First Principles Thinking

I've been done my engineering in Mechanical specialization, +2 with Physics as one of the majors, but unfortunately, in these six straight years of core scientific learnings, none of my faculties have neither taught me the "First Principles Thinking" in Physics, nor it's importance in the scientific world.

Let me try briefing the First Principles in the next 1000 words, viz;

Aristotle is the founding father of the First Principles concept, and his definition is that "It's the first basis from which a thing is known."

Basically, the FP asks us to question each and everything that is being involved in the process. Arguably, it's one of the most effective thinking to break down the complex problem into subproblems, and further break it down until the core complexity is identified.

This can be quite connected with Socrates' questioning, which Socrates described as the disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning which helps the learner to think deeply.

Noble Prize-winning physicist Professor Richard Feynman said that "The first principle is that you should not fool yourself, and you are the easiest one to get fooled." Professor Feynman is arguably one of the brightest brains that solved almost everything from the first principles approach.

However, as James Clear says, nobody in the current world can embody First Principles thinking like the entrepreneur, Lord Elon Musk.

Elon's definition of First Principles is that "You boil things down to their fundamental truth, and then you reason up from there."

Elon explained the emergence of SpaceX beautifully.

He said, "I tend to approach things from a physics framework. Physics teaches you to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. "So I said, okay, let’s look at the first principles. What is a rocket made of? Aerospace-grade aluminum alloys, plus some titanium, copper, and carbon fiber. Then I asked, what is the value of those materials on the commodity market? It turned out that the materials cost of a rocket was around 2% of the typical price.”

In fact, Elon used the same principle for the idea of electric cars whose result today is Tesla! No, I'm not making it up here!

Mic-drop! Yup, Elon is a legend.

Now, that's the power of First Principles. Hope at least our Physics professors teach the youngsters to think from the FP approach, which is indeed the nectar for the hard-core science.

Hey! No, I don't mean to offend any of my teachers here. Perhaps just venting my heart out.

#FirstPrinciples #Physics #Elonmusk




"Your mistake is that you are writing to be read." - Naval Ravikant

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Top Tips for Joint Honours Students

5 Best Way to Memorize Things While You Study

Corporal Turned Capital: Considering Restorative Justice as an Intervention to the…

Science is boring

The Role of Imagination in Academia

Navigating my University of Leeds degree online — from India

Growing Into a Successful College Student


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Vikyath Kumar

Vikyath Kumar

"Your mistake is that you are writing to be read." - Naval Ravikant

More from Medium

View from the arXiv: Mar 21 — Mar 25 2022

Understanding Skye

Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter | Notes & Review

I am an AI, and I want to save your life