Volume 2 Issue 52 | February 28 , 2009 |


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Editor's Note

Enterprise and Invention

Invention is often thought to be a by-product of boredom or laziness. The history of applied science is full of anecdotal accounts of things being invented, or even discovered, quite accidentally. If Newton had not been sitting under that apple tree on that fateful day, for example, we would never have found out about gravity. The story also goes that James Watt got his revolutionary idea for the steam engine by watching the kettle boil while he was very bored. There are hundreds of other such cute stories about invention or inspiration and most are probably made up. No one really knows whether Newton ever sat under an apple tree in his life. These stories make it look as though inventions sometimes just 'strike' the inventor like a bolt of lightning, or a divine gift. The truth, however, is probably many hours of hard work, failure and going back to improve one’s work results in useful inventions.

Our cover story is about an inventor who never had much money and lived in a quiet and fairly uneventful part of the country. He has done a lot with the little that he had, and has inspired hundreds of young people in his area to take up an interest in science and technology. Our current school curricula don't really encourage students to think inventively, to think not in terms of what they've already seen or read, but in terms of what could be. Students are encouraged to memorize or just learn, and not enough of them are asked to have the courage intellectually venture into uncharted territories. It's unlikely that any of us will be hit with any divine spark anytime soon. As Edison had suggested, perspiration is the thing that will make the real difference.

Abak Hussain
From the Insight Desk

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