Inventive Minds
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Inventive Minds : Creativity in Technology

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Is invention really "99 percent perspiration" and "one percent inspiration" as Thomas Edison assured us? Or does invention involve little recognized, often hidden principles that are accessible to most of us? Inventive Minds assembles a group of authors well qualified to address these questions: contemporary inventors of important new technologies, historians of science and industry, and cognitive psychologists interested in the process of creativity. In telling their stories, the inventors describe their groundbreaking work on ultrasound, synthetic fibers, petroleum cracking catalysts, electron microscopes, wonder drugs, artificial diamonds, and underground observatories. The historians help us look into the minds of innovators like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Michael Faraday, and the Wright brothers, drawing on original notebooks and other sources to show how they made their key discoveries. The historians also reveal the dramatic transition from craft shop to the modern industrial laboratory. Finally, psychologists and educators explore the mental processes that figure in creative thinking and its cultivation in children and adults. Contributing to the authors' insight is their special focus on the "front end" of invention - where ideas come from and how they are transformed into physical prototypes. They answer three questions: How does invention happen? How does invention contrast with other commonly creative pursuits such as scientific inquiry, musical composition, or painting? And how might invention best happen - that is, what kinds of settings, conditions, and strategies appear to foster inventive activity? The book yields a wealth of insight for all those fascinatedby the psychology of creativity, the history of invention, and the roots of human ingenuity.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 154.9 x 233.7 x 27.9mm | 748.44g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • halftones, line figures
  • 0195071700
  • 9780195071702

Back cover copy

Is invention really "99 percent perspiration" and "one percent inspiration" as Thomas Edison assured us? Or does invention involve little recognized, often hidden principles that are accessible to most of us? Inventive Minds assembles a group of authors well qualified to address these questions: contemporary inventors of important new technologies, historians of science and industry, and cognitive psychologists interested in the process of creativity. In telling their stories, the inventors describe their groundbreaking work on ultrasound, synthetic fibers, petroleum cracking catalysts, electron microscopes, wonder drugs, artificial diamonds, and underground observatories. The historians help us look into the minds of innovators like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Michael Faraday, and the Wright brothers, drawing on original notebooks and other sources to show how they made their key discoveries. The historians also reveal the dramatic transition from craft shop to the modern industrial laboratory. Finally, psychologists and educators explore the mental processes that figure in creative thinking and its cultivation in children and adults. Contributing to the authors' insight is their special focus on the "front end" of invention - where ideas come from and how they are transformed into physical prototypes. They answer three questions: How does invention happen? How does invention contrast with other commonly creative pursuits such as scientific inquiry, musical composition, or painting? And how might invention best happen - that is, what kinds of settings, conditions, and strategies appear to foster inventive activity? The book yields a wealth of insight for all those fascinatedby the psychology of creativity, the history of invention, and the roots of human ingenuity.show more

Review quote

"Successful contemporary inventors, historians of science and industry, and cognitive psychologists explore the nature of creativity as it surfaces in technological innovation." --SciTech Book News"Weber and Perkins . . . assembled an impressive panel of historians, inventors, and psychologists who examine, in some detail, the work leading up to the development of various new technologies. . . . this book is well worth reading because it provides some important clues about the cognitive process used to solve technical problems." --Contemporary Psychology"This is an excellent collection that brings together both work on innovation by people who study it and the reflections of those who have done it. It provoked several class discussions that went well beyond the material and into issues none of us had thought about."--Thomas Hewett, Drekel Universityshow more

Table of contents

Introduction: The Unphilosopher's stone; Part I: Setting the Stage: Robert Friedel: Perspiration in perspective: Changing perceptions of genius and expertise in American invention; Part II: Classic Inventors: Ryan D. Tweney: Inventing the Field: Michael Faraday and the creative "engineering" of electromagnetic field theory; W. Bernard Coulson & Michael E. Gorman: A cognitive framework to understand technological creativity: Bell, Edison, and the telephone; Tom D. Crouch: Why Wilbur and Orville? Some thoughts on the Wright brothers and the process of invention; Part III: Contemporary Inventors: James Hillier: Electron microscopy and microprobe analysis: Recalling the ambience of some inventions; John J. Wild: The origin of soft tissue ultrasonic echoing and early instrumental application to clinical medicine; James A. Teeri: The soil biotron: An underground research laboratory; Robert H. Wentorf: The synthesis of diamonds; Edward Rosinski: The origin and development of the first zeolite catalyst for petroleum cracking; Paul W. Morgan: Discovery and invention in polymer chemistry; William C. Campbell: The genesis of the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin; Part IV: The Logic of Invention: Robert J. Weber: Stone Age knife to Swiss army knife: An invention prototype; David N. Perkins: The topography of invention; Jacob Helfman: The analytic inventive thinking model; Part V: The Social Context of Inventions: David A. Hounshell: Invention in the Industrial Research Laboratory: Individual act or collective process? The case of the Pioneering Research Laboratory, Du Pont Fibers Department, 1928-1968; George Wise: Inventors and corporations in the maturing electrical industry; Donald J. Quigg: Technology on the move; Robert J. Weber & David N. Perkins: Effable invention; Conclusion; Biographical sketches; Index.show more