The power of creative constraints – Brandon Rodriguez

The power of creative constraints – Brandon Rodriguez

Imagine you’re asked
to invent something new. It could be whatever you want made from anything you choose in any shape or size. That kind of creative freedom
sounds so liberating, doesn’t it? Or does it? If you’re like most people,
you’d probably be paralyzed by this task. Without more guidance,
where would you even begin? As it turns out, boundless freedom
isn’t always helpful. In reality, any project is restricted
by many factors, such as the cost, what materials you have at your disposal, and unbreakable laws of physics. These factors are called
creative constraints, and they’re the requirements
and limitations we have to address
in order to accomplish a goal. Creative constraints apply
across professions, to architects and artists, writers, engineers, and scientists. In many fields, constraints play
a special role as drivers of discovery and invention. During the scientific process
in particular, constraints are an essential part
of experimental design. For instance, a scientist studying
a new virus would consider, “How can I use the tools
and techniques at hand to create an experiment that tells me
how this virus infects the body’s cells? And what are the limits of my knowledge
that prevent me from understanding
this new viral pathway?” In engineering, constraints have us
apply our scientific discoveries to invent something new and useful. Take, for example,
the landers Viking 1 and 2, which relied on thrusters to arrive
safely on the surface of Mars. The problem? Those thrusters left foreign chemicals
on the ground, contaminating soil samples. So a new constraint was introduced. How can we land a probe on Mars without introducing chemicals
from Earth? The next Pathfinder mission used
an airbag system to allow the rover to bounce
and roll to a halt without burning contaminating fuel. Years later, we wanted to send
a much larger rover: Curiosity. However, it was too large
for the airbag design, so another constraint was defined. How can we land a large rover
while still keeping rocket fuel away from the Martian soil? In response, engineers had a wild idea. They designed a skycrane. Similar to the claw machine at toy stores, it would lower the rover
from high above the surface. With each invention, the engineers
demonstrated an essential habit of scientific thinking – that solutions must recognize
the limitations of current technology in order to advance it. Sometimes this progress is iterative, as in, “How can I make a better
parachute to land my rover?” And sometimes, it’s innovative, like how to reach our goal when the best possible
parachute isn’t going to work. In both cases, the constraints
guide decision-making to ensure we reach each objective. Here’s another Mars
problem yet to be solved. Say we want to send astronauts
who will need water. They’d rely on a filtration system
that keeps the water very clean and enables 100% recovery. Those are some pretty tough constraints, and we may not have
the technology for it now. But in the process of trying
to meet these objectives, we might discover other applications
of any inventions that result. Building an innovative
water filtration system could provide a solution for farmers
working in drought-stricken regions, or a way to clean municipal water
in polluted cities. In fact, many scientific advances have occurred when serendipitous failures
in one field address the constraints of another. When scientist Alexander Fleming
mistakenly contaminated a Petri dish in the lab, it led to the discovery
of the first antibiotic, penicillin. The same is true of synthetic dye, plastic, and gunpowder. All were created mistakenly, but went on to address the constraints
of other problems. Understanding constraints guides
scientific progress, and what’s true in science
is also true in many other fields. Constraints aren’t the boundaries
of creativity, but the foundation of it.

Comments (100)

  1. Engineers wear white hard hats, usually.

  2. I heard somewhere once that exactly this creative constraint is what makes minecraft so appealing.
    essentially it's just differently textured cubes but by combination you can create whatever comes to your imagination.
    This makes you think about how you can build a bed, a fridge, a sink, a castle, a treehouse simply out of cubes so you come up with creative solutions.

  3. I do this every day at work. Whether building or remodelling a home, business. Building, cabinets and creations. Sadly though, this technique is often used to solve the problem of how to put lipstick on a pig.
    Get it done, fast and cheaply, yet make it look like you did it right.

  4. TED-Ed actually makes me want to learn … unlike school

  5. That is why the government has a low budget on NASA so that the scientist can boost their creativity.

  6. Setting goals. The first task.

  7. Necessity is the mother of creation

  8. This make me remember deadline

  9. what does that mean by it would lower the rover from high above the surface ?

  10. I love this because I just finished my art project for school and every box had to have a certain type of pattern and it helped me improve at drawing alot more than just thinking up something.

  11. This is why music from old video games is so catchy and memorable. They only had a few tones to work with back then.

  12. This is literally what I was thinking about when choosing to buy a new laptop, how, just how do they read my mind?

  13. The Power of Creative Constraints
    Brandon Urie


  14. why do the editor's of these video's think background music should be just as loud as the person speaking in the video? I think they are misunderstanding the term "background music". It is quite hard to understand this guy because of it.

