Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 19, 2022
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Get smart by going on vacation?

Last year, Indiana University researchers gave students a puzzle: A prisoner trapped in a tower has a length of rope that only reaches halfway to the ground. He divides the rope in half, ties the parts together and manages to escape safely. How?

Half the students were told the puzzle was written in Indiana — the other half, Greece. The Greece group solved the puzzle more often, which, along with other experiments, led the researchers to conclude in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology last fall, that “spatial distance” improves “creative cognition and insight problem solving.” It’s a bit of a stretch, certainly, but could it mean that travel is an intellectual necessity? (Still not sure about the puzzle’s solution? Maybe if you were on vacation you’d have gotten it by now. Dividing the rope in half could mean unravelling its strands.)

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