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Methodical Approaches to Invention

Want to be an inventor? Join in. It can be learned. There are methodical approaches.

The Compound Eye Principle

One of the most productive and popular approaches. Take something and make it an element of something bigger or more complex. Or vice versa — take something and divide it into parts, each resembling the whole you started with.

For example, consider a ship whose hold is divided into many bulkheads. The space between adjacent bulkheads looks little like an individual ship. However, it serves the function of the whole ship: if one segment leaks, only that segment will “sink” and the neighboring ones will support it.

In coming up with this ingenious innovation, the unknown ancient inventor hardly started with the idea of fastening many boats together. He was probably helped by observing individual puddles on the bottom of the boat. Cross beams and low bulkheads were still necessary when building long enough boats. But this does not invalidate the essence of the method. If the ancients had known this method, many things would have appeared earlier and in more regions.

Another important example is franchising (cloning method in business).

The relevant section of higher mathematics: matrices and tensor calculus.

Nature also “applies” this method. Facet vision itself, which gave its name to the principle, is a perfect example of this.

Another example is caterpillars. Characteristically, because of the “bios” in the DNA code, they cannot have more than six limbs. To apply the principle, various substitutes, such as suckers, are used on some segments.

Perhaps the most important natural example is biochemistry itself. All large molecules are built from monomers (little bricks) — amino acids, nucleotides, sugars. Inside the monomer, atoms are connected by strong carbon bonds. The different monomers are linked together by weak ether and peptide bonds. This engineering makes it easy to disassemble unwanted proteins and RNA into monomers and assemble new proteins and RNA without damaging the monomers themselves.

Some other examples of “compound eye” inventions:

In this case, the invention is about how to fool people.
Information presentation format invented by Pinterest.

Chain Shot Principle

You can throw one kernel, or you can split it into two parts and tie them together. The result is a knuppel (or a bolas if there are three parts). It has new effects. The two parts intelligently complement each other.

The division of the whole can occur into unequal, differently functioning parts. This is most often the case. The type of communication between the parts can be different. For example, a sports car can be equipped with a drone wirelessly connected to it, so that the navigator can see if there are oncoming cars around the corner. Another similar example is a remote sounder on ships.

Some boats can be improved by tying a relatively light trailer to them on which you can place a noisy electric generator. From a distance, it does not interfere with its noise and still feeds your boat’s electric motor through a sturdy wire.

People in expedition camps do the same, moving their generators farther away, closer to the water, where they can also be better cooled. The main expedition camp and the generator remain a single functional unit.

Continuing with the topic of power supplies, I can mention a simple but money-making trick of hardware manufacturers. Most “ultra-thin” laptops and “super-flat” monitors have an external current transformer. It remains an integral part of the device, and you still have to carry it with you on business trips. Of course, this invention is on the verge of cheating, but dishonest money is still money!

In biology, an example of the discussed principle is the head. Insects, spiders, mollusks, and many other animals have no head, but a front part of the body with a mouth and receptors. But in chordates, the head is physiologically separated. This “invention” of nature allowed to protect the brain from harmful substances and increase its volume. If a rat is injected with blue paint, the whole body, except for the head, turns blue.

Obviously, a giraffe’s head is a physically separate thing. When there is no head, the same principle can be used to make the eyes separate, like a crab for example.

An example of how the chain shot principle works in business is the brand. The brand is an integral part of the company, but it is not necessary, in a purely physical sense, unlike the production, sales, or accounting departments. Nevertheless, a company with a good brand can be more flexible and efficient than one with only a good product.

Another great example is the alienation of the second part. Record the sound of birds of prey and broadcast it near airports. You thus steal from one entity its “brand” and tie it to another entity. In a similar way, but in the opposite direction, the decoy, a special whistle used by hunters to fool ducks and other animals, works.

Pharmaceutical companies do this all the time, appropriating the reputation of scientists. The real business is hiding behind science and taking advantage of people’s habit of “believing in science.

There is a grandiose economic example. The principle I describe illustrates well the idea of separate circuits of money for consumers and public investment. This state of affairs existed in reality. And the successes of this approach are truly impressive.

A modern economic example is the {value+NFT link}. An NFT (non-fungible token) is a negotiable cryptocurrency account unit that allows an object of value and its provenance to be transferred from owner to owner without registration with transaction and provenance authorities; all encoded in the token itself.

Many branch campuses, especially well-known colleges, operate in this paradigm. Provincial affiliates rarely provide even a fraction of the quality that a central campus provides, but this bundling allows services to be sold across a wider geography and price range.

Tacking Principle

Sailing against the wind — tacking — is a way to simultaneously use the main force in the system (wind) and evade the vector (direction) of force. Clever evasion of the inevitable. The device seems to divert some of the energy to the side, dodging that force, creating asymmetry in the system.

In some devices, the presence of the “angle of evasion” idea is not always easy to recognize at a glance. Here, for example, is an anti-tank projectile.

Surprisingly, a shaped charge exploding near the armored hull of a tank actually moves more mass backward than forward. Only a small portion of the charge’s mass hits the target, moving forward and passing through the armor like a hot knife through butter.

Tiny droplets moving the direction opposite to the object that created waves have a similar nature.

This small mass moves at a high velocity, sufficient for the object to leave the Earth’s gravitational field and be launched into space. At the same time, most of the mass of the charge (i.e., the bullet) moves backward to balance this momentum in accordance with the law of conservation. Because of this extremely high velocity, metals behave like liquids at the encounter, so the “bullet” simply “falls” through the impenetrable armor. In general, cumulative charges achieve their effect by making the target behave as if it were in a different physical state than the one for which it was designed.

The idea is that the explosives are placed at an angle, in the form of an “empty cone”. When the charge approaches the armor of the tank but does not touch it, an explosion occurs. This happens on the principle of an airbag with a sensor in the bumper. In the next nanosecond, the substance rushes toward each other at an angle. And this is what creates the desired effect.

Many quasi-religious sects operate in a similar way, creating opposition to the mainstream. Low mass (few people), but high velocity (stubbornness and stupid insanity of judgment). The modern Woke sect is eroding Western society in exactly this way.

A classic example of the principle under discussion is the Archimedes screw. This device creates an asymmetry with respect to the seemingly irresistible force of gravity. It takes the water somewhere to the side but does not let it leave the system completely and gradually lifts it up.

The usual bolt plus nut set works on the same principle — it takes the force to the side. This principle is also used in skating, carving on skis, snowboarding.

The tapered wheels used on all locomotives and railroad cars operate in the same paradigm. Roughness creates a return force, so trains don’t go off the rails.

More examples:

Thank you, Jethro Tull!



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Lex Ionin

When what I love comes to me, I meet it with serenity. What I don't love, I trash with angry trolling.