  15. Why is my name in the title of this video?

  16. "constraints arent the boundaries of creativity but the foundation of it" Very well said. This changed my perspective about problems as I will not be seeing them as problems anymore, but a way to reach my goals. Thank you ted-ed. Always been a love and will always be <3

  17. What's this music?

  18. The background music was really annoying, but the content itself was great!

  19. Great work. Solutions must recognize the limitations of current technology in order to advance it.

  20. Just had an Intel advertisement featuring or should I say staring Metro booming… as I am bout to watch a Ted-ED vid…. this is the culture…

  21. 0:10 a girlfriend.

  22. you forgot another creative constraint, parents

  23. The creation of gunpowder
    Psychopath "so we have crossbows and swords which kill people, but how can we do it in the blink of an eye, painfully without them being able to fight back?"
    [gunpowder is found out]
    Psychopath "ol' my beer'

  24. Imagination, like a muscle, atrophies without resistance. Constraints serve as the resistance to the imagination.

  25. I'm having a question -what happened to that sky crane after if made the curiosity rover land on Mars?

  26. The starting question wasn't a very good example. I think anyone given 2 minutes could come up with a good answer. I would just make a machine that can do whatever i want it to do: cure cancer worldwide, make mars instantly populable, make the whole human race 150% more intelligent… the results are endless and its really not a difficult thought.

    My suggestion would be instead to write a novel about whatever you like, or paint a picture of whatever you like instead.

  27. i have learned a lot of things from your videos,acculately youtube is rubbis but you making your videos by different way

  28. Then 3D printing will be the end of mankind

  29. I love you guys

  30. creative constraints could also be a boundary instead of foundation
    for example, poor people who has ideas but cannot make their ideas come true because of lack of money and materials :3

  31. doesnt apply to youtube though. you can get 120K+ views for copying niel degrass tyson

  32. basic info, πŸ‘Ž

  33. I keep forgetting we haven't actually gone to mars. Mark Watney just read so real!!!!

  34. Don't know why I got goosebumps. Maybe because of the eerie good music

  35. we r looking forward to ur riddles…

  36. … i kinda thought this would be writing advice

  37. Kevlar is another good example of this

  38. that awkward moment when the teacher gives you a free essay and then gives you a low grade because it was "not pertinent with the request"

  39. I just gotta say, this is one of the greatest animations, you should do more vids in this style of animation.

  40. super like… right now there are also legal constraints but a way for better legislation

  41. I can't continue watching this video with that background music.

  42. Man this is so true! I'm studying to become a graphic designer, and constraints honestly help so much when I'm creating a design!

  43. The sounds in this video are so crisp and pleasant to listen to! :O

  44. Very true in entrepreneurship as well!

  45. TED-Ed is the school that we need, but not the one we deserve

  46. In fact, the "skycrane" landing system was implemented as Curiosity was too heavy to use airbags to land. At the final stage of landing the descent stage hovers 65 ft. over the Curiosity as it is lowered by cables, contaminating the area with thruster residue.

  47. It is obvious that creating quality material within the context of constraints requires greater creativity. In fact, great creative works like Shakespeare are highly constrained. The only way Shakespeare could've written such top tier material is if he was constraining himself to only producing pure greatness.

    If operated under the principle that all forms of creative writing are valid, we never would have heard of him.

  48. I don't agree with the last statement.. Those discoveries were accidentally made and not depending on the constraints.. We can say constrains widen our horizon of thinking and motivate us to discover something new

  49. 1:22 B-but viruses don't work like this ;_;
    (Yeah, yeah, I know. It's only an animation etc.)

  50. 4:00 are spin-offs

  51. I loved the animation style of this one!

  52. "If you are like most people, you would be paralyzed by this task" But I'm an artist, it's my job to invent things – they don't have to be functional, only to look nice.

  53. Funded by Elon Musk?

  54. Am I the only one who found the music was too loud in this lesson?

  55. Actually, if you give yourself some sort of weird rule you can easily come up with awesome stuff. Well at least it's easier to come up with awesome stuff if there's s limitation.

  56. I like the "the obstacle is the way" part, but I strongly disagree with the final message of "boundaries are the foundation of creativity"… that's terrible to hear from a grown up person. Maybe some technological advance might come from boundaries but not creativeness itself.

