humankind history has seen many innovators and inventors. the told tales of these great people are usually consisted of sudden moments of accidental discovery following revolutionary conclusions and solutions.
a falling apple, a sinking piece of lead, a steaming kettle, are examples that we’re all familiar with. yet the thing that has driven these famous people to do what they did is often neglected. the thing that makes them notice and use these moments and not walk by, like most people before them had done.
such great individuals are believed to have inborn innovative spirits. making it almost look impossible to redo what they did by just any ordinary person. in this book, we seek an answer to whether innovation is a true gift or obtainable by anyone as well.
traditional education is more and more blamed to kill innovative tendencies in students as they grow up. a good given reason for that is restricting students to unique answers for each question.
some untraditional emerging schools claim that their students end up more innovative when they leave than when they first entered.
however, if we look at innovation as a skill and not an obtained social characteristic through time, it would be far easier to just learn it at any time of life regardless of our luck with the schools that we’ve already went to.
like any other skill, taking an innovative approach has some rules and methods to follow.
the first important thing is, naturally, basic familiarity and knowhow in the field that we’re trying to be innovative. it is also much easier to come up with a new idea in a field that we are interested and more comfortable with.
digging more and more in our fields of interest, will automatically give us more chances of successfully using the following innovation methods.
here are some examples of such methods:
sometimes inventing is as easy as combining the right ingredients. for example, almost all modern pistols have a buffer spring at the front. the sliding bolt mechanism applies its force to the front of this buffer spring. this is the main reason behind the short length and compactness of all handguns.
automatic rifles and sub-machine-guns on the other hand, had always had their buffer springs placed behind their bolts. that’s just because they were first invented like this and it was the simplest way to convert bolt action system to automatic.
the decision of putting the buffer spring behind the bolt, has caused most of rifles and sub-machine-guns to devote a large part of their length to long buffer springs. for comparison, imagine a pistol with a buffer spring behind its bolt; the resulting pistol would just be a catastrophe. it would be twice as long a normal pistol with no improvement to performance, maybe even worse performance.
the sad thing is that the much newer bullpup rifles and sub-machine-guns also put their buffer springs behind their bolts. which is totally against their very philosophy of designing a shorter gun while maintaining original barrel length.
the fact that almost no rifle designer has noticed this problem till now is definitely something to think about. the most probable reason could be that nobody believed this was a problem at all. “guns are already at their best, if you want to improve; do research in laser guns, link your ridiculously long rifles to a camera, stream the data on a network…”
the conclusion is that we can have much shorter rifles by using what has been done in pistols for more than a century; that is combining the right ingredients without necessarily inventing anything.
another example for this method is a combination of a muzzle break and a diffused muzzle for assault rifles:
rifles, cannons and the like, use muzzle breaks to decrease recoil. the function is done by sending muzzle high pressure smoke sideways, having them cancelling their push back force.
there is an interesting mortar gun designated as M252 that is famous for having low blast noise. the reason for blast noise is due to the sudden introducing of high pressured gas to open air. in M252, a diffuser is placed at the barrel’s end to gradually decrease the pressure, resulting reduced blast noise.
it would be interesting to combine a muzzle break and the diffuser, resulting a muzzle break that has two diffusers at both sides. this could possibly combine the advantages, decreasing weapon kickback and blast noise simultaneously.
sometimes you invent something simply by trying to get more of what you want and pushing it to the extremes.
for example, a jet fighter’s best advantage over older piston fighter planes is its speed. if you decide that speed is what you want for a good plane, you’ll start to see how much faster you can make a jet fighter go.
the technological barriers in this field are clearly overwhelming. now you understand that waiting countless experimental projects and spending billions of dollars could be boring and costly. you may decide that it’s just easier to use current technology in an extreme way.
jet fighters usually come one or two jet engines and a sleek bodywork. why not we strap four engines to a slightly changed jet fighter? the thrust power of two engines lets the current fighters reach Mach 2, four engines would definitely help the same fighter go a lot faster if not twice as Mach 2. the important thing is that it would be faster than its rivals.
it is obvious that this decision comes with a high price of using double amount of fuel and the added weight of two more engines, but it will give the jet fighter a much needed edge over all its rivals. ordinary missiles and pursuing dogfighters will have a much harder time hitting the newly designed super-fast plane. a jet fighter that no longer needs expensive stealth technology because it can no longer be harmed or tailed; and in return, it would be able to easily get behind hostile jets and finish them off.
a living example is the SR-71 blackbird recon plane that has a record of being shot with 4000 seeking missiles without any of them hitting it; simply because it was faster than missiles. why not do the same thing in jet fighters as well?
another example for this method could be explained in the world of assault rifles. at the start of the 20th century, an idea emerged in rifle design that said: shorter rifles shouldn’t necessarily come with shorter barrels as well.
a longer barrel helps the bullet use up the pressure blast of black powder and catch up velocity as long as the barrel goes.
the need for having shorter rifles in cavalry and later on in motorized troops lead the designers to cut down their guns form front and lose length, barrel, range and stopping power all at the same time.
the invention of bullpup rifles however made it possible to have a shorter rifle while maintaining original barrel length. this was achieved by putting the main chamber and firing mechanism behind the pistol and trigger of the rifle.
as mentioned above, the main goal of inventing the bullpup layout is making a shorter rifle while maintaining original barrel length. so why not fulfill this goal to the absolute end? why stop at a weapon with a 50cm (20inch) barrel that still has 30cm (12inch) of wasted length?
