About the SA Blog Network

Guest Blog

Guest Blog

Commentary invited by editors of Scientific American
Guest Blog HomeAboutContact

Breaking the Code: The Creativity of Technology

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

So many people are stifled by their own preconceived beliefs about what they can and can’t do. That’s a shame and in our household we try hard to remove “can’t” from our vocabulary. The biggest tragedy is when someone is afraid of, or steered away from, trying by stereotypes and social norms that are in a large part incorrect.

Our society desperately needs innovation. Technology in the U.S. is driving virtually all the productivity gains over the past decades, with information technology centered on the Internet delivering a large part. Continuing our country’s leadership in this area and enjoying the fruits of this success depends on broadening our talent pool to include more innovators. We often hear that the U.S. is having a crisis in science, technology, engineering and math education—the so-called STEM subjects. Even in a tough economic climate, we are still seeing projections that over one million STEM-related jobs will go unfilled in this country by 2018. The opportunities here are enormous both for the country and for individuals. One way to help us get there is to close the perception gap as it relates to creativity and technology.

Blackstone’s William Murphy talks to middle-school students at the Chinatown YMCA.

Creativity is often associated with artists. I remember thinking and being told I wasn’t creative since I couldn’t draw particularly well (at least that is how my eight-year-old brain remembered it).  Luckily, I was good at math and science so my “non-creative” abilities were steered towards computer science. That was a happy coincidence for me, and one that doesn’t happen for enough young people. While I ended up in the right place, it was for the wrong reason.

I learned at an early age not to be afraid of technology. So many of my friends and co-workers are still afraid of technology – they use it, but are daunted by how it is produced. That doesn’t need to be the case. Computer science is seen as the purview of “math people” and, dare I say, “nerds”. Programming, and the problem solving that goes along with it, is an incredibly creative endeavor. It empowers you to make something from nothing and, with today’s tools, often for free.

"Fabric of My Heart" by Mary-Frances Main via Flickr

Persistent stereotypes about science and math and linear, in-the-box thinking are hurting our children and damaging our economy. Who’s more creative, the people making movies, painting, playing music and designing clothes, or those designing software? Difficult to say, but the conventional wisdom is that it isn’t the software guy. Yet where else are there an unlimited number of ways to solve a problem and an amazing number of factors that need to be considered in one’s solution?

Building software not only is creative, it’s also interactive, busting another stereotype. The designing of the solution has always been the most fun part for me. Being in a room with our teams, brainstorming, going in all different directions—that creative process is exciting and interactive. The vision of the solitary genius writing software alone is horribly outdated. It shouldn’t just be males who are obsessed with video games that love programming. It should be everyone who wants to have an impact. The more people that know this, the better.

Blackstone’s William Murphy talks to middle-school students at Chinatown YMCA.

The YMCA of Greater New York has launched a new after-school program to promote the STEM subjects in some of our city’s most underserved neighborhoods. The idea is simple: the Y is asking professionals who work in the STEM space to come give a one-hour talk on just about anything they like, with the goal of sparking kids’ interest in scientific or technical careers. I had the pleasure of meeting with about 30 middle school kids between the ages of 11 and 15 from the Chinatown Y. I talked about my experience creating and building solutions with technology. The kids were amazed to hear that technologists could make more money than doctors and that you can learn those skills online for free.

Fortunately, various organizations are working to make the initial steps into coding more easy to digest, less daunting and available to the masses. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently launched, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. So far, nearly 30 million have tried spending an hour writing computer code. Another nonprofit,, launched in 2012, strives to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors.

I count myself fortunate to have fallen in love at an early age with something that enabled me to feel empowered. If more young people feel that way the future will be so much brighter.

Blackstone’s William Murphy with middle-school students at the Chinatown YMCA.

William Murphy About the Author: William Murphy is a Senior Managing Director and the Chief Technology Officer at Blackstone, the global investment and advisory firm, responsible for the firm’s technology efforts. Prior to Blackstone he was founding CTO at Capital IQ and received a BSE in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Comments 6 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. SJCrum 5:44 pm 05/5/2014