  57. Music is incredibly distracting and overbearing

  58. I want to make america great again, but i am a dumb shit.

  59. Money inherently restricts humanity in all fields, the more creative the idea = the more money restricts progress.

  60. To anyone reading this…
    make an app or start a business.

  61. Sometimes I think that watching TED-Ed videos should be MANDATORY in schools !

  62. This video makes no sense. If your innovation is to deal with the constraint, assuming a world without the constraint you wouldn't waste your time to deal with it but work on something else.

  63. abroad Anyone see smarter this videp .0.

  64. As a graphic designer, I con 100% attest that this is true. I HATE when a customer comes in and gives no thoughts at all on what they want their logo or design to look like, especially when the design is for a field I'm completely unfamiliar with.

  65. To relate this to other subjects, like language arts: it is part of the reason writing becomes easier when given a prompt

  66. emergency i please it heavil} survey !

  67. In my senior year English literature and composition class, the teacher told us our final project would be… anything we wanted. Well, it had to relate loosely to a single one of the topics we covered in class. I literally had no idea what to do, because the constraint of "make anything" just paralyzed my decision making. So I know what this video is talking about.

  68. wow !! every time i watch a video i feel so informed !! well done guys

    Β Not one comment about the power of political, religious, dogmatic, or otherwise negative constraints?

    Β I suppose that this entire list of responses consist of incomplete sentences, fragmented thoughts, and a total abandonment of grammar and punctuation only serves to illustrate another aspect of the subject of Creative Restraints. Get ready; some of you may refer to my comments as a micro (intelligent designer forbid!) aggression. Let me correct you right at the outset. I do NOT create "micro" aggression. . . I create GREAT BIG FAT HAIRY ONES !!

    Language skills are about learning how to help others understand what you wish to communicate to them. Only when you have made an honest and thorough attempt to understand the language you presume to use to create such "communication" can you have any "reasonable" expectation that others have any chance to understand you in any way. Understanding that such knowledge necessarily includes the ability to share the SAME constraints as others should be self evident.( Pardon me me for assuming that there is any knowledge that can be considered self evident in these times.) In these days of computer assisted ignorance we have entered a new age of Babble and consequently actual communication is disintegrating more and more rapidly each and every day.

    Instead of an open and intellectually challenging discussion about the possibilities and implications of negative constraints most of you have leapt off the cliff of totally unearned self importance and completely missed a wonderful opportunity to actually educate yourselves. Pardon me if I don't morn or miss your self imposed absence.

    Mr. Brandon Rodriquez, thank you for your interesting and entertaining program. I'm very sorry that it has failed to generate a positive reaction among respondents. . . Just another example of "pearls before swine". Maybe you could make another video explaining the difference between "creative" and "negative". Someone might appreciate that.

  70. Who was not paralyzed by the task?

  71. Jews we gosta show dis in schools

  72. Surely beg yellow practice lawyer amendment car designer offensive.

  73. I'm starting fifth grade, and I'm pretty sure Ted-Ed taught me more things than I've learned in school ._.

  74. This is why too much creative liberty is not that much of a good thing.

  75. freedom is slavery

  76. With the problem of providing water to astronauts in Mars, why not use the same filtration method used in the ISS where biological wastes is converted into water?

    IDK the chemical composition of Mars’ atmosphere (I think its mostly CO2 but I could be wrong). I did see this unique filter product thingy on Unbox Therapy a few weeks ago that turned vapor into drinking water. Is it possible to do the same thing, converting chemicals from Mars into water? Might be harder, and the inputs might not all be from the atmosphere if at all. But its a thought.

    Sorry for the rambling. Not a scientist. But, big problems like this always excite me πŸ™‚

  77. time, quality, cost

  78. Creating something new is a problem, because you need to find the way to make a project that matches with your needs. It's obvious that if you don't have any limits you wouldn't have the problem of building something, because it's already solved.

  79. at 404 it looks like billnye

  80. "Constraints aren't the boundary of creativity, but the foundation of it."

  81. About astraunauts stuff i would just say, leave it : The Planet is a perfect spaceship xD and they should better take care of it than flee again and again our responsabilities :/

  82. The Hayes Code was a creative Constraint: how do we make movies and TV shows when we're not allowed to pander to Man's basest instincts?

  83. "Solutions must recognise the limitations of current technology in order to advance it." Very applicable to personal growth as well, it's necessary to put yourself out there – criticism might be the way forward. (Not an easy truth for me to live with, I must say)

  84. I love videos of ted they are so funny interesting and helpful i love science because of ted and i learn to much things more then school thanks ted ed πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

  85. πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸΏ

  86. People : Why won't you give us complete freedom?

    Authority : 0:30

    Sarcasm intended.


  88. This lesson yields an everlasting effect on experiemntation by considering constraints.

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