Inventive Minds: Creativity in Technology / Edition 1

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Is invention really "99 percent" perspiration and "one percent inspiration" as Thomas Edison assured us? Inventive Minds assembles a group of authors well equipped to address this question: 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 the origins of such remarkable devices as ultrasound, the electron microscope, and artificial diamonds. 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. Finally, cognitive psychologists explore the mental processes that figure in creative thinking. 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 information that will make absorbing reading for cognitive and social psychologists, social historians, and many working scientists and general readers who are interested in the psychology of personality and the roots of ingenuity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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 University

Successful contemporary inventors, historians of science and industry, and cognitive psychologists explore the nature of creativity as it surfaces in technological innovation. They look at classic inventors such as Faraday, Bell, Edison, and the Wright brothers; recent developments in several fields; and the logic and social context of inventions. The 17 papers are from a conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, November 1989. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195071702
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Oklahoma State University

Harvard Graduate School of Education

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Table of Contents

PART I: Setting the Stage
1. Perspiration in Perspective: Changing Perceptions of Genius and Expertise in American Invention, Robert Friedel
PART II: Classic Inventors
2. Inventing the Field: Michael Faraday and the Creative "Engineering" of Electromagnetic Field Theory, Ryan D. Tweney
3. A Cognitive Framework to Understand Technological Creativity: Bell, Edison, and the Telephone, W. Bernard Coulson and Michael E. Gorman
4. Why Wilbur and Orville? Some Thoughts on the Wright Brothers and the Process of Invention, Tom D. Crouch
PART III: Contemporary Inventors
5. Electron Microscopy and Microprobe Analysis: Recalling the Ambience of Some Inventions, U James Hillier
6. The Origin of Soft Tissue Ultrasonic and Early Instrumental Application to Clinical Medicine, John J. Wild
7. The Soil Biotron: An Underground Research Laboratory, James A. Teeri
8. The Synthesis of Diamonds, Robert H. Wentorf
9. The Origin and Development of the First Zeolite Catalyst for Petroleum Cracking, Edward Rosinski
10. Discovery and Invention in Polymer Chemistry,Paul W. Morgan
11. The Genesis of the Antiparasitic Drug Ivermectin, William C. Campbell
PART IV: The Logic of Invention
12. Stone Age Knife to Swiss Army Knife: An Invention Prototype, Robert J. Weber
13. The Topography of Invention, David N. Perkins
14. The Analytic Inventive Thinking Model, Jacob Helfman
PART V: The Social Context of Inventions
15. Invention in the Industrial Research Laboratory: Individual Act or Collective Process? The Case of the Pioneering Research Laboratory, Du Pont Fibers Department, 1928-1968, David A. Hounshell
16. Inventors and Corporations in the Maturing Electrical Industry, George Wise
17. Technology on the Move, Donald J. Quigg

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