What Mario Livio’s Book Called ‘Why? What Makes Us Curious’ is All About

What’s Makes Us so Curious, is a new book written by astrophysicist and best-selling author, Mario Livio. In the book, Mario writes about historical figures such as Richard Feynman, who have gone through various significant interests in the world around them. He also goes on to explain the different types of curiosity, how it expresses itself and the regions of the brain in which curiosity appears to reside in. But how did he come to writing the book? Below are a few questions he was asked that cover what inspired him to write the book and what it is all about. Since here at the I’m feeling curious blog curiosity is the main thing I thought it would be a great addition to the blog.

Where Did He Get the Idea to Write the Book?

Mario stated that he has always been a curious person and have wondered for a long time about what brings about curiosity in guys like him. At first, he was not sure whether writing a book about curiosity was possible as he was not an expert in the field of psychology or neuroscience. However, in 2012, he was invited to a TedxMidAtlantic talk, and he was allowed to choose the topic he wished to discuss. He then prepped for the talks by spending some months exploring the subject of curiosity. This went on to motivate him to do more research on the topic as he, later on, spent the next four years trying to find out what research results concerning curiosity were available in both neuroscience and psychology fields as he went on to interview many scientists and visited different labs.

What Did He Learn When Writing the Book?

Mario said that he was surprised to discover that the number of researchers who focused on curiosity was quite small despite the fact that curiosity is what drives most of us to do the things we do. He also added that there are people who study the subject, but the total number of them was unexpected. Mario realized that curiosity actually represents an entire family of both mechanisms and states. A good example is whereby the curiosity we feel when we get to see something that is surprising puzzling or arguable which does not exactly agree with what we’ve known is not similar to the curiosity that is felt when someone loves knowledge which is also what drives in research in fields such as science.

The first type of feeling curious is mainly associated with a state of mind that is unconcerned. It typically tends to feel unpleasant, and most people will do their best to get rid of this feeling. Mario also found out that this type of curiosity activates the regions of the brain that are generally associated with conflict, thirst or hunger. The second type of feeling curious which represents the thirst for knowledge is typically associated with a pleasurable state. Mario says that this sort of curiosity will generally activate the region of the brain that anticipates rewards, like when you’re test results are about to be given to you and you are waiting patiently expecting to get good results.

How is the Book He Wrote Different From the Book He Wanted to Write?

Mario says that he originally intended to write only about research on the nature of curiosity, the mechanisms of it in the brain, and the psychological states it represents. But as he was writing, he also thought about the lives of extraordinary curious individuals from both the past and present, and he realized that he couldn’t write about curiosity without also understanding the minds of these people. So he ended up writing an entire chapter on Leonardo Da Vinci, who is perhaps recognized as one of the most curious individuals in history, and also another chapter on Richard Feynman. He also went on to interview extraordinary people in the present such as the lead guitarist for Queen, Brian May, who also holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics and accomplished pianist Fabiola Gianotti, who also happened to aid in the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Mario also added that while some readers may not be interested in the exact mechanism of the brain, these people might still capture their attention in the book.

Which Creative Individual Influenced Mario and His Work?

Mario said that his main source of inspiration came from Albert Einstein. During his research, he discovered that working in experimental physics or observational astronomy can lead to discoveries that become very important to humanity but coincidental and in most cases, one has to be prepared to make such findings as luck aids the well prepared. However, he said, in theoretical physics, it is not so, because there is usually relatively incremental progress as everyone in the team adds a piece to the puzzle. But every now and then, someone like Einstein comes up with something that has not been thought of before, which is how Einstein’s relativity theory is. Mario said that even as of today, he still cannot fathom how Einstein thought of such an approach and also stated that such kind of thinking is what inspired him to write the book.

How Would He Persuade People to Read His Book?

Mario says that curiosity is something which inspires the most exciting things that happen in our lives, from reading books to having conversations to watching movies. Curiosity drives all scientific research and knowledge. He also added that while other species on earth are also curious, they lack the ability to ask why this is so, which is unique to humanity and as such, everyone should be curious about curiosity.