Richard Feynman was a physicist whose curiosity bled into every domain.
As a graduate student at Princeton University, his explorations led him to a biology class. Although he hadn’t studied biology in years, he found that he understood most of the content in the class.
Tasked with writing a paper about an experiment done on cats, Feynman realized he had no idea how all these muscles and tendons were related. He went down the library to look up the anatomy of a cat.
When it was time to present his paper in class, he started drawing the animal and naming all of the relevant muscles.
Then the students interrupted and said, “We know all that!”
And Feynman responded, “Oh, you do? Then no wonder I can catch up with you so fast after you’ve had four years of biology.”
“They had wasted all their time memorizing stuff like that, when it could be looked up in fifteen minutes.”
Story from Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman
Even before the internet, when you had to go the library to look things up, one of the most brilliant minds knew that memorization was a waste of time.