Radio sets were much easier to understand in those days because everything was out in the open. After you took the set apart (it was a big problem to find the right screws), you could see this was a resistor, that's a condenser, here's a this, there's a that; they were all labelled.
I finally fixed it beause I had, and still have, persistence.
They didn't even know what they "knew". I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding; they learn by some other way - by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile.
In this room there were wires strung all over the place! Switches were hanging from the wires, cooling water was dripping from the valves, the room was full of stuff, all out in the open. Tables piled with tools were everywhere; it was the most godawful mess you ever saw. The whole cyclotron was there in one room, and it was complete, absolute chaos!
It reminded me of my lab at home. Nothing at MIT had ever reminded me of my lab at home. I suddenly realized why Princeton was getting results. They were working with the instrument. They built the instrument; they knew where everything was, they knew how everything worked. ... It was wonderful! Because they worked with it. They didn't have to sit in another room and push buttons.
I sat with the physicsts, but after a bit I thought: It would be nice to see what the rest of the world is doing, so I'll sit for a week or two in each of the other groups.
So you must be always jiggling a little bit, testing out which way seems to be the easiest.
One day I was watching a paramecium and I saw something that was not described in the books I got in school - in college, even. These books always simplify things so the world will be more like they want it to be.
I chose to play a thing called a "frigideira" which is a toy frying pan made of metal, about six inches in diameter, with a little metal stick to beat it with. ... I practiced all the time. I'd walk along the beach holding two sticks that I had picked up, getting the twisty motion of the wrists, practicing, practicing, practicing.
One day, shortly before Carnival time, the leader of the samba school said, "OK, we're going to practice marching in the street. ...
It was rush hour in Copacabana, and we were going to march down the middle of Avenida Atlantica.
It said to myself, "Jesus! The boss didn't get a license, he didn't OK it with the police, he didn't do anything. He's decided we're just going to go out."
So we started to go out into the street, and everybody, all around, was excited. Some volunteers from a group of bystanders took a rope and formed a big square around our band, so the pedestrians wouldn't walk through the lines. People started to lean out of the windows. Everybody wanted to hear the new samba music. It was very exciting!
As soon as we started to march, I saw a policeman, way down at the other end of the road. He looked, saw what was happening, and started diverting traffic! Everything was informal. Nobody made any arrangements, but it all worked fine.
One exercise they had invented for loosening us up was to draw without looking at the paper. Don't take your eyes off the model; just look at her and makes the lines on the paper without looking at what you're doing.
One of the guys says, "I can't help it. I have to cheat. I bet everybody's cheating!"
"I'm not cheating!" I say.
"Aw, baloney!" they say.
I finish the exercise and they come over to look at what I had drawn. They found that, indeed, I was NOT cheating; at the very beginning my pencil point had busted, and there was nothing but impressions on the paper.
When I finally got my pencil to work, I tried again. I found that my drawing had a kind of strength - a funny, semi-Picasso-like strength - which appealed to me. The reason I felt good about that drawing was, I knew it was impossible to draw well that way, and therefore it didn't have to be good - and that's really what all the loosening up was all about. I had thought that "loosen up" meant "make sloppy drawings," but it really meant to relax and not worry about how the drawing is going to come out.
When it came time to evaluate the conference at the end, the others told how much they got out of it, how successful it was, and so on. When they asked me, I said, "This conference was worse than a Rorschach test: There's a meaningless inkblot, and the others ask you what you think you see, but when you tell them, they start arguing with you!