    As for creativity, and using intelligence to think way beyond the “outside of the box”, I think that is so totally ultra-thrilling and marvelous that it’s just plain fannnnnntastic! so, I agree TOTALLY.
    By the way, a truly great thing to say also about creativity, is that it can be so astonishingly fantastic in the thrill of it that it can be totally ultra-WOW!
    In my career as a construction company estimator, I only had one semester of computer programming, and that one was truly fascinating, and even if I had to punch paper cards to do the input. Yeah, cave-man days.
    In any case, during one winter when construction was low, I hated just sitting there and doing practically nothing. So, I had a little pet project that I kept in a file drawer, and had tremendous fun with it.
    A year later, a head estimator made a $20,000 error in a paper estimate by a simple, but easy mistake to be made, and I wrote a note to the company president about how that mistake was impossible with my new computer program.
    In the end, the head estimator hated the idea, until after a week of trying it, he finally said it was the greatest thing that occurred for the past twenty-five years.
    But, the main success was that I actually used the very first personal computers in the world in order to accomplish that. We bought two of the very first Apple computers that you had to find in special types of new science shops. And, Apples intentions at the time were to have them in schools to teach kids.
    In our computers they had forty digits horizontally on the screen and we had to buy another card that changed that to eighty.
    In the end, this was an extremely fun and great thing in the world of constructing buildings. And, it all came about by thinking way beyond the boxes outer edges.

    Link to this
  2. 2. SJCrum 6:17 pm 05/5/2014

    As far as totally-out-of-this-world ultra-fantastic new inventions, the following are TOTALLY possible, and have even been accomplished. And, they are totally fun.
    One is the ability to have a permanent magnet type of constantly running generator that generates energy endlessly, and at no cost at all. In other words, it runs constantly and with no fuel, connecting power wires or anything at all. They are also very low cost to make.
    The point of this is they can be in automobiles and where they run without any fuel at all. they can also be in all homes and other buildings and have endless energy to power everything. This also eliminates huge power stations, and power lines all across a country. The small generators instead are like personal computers instead of huge mainframes. When storms occur, there is no danger of power outages or homes without power for long times. Nuclear power plants would be totally obsolete.
    Another real science item is that a teaspoon full of dirt, or garbage, can have the energy in it changed from the stored type of atoms back into just the pure power that is inside all of them. So, that is totally able to be accomplished also.
    Another is that since all matter is made entirely with energy, and is energy, being able to be transport anything to the moon, for example, in an instant, can be accomplished by having a string of electromagnetic “particles” aimed at the moon, and with a “something” inserted into the string can have the polarities reverse, which then causes the object, or person, to instantly be at the opposite end. The moon, for example. Or, all the way around earth to a receiving station that is on the opposite side. In less time than a blink of an eye a person can be anywhere else on earth. Easy travel.
    Another is that you can have computers that can be linked to the continuously operating generators, and have them make a nicely hot cheese burger out of nothing but atoms. Even the recycled ones from yesterday’s trash. It is a fact, that virtually anything that exists as atoms can be made entirely in a few instants of truly great computer programming and the real science involved. And, hey, who would want a cold cheeseburger instead of a fresh one that is hot, huh? And, a burger that is just as delicious as beef, but not the real beef at all, and totally healthy. And, yes, you could compute a Corvette in a flash also. Or, your missing grandmother’s favorite pair of pink bloomers also. Anything. So, cool, huh?
    By the way also, just so you know, a person who is eighty can have a new “self” that would be twenty-six, lovely and a few zillion years beyond forever. Eternal life, and totally yummy also. Females, etc.
    So, there are lots of totally terrific new science things also. And, no, this is not fantasy, but instead totally dead-on right, and with totally terrific real science also.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Jerzy v. 3.0. 6:54 am 05/6/2014

    It is not that USA lacks creativity, the creativity is jailed in big corporations.

    What is raising people interest in writing computer code if not making it cheaper for big corporations to get new workforce? Why do you think a corporation subsidises programming lessons?

    And intellectual property law given a handful ofcorporations a monopoly on technology, much like medieval land titles supported the rule of feudal landlords. A megacorporation develops self-driving car? Nice, but it only means everybody else is banned from inventing a self-driving car, or this corporation steps in and demands licences for infringing its 174 patents. The only hope is that in future, an efficent transport system will be developed by a workaround method which doesn’t infringe the corporation patent portfolio.

