Nobel laureate Albert Einstein formulated his theory of relativity mainly with the help of Gedankenexperiment. It’s a German term for thought experiments. In a thought experiment, one doesn’t conduct an actual test in the lab but uses imagination and logic to explore problems and generate insights.
Imagination is more important than knowledge, said Einstein. So let’s start today’s discussion with a thought experiment.
Imagine there was a sophisticated device which could measure happiness. Taking inspiration from the thermometer, we’ll call our device Happymeter. Once we attach this instrument to someone’s skull, it would show the amount of happiness and content that person is feeling at that time.
We’ll select two volunteers for our Gedankenexperiment. Our Happymeter tells that the present mental state of these individuals is 1000 units each. Now, these volunteers go through (in our imagination) two wildly different events.
1. The first person wins 10 million dollar lottery.
2. The second person gets into a terrible accident and both his legs are amputated.
Can you guess each person’s mental state one year down the line after the above two events have happened? In the first case, would his mental state be less than or more than 1000?
Of course, it would be more than 1000. Isn’t it? After all, he’s a wealthy man now.