I have now lost the assumption that people think of the obvious things. It is just that assumption which has slowed the rate of invention. How many times have people definitively declared that all the worthwhile inventions have already been found?
Now I assume the opposite: That people have missed, not the complex rearrangements, but the fundamental ideas. I have an idea for an electric turbine which, if it hasn’t already been designed, will surprise me to no end – and yet not surprise me. I will visit a power plant when I get back to Tucson, to see how they do things.
Remember you and I were always trying to think up inventions? Well, I see now I was always been waiting for them to come to me, hoping some crumb would fall off the table of Great Ideas, a table I assumed had pretty much been cleared off before I got there, like a late-comer to the buffet.
All it took was rearranging my attitude (no small feat), so that now I do not wait for the ideas, I create them. The buffet is fully loaded, and all I had to do was to get up off the floor.
To date I have 97 inventions and ideas, some of which are very simple, fundamental designs. Some have probably been thought of; I know there is value in them because I found two of them pictured in the codices of Leonardo ad Vinci. If the ratio of saleable inventions is 10:1, it is still very favorable. Even 100:1 would make money!
Here is an example of what I mean by creating ideas: I was wondering last night if it were possible to build a barysphere which – unpressurized – could be sent to the bottom of the ocean. Right now we do it by pressurizing the interior gas (until it reaches toxic levels), or breathing oxygenated fluid so there is no gas to be decompressed.
At first I thought there is no way, the pressures would simply crush the sphere, and no structural design is going to hold back the ocean save an indestructible metal. But I believed there must be a way, and that if I applied my mind to the problem, I would find it.
It took me 30 minutes. It is not highly practical – though easy to build, and probably adaptable to a design which would allow for manipulating arms and cameras – but the point is that it solves the original puzzle, of how to send an unpressurized sphere all the way to the bottom of the ocean and back again.
I leave it to you as a puzzle. I will send the answer in my next e-mail if you don’t find it. As a hint – since I was thinking of this a lot before I started the puzzle, and so it helped me find the solution: There is a principle of the helicopter that can be used, if you look at how it operates in a backward way.