Who knows where thoughts come from?  They just appear!

Rory Cochrane as Lucas in Empire Records

I am pretty sure it is an historically verifiable fact that the best ideas come in the shower.  Most of my posting ideas arrive there and I think I am a statistically signifcant section of all of human history and therefore this is a totally valid argument (for incontrovertible proof of my position, please see Solipsism).

Let’s consider some examples from history.

The Wheel

Ugh the caveman has become disgusted by his own stench (understandably so, soap is still roughly 30,000 years away) and has decided to do something about it.  Jumping into the river is a rotten idea because that’s what Urgh did and he was swept away by the current and eaten by an Elasmosaurus (Fig. 1)

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Not wanting the same fate to befall himself, Ugh considers his options carefully.  “Aha!” he thinks, “I will go to the waterfall.  No elasmosauri can get at me there.”

While standing under the waterfall, Ugh suddenly realizes that it would be significantly easier to move things from Point Ur to Point Mrph (the alphabet not yet having been invented) if there were some sort of reduction in friction, possibly by a section of tree trunk with some kind of axle.  Thus, the wheel is born in the context of a Paleolithic shower.

Displacement of Water by Irregular Shapes

Fig 2.

Fig 2.

Archimedes is famous as a thinker, scientist and bather but it has recently come to light that the story of his most well-know bath-related scientific thought contains certain errata.

At some point around the year 242 B.C., Archimedes is supposed to have taken a bath and notice that the irregular shape of his body displaced water.  I think it is very sad that he considered himself to have an irregular body shape but on the other hand if he had had more self-esteem we might not have advanced as far in science as we have.

I think it much more likely that he was in the shower at the time of his break through.  It had nothing to do with the rise in the level of the water in the bathtub but rather everything to do with the near-magical properties of having ideas in the shower.


Fig. 3

Fig. 3

Sir Isaac Newton (Fig 3.) is well known as a great scientist and a fairly snappy dresser (not pictured).  Perhaps his most famous discovery was that of gravity.  Now, I think this is something of a cop-out as really, gravity has kind of always been around and people were making use of it well before it was ‘discovered.’  Ugh the caveman really had a lot more of the discovery thing than the late Sir Ike, but no matter.  Let’s take it as read that Newton discovered gravity.

The tale of Newton sitting under an apple tree and getting bopped is widely considered apocryphal.  This is a totally reasonable position to take.  How often have you been in your favourite orchard and just seen fruit falling from trees?  Even taking into account confirmation bias, it seems highly unlikely.  You know where Newton did see stuff falling?  The shower.  Clearly one could not tame a mane such as his with a simple weekly bath.  The man obviously conditioned regularly and that strongly implies the presence of a shower in his life.  I submit to you that the whole gravity thing (and probably most of his work on calculus and conic sections) came to him totally unbidden whilst he performed his morning ablutions.

I am humbled to consider myself in the company of these great thinkers.  You, too, can have great, world-changing ideas given a regular showering schedule.  Please, for the sake of the future, take more showers.

the game never ends