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He spent 18 hours each and every day tinkering with rudimentary electronics at a time when it was still a relatively obscure endeavor. Edison labored to invent the light bulb, the phonograph, the alkaline battery, and an electric train, along with a thousand other patents, at a time when such invention were considered mysterious and amazing.

He made many discoveries including the reflector telescope, differential and integral calculus, Laws of Motion and Gravitation, and colors of light. He was usually busy with his research work. He didn't talk much, and only slept about three hours a night.

Expertise. Insights. Illumination.

Alan Turing is another famous nerd. Half-hero, half-scapegoat, Turing is credited with helping to crack the Nazi Enigma codes at the end of World War II, as well as playing an instrumental role in developing the first computers of the 20th century. Find a subject or subjects that you can immerse yourself in.

It doesn't need to be science-related, although researchers are finding that increasingly numbers of autistic individuals who often qualify as nerdy are drawn to science, technology, engineering and math STEM majors. Question, constantly. Many nerds are defined by their ability — some say habit — to question the information they receive until they are satisfied about its authenticity or understand the logic behind it. To be a nerd, you must be on an insatiable quest for knowledge. To be on an insatiable quest for knowledge, you must constantly question the quality, source, and utility of information you receive.

Don't trust information just because it comes from an authority figure. Nerds understand that figures of authority can sometimes get away with misleading or falsified information simply because of their power. Get to the root of things. A nerd will understand a question inside and out. A nerd will not rely on memorized information, but rather on understanding a concept.

You know your loves and passions

If a nerd asks the question "Why is the sky blue? Examine the details.


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The devil may be in the details, but that doesn't mean you can't embrace them. That was Vladimir Nabokov's advice to his students. The nerd cares more about being right than appearing smart, so he grabs onto details as a way of investigating reality. No wonder, then, that nerds tend to gravitate towards the sci, tech, eng, math , i. Go toward the gray areas.

Are You a Geek or a Nerd? The Difference Really Is in the Data

No, this is not an obscure fashion directive; it's a way of thinking. Nerds tend to see gray areas where others see black and white. This is because nerds are good at examining pros and cons, comparison and contrasts, theses and rebuttals. They devalue their own opinion and focus on the "quantifiable" facts. Sometimes, this leaves them looking like occupational vacillators, constantly seesawing back and forth between "sides" of an argument arguing with themselves, it may seem.

In fact, they are gathering information and waiting for pre-aligned, set "opinion" conclusion to hit them with the force of facts, instead of forming an opinion hypothesis that one begins justifying by supporting facts. It might be helpful to get familiar with just a few of them: Thomas Kuhn's paradigm shifts : Periods of "normal science" are interrupted by periods of "revolutionary science," called paradigm shifts that are relentlessly discussed and expounded defined, diagrammed, flow-charted, mapped, extrapolated, spanning and forming a new amalgam, a new reality For STEMs adherents paradigm shifts are entirely new, focuses of scientific thinking and concentration.

Ask the experts. If you know someone who is experienced in a certain field, ask them what they know. Pose questions, listen closely to their answers, and speak up if you don't understand yet, or if you disagree with them. Remember, knowledge can come from surprising sources! Everyone is good at something. Practice intellectual humility and approach each person as if they have something new to teach you.

Lose the ideas of genius and talent. Being intelligent doesn't mean knowing everything; it means knowing things and being eager to learn more. Get comfortable with asking questions and being wrong. The quest for knowledge includes wrong turns and realizing that you don't know. Focus less on "What do I know?

Part 2 of Lose yourself in your passion. Nerds get the reputation for being in the clouds half the time because their minds are wandering, probing distant places or complex correlations and equations. For this reason, don't be afraid to be aloof, if that's who you are. Lose yourself in the intellectual areas that make you happy and help you feel connected to the world, even if it means you seem disconnected by the "depth" and "displacement" involved in your internalizing a singular passion.

Your passion could be anything, from cryptology to philosophy to Norse mythology to brewing. It could be anything from morphology to cardiology to numismatics or philately. Whatever it is, make it a blast! Set short- and long-term goals for yourself. The sooner you set yourself some goals perhaps in an outline of variable and constant parameters, a rubric, or a protocol , the easier it will be to achieve them. Setting absorbing goals has the benefit of being especially nerdy!

Don't be afraid to go beyond the ordinary. Think differently. Don't be afraid to tackle an idea or activity that isn't popular. Realize that you may not have a great grasp of what is popular and what isn't in the first place. No matter! If you found that lining your car antenna with aluminum foil gives you better reception on the AM stations in your car, then go for it. A nerd does not care how his car looks if the radio station is playing properly.

If you decide that coding all night and eating grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches makes your heart squeal and your tummy hum, then go for it. A nerd does not care whether his lack of sleep and confounding diet make him an object of mystery. If you propose to test all your friends for an antibody not yet known to science, then go for it. A nerd does not care whether the world doubts her methods and challenges her findings. If you are interested in computer viruses and want to tell all your friends what a trojan is, then go for it!

A lot of nerds like to learn about things that seem pointless to others. Be polite. Say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me.


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  • Treat everyone with courtesy, whether they are a fellow nerd, a valley girl, or a person with an intellectual disability. Sometimes, correcting others hurts more than it helps. If a person is sensitive or in a bad mood, or if the situation isn't good, let it slide. If you know that a person prefers to be corrected, discreetly correct them and don't make it a big deal.

    Support fellow nerds. Be there for nerds who get bullied, and build up budding nerds instead of tearing them down for not knowing as much as you do. Always be learning. A nerd is on a constant quest for knowledge. A nerd doesn't always care whether the information they receive has any utility. The mere fact that it's simple, profound, or counter-intuitive is enough to make it cool.

    Use the right words. Nerds are usually pretty good with words because they care about getting things right. It doesn't hurt that they may read more in a month than the average American reads in a year. Nerds use the right word given the context. Sometimes, the right word happens to be a big one. Extremely smart nerds have the ability to use incredibly basic words to explain incredibly complex subject matter. Make the dictionary and thesaurus your friend. Whenever you come across a word you don't know, consult the dictionary. Whenever you believe you could be using a better word given the circumstances, consult a thesaurus.

    Read voraciously. Read everything in your area s of interests that you can get your hands on, including reference books and encyclopedias. Read and watch the news enough everyday to be informed about what's going on beyond your community.

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    Read fiction books, too, because they can help build your vocabulary and gives you a good sense of spelling. Read things that you like, but your parents don't approve of.

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    For example, you like the Harry Potter books, but your parents claim that they will "give you nightmares. The Harry Potter series isn't very scary at all. A little mature, maybe, but not horror. Study several related languages. Try to pick up a language just for kicks; or maybe because a subject your learning about has original sources in the native tongue. Experiment with web-based translation machines.

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    If you feel that learning a language is too hard, then try and learn Pig Latin. Pig Latin has a set of rules to go by in order to speak it, so it is very easy to learn.