Key points:

Knowledge and productivity are like compound interests. Given two people of approximately the same ability and one who works ten per cent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity — it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime.

Darwin writes in his autobiography that he found it necessary to write down every piece of evidence which appeared to contradict his beliefs because otherwise, they would disappear from his mind. When you find apparent flaws, you’ve got to be sensitive, keep track of those things, and keep an eye out for how it can explain them or change the theory to fit them. Those are often significant contributions. Outstanding contributions are rarely made by adding another decimal place. It comes down to an emotional commitment. Most great scientists are completely committed to their problems. Those who don’t become committed seldom produce outstanding, first-class work.

In summary, I claim that some of the reasons why so many people who have greatness within their grasp don’t succeed are: they don’t work on important problems, they don’t become emotionally involved, they don’t try and change what is difficult to some other situation which is easily done but is still important, and they keep giving themselves alibis why they don’t. They keep saying that it is a matter of luck. I’ve told you how easy it is; furthermore, I’ve told you how to reform. Therefore, go forth and become great scientists!