"An Inventor Never Grows Up" Margolin, George (1997)

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"An Inventor Never Grows Up"
George Margolin (1997)

URL: www.inventionconvention.com/americasinventor (click link)

SITE SUMMARY: Margolin is an inventor, former science teacher, and holder of multiple patents, who is best known for his involvement with background systems for the motion picture 2001: A Space Odyssey. This article can be found in the "Exploring the Inventor's Mind: Reflections on the Creative Problem-Solving Process" section of the online magazine America's Inventor. In this article, Margolin reveals that there is something unique in every inventor's personality, and points out what is fascinating in the world of inventing and invention. (Other areas of America's Inventor include: "Profiles of Great Inventors," "Headlines and News Briefs," "Reviews" [of books, Web sites, etc.], "Mastering the Invention Process," "Critiquing the Industry," and "EarthTrends—A Look to the Future of Inventing.")


  1. What are nine words Thomas Edison said, which he believed to be "the keys to invention" and "the key to a happy and productive life"? (Hint: See paragraphs one and two.)
  2. Keeping in mind that Margolin considers Edison's words to be his credo and "a nine word formula for a fun filled, fruitful life," what, briefly, according to Margolin, is an inventor, the mind of an inventor, and where does an inventor "live"? (Hint: See paragraphs three, four, and five.)
  3. Identify five or six considerations involving the world of the inventor. (Hint: See paragraph four.)
  4. What is so about some people (e.g., scientists, inventors, "explorers of the new and different")? How does an inventor see? What happens, and what can these people do, because of what is referred to in the two questions just above? (Hint: See paragraphs five and eleven.)
  5. What does Margolin say, in positive ways, about making mistakes, and mistakes and inventors? (Hint: See paragraphs five and six.)
  6. Why do some people become, or remain, inventors, explorers, etc.? (Hint: See paragraph eight.)
  7. Think about, then state, as suggested by Margolin, the differences between good facts and bad facts, and being childish or childlike. (Hint: See paragraph ten, then paragraph nine.)
  8. What does Margolin say about "every inventor" and "every child"? (Hint: See paragraph eleven.) These statements may be called examples of a type of syllogism (a way of thinking logically, first mentioned by Aristotle). Think of another syllogism on a science subject and explain. (Tip: Help is at the Web sites: Aristotle's Logic [especially Aristotle's Syllogism, Logic (at philosophyclass.com)], Syllogism [at bartleby.com] [especially: Categorical Syllogism]. [Full urls are cited in this book's Appendix F.])
  9. Keeping in mind Margolin's comments referred to in the first part of Question/Activity no. 8 above, and in Questions/Activities nos. 1 through 7, describe a well-known invention; then think of, and describe, in two hundred words, something you could invent. (Note: Be sure to explain each choice for your descriptions in ways that show what is at work with reference to Margolin's credo or "nine-word formula"; or something related to them that he notes in his essay.) (Tip: For help, see these Web sites [with urls] cited in the Related Internet Sites section below [e.g., Smithsonian Institution—Inventors and Inventions—Selected Links, National Inventors Hall of Fame—Inventions and Inventors Search, Greatest Engineering Achievements of the Twentieth Century, Idea Finder—Contents], and other areas of the America's Inventor magazine site cited in the Site Summary at the beginning of this chapter.)


Thomas Edison Online


At this site, Rutgers University, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the New Jersey Historical Commission, and others are gradually providing online versions of the texts of fifteen to twenty print volumes of Edison's writings, ranging from 1847 through 1910. Edison's patents are now available, as are documents from 1847 through 1898. See also links to About Edison's Papers, biographies, bibliographies, and related resources on the Web.

Smithsonian Institution—Inventors and Inventions—Selected Links


Note the links to Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for Study of Invention and Innovation (documenting, disseminating information about invention and innovation, and featuring Featured Inventors), Edison's Timeline of Invention, Edison After Forty, Women Inventors of the Twentieth Century; Science, Technology, and Invention in … the Southwestern United States; African American Invention and Innovation 1619 through 1930, Spotlight Biography—Inventors, and Information Sources for Inventions, plus photo links leading to information on famous inventors and inventions.

Lemelson—MIT Program Celebrating Invention and Innovation


Click the Invention Dimension link, then the Inventor of the Week link, then its Browse Archive link. Next, click the Browse by Invention link, then click a name link beside an invention for information on the invention, invention's date and inventor.

Science and Invention News—Links to Resources


Components of Creativity


This site states and describes five steps of creativity that apply to inventing. Quotations on creativity by noted people are featured.

Abraham Lincoln's Second Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions (February 11, 1859)


This lecture, given before Lincoln became president of the United States, was presented to the Young Men's Association of Bloomington Illinois. An introduction is provided by Abraham Lincoln Online, copyrighted 2002, and notes Lincoln's own invention.

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper


This biography is provided courtesy of The Women's Museum in Texas. It gives information about the woman who invented the computer language COBOL, and was a pioneer in the development of computer technology. It also reveals the story behind her coining the phrase "computer bug."

Quotations on the Value of Inventions


The Intellectual Property Creators Organization provides quotations on the value of inventions and patents, especially of computers, telephone and radio, airplanes and rockets, and other inventions. Other quotations are on predictions of the value of some inventions. Some featured quotations are by the Founding Fathers, U.S. presidents, lawyers and judges, among others.

National Inventors Hall of Fame—Inventions and Inventors Search


Choose to browse by inventor or invention by first letter of inventor's last name or name of invention. Next, choose a letter, and then an inventor's name or an invention name link to get to a page with a brief description of the invention, the inventor's biography, plus statement on the invention's impact, patent number, date of induction in the Hall of Fame, and links to sites with more data. Note: you may also choose to browse by induction date from 1973 to present, or by inventions by decade from 1790 to present. Search by subject via invention channels link is also possible. See also links to overview to the Hall of Fame and induction information.

Greatest Engineering Achievements of the Twentieth Century


See links to data on twenty great achievements, with introductions, time lines, and historical essays, from water production to laser optics.

Idea Finder—Contents


See the information and links on Idea History (e.g., Invention Facts and Myths, Inventor Profiles, Innovation Timeline, and Invention Trivia), Idea Showcase (e.g., Great Idea Award Winners, and Idea Catalog), Features (e.g., Calendar History, Idea Wish List, and Words of Wisdom), Resource Center, Guest Services (e.g., Archives), and Information (e.g., FAQs, and What's New), and Home Page.

"Ellen Is … Co-Inventor of Three Patents …" in Meet NASA Astronaut Ellen Ochoa

http://www.girlpower.gov/girlarea/gpguest/ochoa.htm (see also link to NASA biography)

"Dr. Clift and Co-Inventor Peggy Whitson … NASA Astronauts Have Invented a Device …"

http://www.universetoday.com/html/articles/2001-0115c.html (see also NASA biography at http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/whitson.html)

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"An Inventor Never Grows Up" Margolin, George (1997)

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"An Inventor Never Grows Up" Margolin, George (1997)