Some of the most important scientific breakthroughs ever made by scientists including Einstein and Newton came about as the geniuses allowed their minds to wander, researchers say.
According to a new study by the University of California, Santa Barbara, doing simple tasks that allow us to daydream is key to solving trickier questions playing on our minds, scientists find.
They found that some of the most important discoveries made by scientists like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton came about as the geniuses behind them allowed their minds to wander, the Telegraph reported.
The study showed that people who returned to a difficult task after taking a break and doing an easy task boosted their performance by around 40 per cent.
However, there was little or no improvement for people who did another demanding task during the break, used it to rest or did not have a break at all.
The results indicate that doing simple tasks that allow us to daydream is key to solving trickier questions playing on our minds.
“Many influential scientific thinkers claim to have had their moments of inspiration while engaged in thoughts or activities not directly aimed at solving the problem they were trying to solve,” said lead author Benjamin Baird.
“This study demonstrated that taking a break involving an undemanding task improved performance on a classic creativity task far more than taking a break involving a demanding task resting or taking no break.
“The findings arguably provide the most direct evidence to date that conditions that favour mind wandering also enhance creativity,” said Baird.
Researchers said the findings are likely to please school pupils and bored office workers who enjoy gazing out of the window but may not go down less well with teachers and bosses.
Einstein is believed to have begun his theory of relativity while he daydreamed about riding or running beside a sunbeam to the edge of the universe – after he was expelled from school for rebelling against rote learning.
Similarly, Newton developed his theory of gravity after he happened to see an apple fall from a tree in his mother’s garden in Lincolnshire, the report said.