Understanding Inventors Explanatory Task
The journalism club is creating a publication entitled “Inventions through the Ages”. Your class period is researching inventors in general. While preparing for the publication, you come across several different articles and sources.
After you have reviewed these sources, you will answer some questions. Briefly scan the sources and the question(s) based on the article. Then go back and read the sources carefully so you will have the information you will need to answer the questions and complete your research. You may use scratch paper to take notes.
In Part 2, you will write an explanatory paper using the information you have read.
Source # 1
How to Succeed as an Inventor: Chapter 1 by Goodwin B. Smith
“Patience and the investment of time and labor
for future results are essential
factors in every inventor’s success
(1) The field of invention is closed to no one. The studious mechanic may design and improve on the machine he operates. The day laborer, if dissatisfied with his lot, may devise means for lessening the toil of his class, and largely increase his earning capacity
. The busy housewife, not content with the drudgery incident to her household cares, may devise a means or article which will lighten her task, and prove a blessing to her sisters. The plodding clerk, without an iota of mechanical knowledge, may perfect
a system or an office appliance which will prove of vast benefit to himself and his fellows. The scientist may discover new forces and make new applications of old principles which will make the world marvel,—and so on through the whole category of crafts, occupations and professions.
(2) If one of the old Kings of Israel, centuries ago, voiced the sentiment that there was nothing new under the sun, do we not possess, at the present time, a similar mental attitude
, and are we not apt to say with him that there appears to be “nothing new under the sun”? Civilization begets new needs and wants; opportunities for new invention are multiplying at a tremendous rate. In other words, where an inventor, two centuries ago, would have had one hundred chances to “make good,” today the chances are multiplied many thousand-fold.
(3) No avenue of business can open up the possibilities of such enormous honors and fabulous money returns as a real invention which is in universal demand. The discoveries of the past form a record which is not only glorious, but points the man of genius of today in an unswerving manner to the possibilities which the future holds, and which are vastly greater than anything which has gone before. Each age finds the people convinced that human ingenuity has reached the summit of achievement, but the future will find forces, mechanical principles and combinations which will excite wonder, and prove to be of incalculable benefit to mankind.
(4) Our old friend Darius Green and his flying machine, that we heard about when we were children, was not as great a fool as he was imputed to be. Witness at the present time the marvelous results attained by inventors with air ships. We are proud of Wilbur and Orville Wright, who at this writing have just broken all records for Aeroplanes, or “machines heavier than air.” It seems that in five or ten years from now the navigation of the air will be a problem perfectly solved.
(5) (Since writing the above, on Thursday, September 17th, Orville Wright, at Fort Myer, Va., met with an accident to his machine, which resulted in the death of Lieutenant Selfridge, of the U.S. Army, and severe injuries to the inventor. The accident is said to have been due to the breaking of one of the propellers.)
(6) When you think that the first locomotives that were invented were considered wonders if they made a speed of eight to ten miles per hour, the chances are that within the next few years we will have airships going through space at incredible rates of speed.
(7) We might also, at this time, refer to the experiments of Count Zeppelin and Santos- Dumont, and the American, Professor Baldwin, in “dirigible balloons.” This type of airships will undoubtedly be superseded by the “Aeroplane,” or the “Helicopter.” The principal inventors in this line are Henry Farman, the French inventor, and Delagrange, the German. Wright Brothers hold the world’s record, at this time.
(8) Little did Murdock (who erected, in 1792, while an engineer in Cornwall, England, a little gasometer which produced gas enough to light his house and office) think that in the year 1908 no house would be considered as modern unless it was fully equipped with the gas for lighting and heating which he discovered and brought to practical use. It is also said that “while Murdock resided in Cornwall he made gas from every substance he could think of, and had bladders filled with it, with which, and his little steam carriage running on the road, he used to astonish the people.” No one is astonished at “little steam carriages,” or, in other words, automobiles, nowadays, one hundred and sixteen years later.
(9) Our grandparents, when they were young people, imagined that they were living in the “Golden Age,” and yet, we today would consider their lack
of what we nowadays consider positive necessities a mighty primitive and inconvenient manner in which to live. When the “wisest man,” centuries ago, is chronicled as saying, “There is nothing new under the sun,” they lived in tents, rode camels, fought with bows and arrows, sling shots and battering rams! While the Tower of Babel was possibly the first “skyscraper,” it did not contain express elevators, hot and cold water, telephones, call boxes, yale locks, granolithic floors, fire escapes, transom lifts, automatic sprinklers, stationary wash stands, water closets, steam or hot water heat, electric and gas lights, push buttons, sash weights, and so on ad infinitum. So you can readily appreciate the marvelous strides the human race is making in the way of material
development, and all, or nearly all of which has been due to the fertile brain and nimble wit of the inventors! Who will have the temerity to say when and where this development will stop, when Solomon, centuries ago, thought they had reached the limit?
(10) What will be the next wonderful invention? For instance, the perfected telephote? You, by stepping into a cabinet in Philadelphia, could have your photograph taken and shown in Boston, all by and through an electric wire! The Telephote may transmit light and color as the Telephone does sound
; why not a combination of the two, so you can see your friend perfectly when you talk to him on the ‘phone?
(11) Our grandparents thought they were as comfortable as possible
, and they were, because they did not know any better. Do we know better? One hundred years from now, possibly, our great, great-grandchildren will consider us as having lived in the “stone age.” The field of invention has no bars up,—you, all of us, are free to enter.
