The Art of the Doodle

Before an idea takes shape on a page or screen or inside a lab - and long before that same idea transforms our understanding of a disease or yields a solution to a problem once thought intractable - it exists in the imagination. That "existence" may be nothing more than a word or an image or a number that offers a vague glimpse of something bigger—a tantalizing Point A hinting at a paradigm-shifting Point B. How we get from A to B, of course, is a mystery. Maybe it's by sketching on a whiteboard or flip chart, by scribbling in a notebook or drafting equations on a post-it—anything to busy the hand while the mind does the hard work of converting a seedling of thought into a full-fledged discovery. Call it improvisation or doodling or "scratching" (in choreographer Twyla Tharp's memorable phrasing), here's how some of the minds at U-M SPH go about the business of growing their ideas.