    Link to this
  4. 4. SJCrum 4:21 pm 05/6/2014

    For information, one of the biggest creative things that has ever occurred in not only this world, but also in the entire universe is as follows. And, in my thinking, it is so far totally out-of-this-world that it is breathtakingly ultra-thrilling. And, it is as factually genuine as anything could ever possibly be.
    So, in the very beginning before there were any atoms at all, and no universe either, the only things that did exist were God and every positive soul like angels, and obviously all of the Satanic types also. But, there were no planets, stars or any matter at all.
    So, what is my point? The answer is what do you think caused God to create solid matter at all? And, believe me, this subject is ULTRA-HUGE, and where every single bit of that reason of that why TOTALLY exists in an ultra-tremendously fantastic reason.
    The answer is that there was a female soul that God was in love with, but He wanted her to be more solid. Softly, and yummily, of course, but definitely more THERE.
    So, the ultra-impossibility of how to make her and everything in a setting for her to be more solid was His total goal.
    By the way, this truly is a total CREATIVE item that is totally fitting for the topic of this creative success thinking. And, the entire world and universe totally depended on it.
    As for the impossibility, every single scientists on earth now would state that it is TOTALLY impossible WHEN there was nothing at all existing in the vast TOTALLY EMPTY void of space. So, how do you make something solid when there aren’t any particles or anything else existing to make anything? You can’t, EXCEPT fro one ultra-genius way. And that is to make all atoms and matter from nothing but energy.
    So, that is what God did. And, even if Satan laughed at Him and thought it was totally impossible to do.
    So, this item is totally out-of-this-world as far as enormously successful creativity and ultra-success. And, the post following this one will describe that matter-making process completely.

    Link to this
  5. 5. SJCrum 4:51 pm 05/6/2014

    The factually true method of creating all atoms for matter in our galaxy and the universe is as follows, with this description describing the process that exists in our galaxy, and all galaxies. For the universe, it is the same except on a larger universe scale.
    In the core of our galaxy a positively charged energy bubble is formed in the top half, and another bubble with a negative magnetic charge is formed in the bottom half. both of these bubbles are larger than our sun, and an example can be seen by looking at the “Bubble Nebula” on the web.
    Once the bubbles are made the cold of space above the galaxy core pulls the top bubble outward into the cold, and the cold at the bottom pulls the second bubble downward also. In the extreme heat of the core previously, all of the bubble charges were diminished to their minimums, and once they got into the extreme cold of space, those charges increased to their maximums.
    At that point, the bubbles were attracted toward each other by the pull from opposite magnetic charges, and they streaked toward each other.
    For a science item at this point, the science equation of E=1/2MV^2 applies to this, and it is the exact equation that describes the energy method of creating matter. The “squared” part occurs in that equation by the magnetic pull of the charges causing a velocity that increases constantly in a squared amount. And, since the equation is the standard physics kinetic energy equation that describes matter and a velocity, the end result is that this is a MOVING type of energy.
    In the next part, that moving energy is changed completely into stored energy. The process is that the two bubbles streaking toward each other hit head-on and there is an enormous explosion. A second part is that the previous large bubbles are now totally exploded into sub-microscopic energy balls that have one-half of them with a positive charge, and the other half having a negative charge.
    The next part is that since the original energy balls were soft in their outer shells, that causes an explosion that is not in all directions, but instead two, outward blasting cones that shoot outward in opposite directions. And, these explosions cones are easily seen on the web. Also, the collisions, and other parts of the early explosions as well.
    For a second item about the energy equation, the reason for the “1/2″ in the equation is because one-half of the total energy explodes in each of the two cones. And, all of the matter in each cone is therefore one-half, and also why the “1/2″ is in the equation.
    In side each of blast cones then, the heat in the exact center of the cone is the hottest, and where that heat creates the highest atomic weight atoms, and the lowest weight is near the outer edges. All of the other atoms in between are made at all of the decreasing heat core locations between the inside hottest and the outside lowest hot.
    What occurs in these cone areas is that the sub-microscopic energy balls are pulled together to first make all protons and electrons. And, those are then pulled more into the atom cores to make the cores. All of this pulling caused by the heat-attraction of colder objects.
    In the end, all of the atoms are blasted out of the end of the cones and to where they start making stars, and, in our galaxy, planets and moons. In the universe, the larger versions make the core stars of galaxies, with all of these formations involving enormous heat that is greater than that which would completely liquefy rock and soil.
    So, this is the EXACT science process that describes how all atoms are factually made everywhere. And, how God started making EVERYTHING that was needed for a solid female, and everything of a world that was needed for her, and Him to live in.
    So, cool, huh? And, yes, everyone on earth owes every bit of ultra-solidity to the totally scrumptiously lovely and yummy females. Believe it, it’s FACT.

    Link to this
  6. 6. SJCrum 4:56 pm 05/6/2014

    And, the post above about how all matter was made, also is the most fantastically thrilling example of how to ultra-creatively create waaaaaaay beyond the outside of more than zillions of box edges.
    So, a little yummy incentive goes a WHOLE LONG WAY toward ultra-WOW success.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article