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Think Like a Rocket Scientist

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Think Like a Rocket Scientist

Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life

Public Affairs,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Boldly go on an engaging romp through the history of space travel, with its daring, sometimes overconfident, rocket scientists.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


When author Ozan Varol was 17 and living in Istanbul, he read about NASA’s Mars Landing project and the work that Cornell University was doing to support it. He wrote to the lead professor, describing his computer skills, and landed a job on the Mars program, along with a scholarship. Varol’s remarkable journey since then has relied on thinking like a rocket scientist. But as Varol points out, even rocket scientists fall prey to human biases and lazy thinking. With a fresh, engaging perspective, Varol elucidates the advantages of open-mindedness, careful thinking and bold action.


Though it takes effort, you can and should learn to think like a rocket scientist – that is, creatively and critically.

Scientists think differently than the average person; they put earthly concerns into universe-level perspective. In the face of seemingly intractable problems, they see opportunity. They doubt and test commonly accepted facts and assumptions, including their own, and they resist quick wins to achieve long-term breakthroughs. As the pace of change and disruption quickens in every domain, and misinformation proliferates, this kind of thinking grows more essential – for rocket scientists and everyone else.

The universe remains deeply mysterious, filled almost entirely with dark matter and dark energy. Rocket scientists, therefore, embrace uncertainty. Consider that a Mars rover requires six minutes to descend from the top of Mars’s atmosphere and land, but it takes 12 minutes for transmissions to travel to Earth at the speed of light, and a further 12 minutes for return communications to make the reverse journey. During the intervening time, the rover flies blind. NASA’s scientists and engineers have to cope...

About the Author

Ozan Varol is an author and tenured law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School.

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