Source # 2
The Story of Albert Einstein
(1) Without any indication he was destined for something great, Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879. In fact, his mother thought Albert was extremely unusual. At the age of two-and-a-half, Einstein still wasn’t talking. When he finally did learn to speak, he uttered everything twice.
(2) Einstein did not know what to do with other children and his playmates called him “Brother Boring.” Because of that, the youngster played by himself much of the time. He especially loved mechanical toys and looked for them everywhere he went. Looking once at his newborn sister, Maja, he is believed to have said, “Fine, but where her wheels are?” Einstein began learning to play the violin at the age of six because his mother believed it was important. He later became a gifted amateur violinist, maintaining this skill throughout his life.
(3) Unfortunately, that awkwardness extended to school as well. A headmaster at one of his early schools once told his father that Einstein’s profession wouldn’t matter because, “he’ll never be successful at anything.” But Einstein was not a bad pupil. When he was fifteen months old, his family moved to Munich,Germany.
There, he went to high school and earned good grades in almost every subject
. He hated the strict school environment though, and often clashed with his teachers. At the age of 15, Einstein felt so stifled there that he left the school for good. He then took the entrance exams for college and although he failed some, his scores for Physics and Math were so good, they let him into the school.
(4) In 1900, at the age of 21, Albert Einstein was a college graduate and was employed.
He worked as a teaching assistant and gave private lessons on the violin before finally getting a job as a technical expert in Bern’s patent office. While he was supposed to be paying careful attention
to other people’s inventions, he was secretly developing many ideas of his own.
(5) One of his famous papers, published in 1905, was Einstein’s special Theory of Relativity. This theory had to do with time and distance not being absolute. His theory explained that two perfectly accurate and synced clocks would not continue to show the same time if they came together again after a journey where one traveled at a faster speed than the other. From this theory followed the world’s most famous formula which described the relationships between mass and energy:
E = mc2
(6) In 1915, he published his General Theory of Relativity, which provided a new idea of gravity. An eclipse of the sun in 1919 brought proof that his theory was accurate. Einstein had correctly calculated, in advance, the extent to which the light from fixed stars would be deflected through the sun’s gravitational field. The newspapers proclaimed his work as a ‘scientific revolution.’
(7) Einstein received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. He was showered with honors and invitations from all over the world and applauded by the press.
Source # 3
(1) Odds are, you’ve heard of iPods, iPhones, and Apple computers. And you’ve probably seen films like “Toy Story” or “Finding Nemo.” But you may not have heard of the man who is behind the scenes of all these ventures. His name is Steve Jobs, and he may be the single most influential person in American popular culture.
(2) Jobs was born in 1955. He was a fairly good student in high school, and was admitted to Reed College in 1971. However, his interests lay elsewhere. As a resident of Cupertino, California, Jobs lived near many of the most important computer companies in the world. These firms were growing as they brought the use of computers to almost every kind of business. Jobs attended lectures and business presentations, and got a job working at Atari, an early manufacturer of video games. After just one semester at Reed, Jobs dropped out and returned to Atari, where he met another young computer enthusiast, Steve Wozniak.
(3) In 1976, Jobs and Wozniak founded Apple Computers. Wozniak was a very good
computer engineer, which Jobs was not. Jobs’ role was to organize the business, to bring in new ideas, and to direct the creativity of the designers. The vision that Jobs and Wozniak shared was one that not too many people took seriously at the time: personal computers. Most people in the computer industry considered this a ludicrous idea. Why would someone want to buy a computer for home use? After all, computers were good for working with large numbers or sets of information, but they weren’t easy to learn and they didn’t seem to fit into the average person’s lifestyle.
(4) Jobs saw things differently. He imagined a computer that would be easy or even fun to use. He knew it would have to have a certain enjoyable style as well as practical use in the home, or people wouldn’t buy it.
(5) That kind of thinking inspired Apple’s first big success
– the Macintosh computer,
which came out in 1984. It was the first computer that used a white screen instead of black with green text. It was also the first to use a point-and-click mouse and pull- down command menus. Before that, computer users had to remember long lists of commands they had to type in order to get the computer to perform even simple
(6) The Macintosh was hardly Jobs’ only success
. He spent some time away from Apple in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. During this time he became the owner of Pixar Animation, a film studio that focused on computer-based graphics. Pixar had a string of hits, including “The Incredibles,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “WALL-E.”
(7) Jobs returned to head Apple and modernized the Macintosh line to take advantage of the growing internet boom. In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod, a device to play MP3 audio files, usually songs. Other devices already existed to play MP3s, but the iPod was easier to use, and it fit well with Apple’s online music store, iTunes.
(8) Similarly, when Apple came out a few years later with the iPhone, it was hardly the first cell phone. It wasn’t necessarily the best. But its catchy graphics and ease of use have made it the most popular cell phone.
(9) This is a theme that has run through all of Jobs’ work. He has a tremendous sense of what people want. Jobs isn’t a particularly impressive computer programmer, or designer. Thousands of people know more than he does about how to make a cell phone or music machine work. He doesn’t write or direct films – but he is heavily involved in choosing which films Pixar will make. He has the ability to understand what entertains an average person.
(10) This is true in the Macintosh, which has evolved from its early roots to become a favorite consumer brand. It’s also true in the development of the iPod. As his engineers showed Jobs their plans, he kept instructing them to make it simpler. He wanted any song to be no more than two clicks away. That insistence on making the devices fit people, rather than the other way around, is one of the reasons why he was voted America’s Most Powerful Businessman of 2007 by Fortune magazine.