by using the example of handguns discussed in method 1, putting the buffer spring in front of the bolt mechanism can easily decrease the length of a normal bullpup rifle by another 15cms (6inchs). this means you can have an assault rifle as short as a MP5 sub-machine-gun and still shoot from a standard 50cm (20inch) barrel of a full sized M16.
all this is achieved by a simple relocation of a buffer spring and no dramatic changes to the bolt and bolt assembly; unlike more complicated designs like the TKB-022’s vertical moving bolt and such.
sometimes, inventing in the current atmosphere seems impossible. maybe it is time to forget everything and start with nothing in mind; pretending that it is centuries back in the past and you’ve just encountered the problem.
this might sound like re-inventing the wheel, but keep in mind that you might end up with something more interesting like hovering on air or caterpillar tracks.
for example, let’s think about a firearm and what it truly does; throwing a fast projectile to damage its target. for 500 years, black powder has been used for this purpose and today’s guns seem to be at the end of their development curve.
using alternate sources of energy like electro-magnetic, laser or even high pressure air from a compressor can open entirely new ways for making better guns.
the story of copying the concord supersonic commercial airplane by the USSR is a good example of this method. rather than trying to figure out the complexity of the wing design in order to stabilize it correctly, they added one additional set of mini wings in front and made the plane work anyway. this was a less complex way that they knew how to build.
another example is using pencils instead of researching on how they could make a zero gravity working pen.
this method strongly insists on getting the job done with minimalistic approach. the simplicity of design and thinking around the problem rather than facing it hopelessly, is almost another skill to be learned. it can help us lot to stay innovative when things get tough.
it is no secret that there are numerous inventions and technologies laying around in shelves, catching dust. these are the innovations that weren’t received as good as they deserved it. while some not very useful today, others might be exactly what we want.
the reason of ignoring most of these inventions are mostly economic or due to a lack of public appeal at the time. needless to say that these factors change over time and some forgotten invention might become useful again.
this is where studying past inventions or ideas really becomes interesting and not just a history dig for history’s sake. since such inventions and ideas are abandoned and long forgotten, their value must often be appreciated with an open mind and more passion than before.
beta radiation and beta-voltaic batteries are one of those inventions and ideas. these batteries deliver low yields of electricity over incredibly long periods of time. while there are some materials that emit beta radiation (flying electrons) that aren’t classified “dangerous for health”, the mere mention of “radiation” made the use of these batteries scary for public and limited the application to heart pacers or space missions.
as electric cars thrive, beta-voltaic technology can help making cars that don’t need charging for several years. the first thing that this technology needs is a change of opinion over dangers. after that, a boost to the electricity production and proper integration to automotive application is all it needs to compete with current electric car energy supply solutions.
imagine small crack in a rock with little drops of water as your only source of water; the only way of using this given source is through accumulation. that is collecting the little drops of water in a water tank and then using it to wash for example. most new technologies have little yields of power or performance like that small drops of water.
a common example is in clean energy sources like solar power and fuel cells. their low yield can be helped by storing their generated energy in larger capacitors and batteries to save power for when great amounts are needed or no energy is generated.
this method could be described as making a lake out of rain drops.
markets an industries aren’t usually fond of new ideas. the majority of factories and businesses prefer relying on tested and safe ways, designs and technologies. these natural conservative tendencies in investments, combined with lack of foresight, is the main reason many promising ideas and inventions are simply cast aside.
one sad example is the invention of electric cars; first by Thomas Edison and later reappearing in 1970s. car manufacturers of the day didn’t like the low costs of maintenance of electric cars. this short term estimate of the profits and the low price of gasoline, postponed one of the most important breakthroughs in transportation history and made it start its real development almost 40 years later.
it must be noted that new ideas and technologies help each other in synergy; therefore, delaying one great idea will usually lead to the delaying of several others. since most new inventions need time to fully develop and deliver their real potentials, these delays will hold us back and waste a lot of resources and potentials.
another difficulty in the way of new thinking and innovation is the withhold of science and unreachable knowledge. research centers, companies and authorities spend considerable amounts of money and resources in researching and developing technologies based on advanced science. however, for the clear reason of keeping superiority over rivals, most of this highly advanced breakthroughs are kept secret. this means that most of the money and resources existing in the world is being used in matters that hardly benefit the daily lives of the people that it belongs to.
it is now a commonly accepted phenomenon that knowledge and technology belongs firstly to whom who creates it, but just think of what would have happened if such laws have existed from the beginning of humankind’s civilization. many discoveries and inventions would have severely delayed because of withholding knowledge and science.
the clash of interests and constant hostilities is one other major reason behind the slow development of humankind despite all the scientific advances.
most important thing in new thinking and innovation is the will for it. as long as we’re content with what we have and current paradigms, no new idea can rise and be successful.
humankind history has seen many innovators and inventors. the told tales of these great people are usually consisted of sudden moments of accidental discovery following revolutionary conclusions and solutions. a falling apple, a sinking piece of lead, a steaming kettle, are examples that we're all familiar with. yet the thing that has driven these famous people to do what they did is often neglected. the thing that makes them notice and use these moments and not walk by, like most people before them had done. in this book, we seek an answer to whether innovation is a true gift or obtainable by anyone as well.