Many years ago I attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and was studying economics. I was considering graduate school until I pissed off a professor that would eventually become the Dean of the Department and who's recommendation I would need for grad school. Oh well, choices have consequences.
But prior to that whimpering end to my graduate schools hopes.....I was considering two areas of research.
First: I disliked the way productivity was defined. I wanted to see if there were alternatives that worked better and were more accurate. It was going to be a very technical and highly focused (not likely to see the broader light of day!). But something worthwhile to me.
Second: Innovation was something interesting to me. Why did we have thousands of years of human civilization but it took almost four thousand years to go from the wheel (yes I know it existed prior to that) to the train? To the car? Why did 'innovation' explode in the 1700s and 1800s and absolutely hit hyperdrive in the 1900s?
One factor, to some, strangely, is calories. How much food a population has on a regular and predictable manner. And is there a level? Generally - and I was working on a way to prove it - a population as a whole needs about 1200 calories a day, year round, consistently in order for innovation to begin showing legs.
But is not just calories for the population, there seems to be a necessary amount of population required too. A town of 50 with sufficient food stocks is not anywhere nearly as innovative as a city of 500,000 with the necessary calories.
Of course, the larger the population, the greater the food supply must be.
Finally, there seems to be a need for stress on a population. How much, what type, the source were all things I wanted to look at.
More recently I have looked at another factor. Why is Western Culture generally more innovative? What tends to set it apart?
Anyway, nothing in particular prompted this post. Several minor interactions all lent themselves to recalling what interests me, academically.
Oh, and I THINK I am being told to stop trying to focus on a private project. We will see over the next couple days if that is an accurate reading of the tea leaves...