‘Promising New Ideas’ and Intense Focus

In a new study published on Monday in Nature Communications, a team of scientists said it had discovered the key to “hot streaks,” or periods of intense and successful artistic productivity. The paper cites Jackson Pollock’s four-year period of intense productivity and success with his drip paintings. 

In a previous paper, Dashun Wang and a team of researchers had proven the existence of hot streaks. “In scientific careers, we see that it is in a four to five year period where scientists publish their best work,” he said. “Ninety percent of scientists experience a hot streak, and it usually happens once.”

But one discovery complicated his findings. “There is equal probability that the hot streak could occur in the beginning, middle, or end of a career,” Wang said. “It seemed like a random magical period.” This puzzle set the team on a three-year journey to understand what kinds of conditions precede a hot streak.

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