I remember having read on Wikipedia some time ago the page of a 20th century physicist. There was a subsection about his strategy for problem solving that involved drawing a concept map of the objects involved in the problem and then switching them around. I can't however remember the precise anecdote, nor the name of the physicist.

Details that I do remember, ranked by confidence that I recall them correctly:

  • Male physicist
  • Used concept maps (or mind maps) and then switched arrows and nodes around for out of the box thinking
  • There was an anecdote along the lines of moving the Earth from its orbit (which would point to an astrophysicist)
  • Might have been related the Los Alamos laboratory

Does anybody have a clue who it might be? My initial instinct was either Fermi or Szilard but their respective Wikipedia page does not contain anything relative to creative problem solving strategies.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You're not thinking of Feynman diagrams here? They are not quite what you describe but a rather specific graphical method to represent complicated mathematics. But Richard Feynman was generally famous for out-of-box thinking and for lots of weird anecdotes, so perhaps he used some kind of concept maps too. $\endgroup$ Dec 11 '21 at 9:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Concept maps were introduced by Novak in 1970s for educational purposes, but he was a biologist, not a physicist. Mind maps by Buzan at about the same time, but he was a popular psychology author. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Dec 13 '21 at 11:49

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