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Problem Solving Skills Made Easier For You Through Fermi Method

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Who is Enrico Fermi and are you wondering how he can help you improve your problem solving skills?

Well, on to that in 20 seconds from now (if you are a quick reader)!!

Before that lets talk about the importance of improving your problem solving skills in the modern world.

Each day we are encountered with one or the other problem either at our work or in our life. It ranges from simple to complex and one that requires immediate attention to the ones that need careful examination. Eventually if you need to lead a happy life then you must enhance your problem solving skills. You can’t simple run away from the problems. Hope you agree with me on that.

Rite then, here comes the most awaited answer to improve your problem solving skills, as promised 20 seconds ago.

Enrico Fermi was an Italian-American Physicist who is known for developing the first nuclear reactor and he also won the Nobel Prize in 1938, for his work on induced radioactivity.

Fermi was a remarkable talent and his style was quite distinctive, like all geniuses. His way of approaching a problem was purely straight forward, using common sense. Enrico Fermi was a master in breaking highly difficult problems in bite sized solutions which you can model in your life.

He inculcated the problem solving skills in his students by posing a problem at them. When you hear that for the first time it might sound Greek and Latin for you because you will feel that there is hardly any information given to you for solving the problem. Here comes the beauty – When you divide these problems into minor sub-domains then you would inch to the exact solution without the help of any master. Wouldn’t you be interested to learn this problem solving skill, which can be attributed to Enrico Fermi.

Let’s say you want to figure out Earth’s circumference without going into google..

The distance between New York and Los Angeles is close to 4800 kilometers and they have a time difference of 3 hours, which is one-eighth of day. It takes 24 hours (1 day) for the earth to complete one rotation, so its circumference must be 8 times 4,800 which is 38,4000 kilometers. The actual answer is 40,075.5 kilometers which is hardly less than 4% from Fermi’s answer.

Let’s look at another question.

How many piano tuners are there in Chicago?

This question was posed by Fermi to his students at the University of Chicago. Fermi’s way to get the answer : if the population of Chicago was three million and one third of all families own pianos, there would be 2,50,000 pianos in the city, taking into consideration that each family comprises of 4 members. If each piano was tuned every five years, 50,000 tuning were happening an year. If one tuner can service 4 pianos a day, 250 days a year, for a total of 1000 tuning an year, there must be about 50 tuners in the city. It may not be exact, but it would be definitely close to reality.

So what was Fermi’s intention?

Through these examples Fermi teaches you that even by making assumptions you can still arrive very close to the answer for most of your problems. There is hardly any similarity between finding out earth’s circumference and the number of piano tuners in Chicago.

However, you can see a striking similarity in the manner in which those questions were answered. Your problems could be concerned with choosing your career, finding your partner, personal relationships or even cooking, the light heart’s would always look up to experts, friends or colleagues for solutions.

You will dig deep into your common sense and real time knowledge to make fairly decent calculations and arrive at your own answers. This is the manner which is followed by highly efficient decision makers.

Have you ever been a part of a crisis and ask yourself how you had reacted and what was the reaction of the decision maker in your group? They would have followed Fermi’s method to solve the problem that you were in without asking too many questions to the rest of the group. Fermi had worked hard to instill the element of self-confidence in each person, so that they are efficient in problem solving and these skills can be used for achieving their dreams in life.

So what are the lessons that you have learned from Enrico Fermi in improving your problem solving skills?

1. Seek answers from within yourself.

2. Every problem has got an answer and use your common sense to focus on the solutions.

3. Be a keen observer and learn from your surroundings to seek answers for your problems.

4. Start imagining the situation when you have figured out the solution. This will have a dramatic influence in your thought process to solve your problem.

5. Be daring and creative. As Einstein once said “Its your imagination that encircles the world and not your skills”

You might have learned more lessons and we request you to share it with us by commenting here. If you liked this article please subscribe to our e-mail, so that we can send you more articles that can help you reap success and happiness in your life.

Photo Courtesy: Optimistic Lifestyle

About the Author:

Rafi – who has written posts on | Inspiring Citizen.

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