One morning in 1843, mathematician Sir William Rowan Hamilton was having breakfast with his young sons, who asked him why is it that you can’t multiply together these things that today we call vectors. Let’s just get over the fact that his oldest son at the time was nine years old, and somehow Hamilton’s children could grasp the concept of vectors enough to ask questions like that. My adult cousin Gary (rest in peace) still didn’t get what they were after an entire evening at a family event trying to explain to him what they were.

Still pondering the question his sons had asked earlier, Hamilton crossed a stone bridge on a walk with his wife that afternoon. Suddenly he was stricken with the idea for a new concept that would later be known as quaternions. He excitedly carved the equation into a stone in the bridge to capture the thought. He dedicated the rest of his life to studying quaternions. This mathematical concept that today is used in everything from computer graphics to steering spacecraft was the result of ruminating on the raw curiosity of his children.

Stories like these have always captured me. I love to learn about the contexts in which creative minds live that inspire their brilliant ideas.

I’ve come to appreciate the beautiful melting pot of people from all over that cross my path. Many of them do truly incredible work. Most of them are very insightful people. And no matter what, all of them share one thing: we each have journeys that made us who we are today–our own fateful strolls across the stone bridge. I find myself equally drawn in by the tales of those around me: the tales of what brought them here, what changed the way they think, what made them laugh so hard they got in trouble.

So, what is this podcast about? Well, all sorts of things. One week I may be talking about interpretations of musical master works, another week about challenges in planning missions to the moon, and yet another on why there are seven days in a week. But this podcast is as much about each topic as it is about the people from all walks of life who help me try to unpack those topics. How did they come to approach these things the way they have? Where did they come from? What makes them tick?

I always find that in asking these sorts of questions to others that I learn a lot about them, but I also learn a lot about myself, and I hope that you will, too. So let’s take a journey together, now, and be open to ideas and stories that make you laugh, cry, and think.

Welcome to Stretch Your Mind.

Stretch Your Mind is the flagship podcast from Stretch Your Mind Enterainment and hosted by Randy Eckman.