Are innovations invented or discovered? We have debated this question for many years. Some people believe innovations are inventions, while others believe they are discoveries.
With people's growing curiosity to understand how to be more creative, more innovative, there is a strong desire to learn the answer to this question. To understand if innovations are invented or discovered, we must first understand the difference.
Inventions result from deliberate human action. People who have a specific purpose or goal in mind create them. Inventors use their creativity and knowledge to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems.
While chance or accident makes discoveries. They are not the result of deliberate human action. People can stumble upon discoveries while they are looking for something else entirely.
So, are innovations invented or discovered? The answer is both. Some innovations result from deliberate human action (inventions), while others are stumbled upon by accident (discoveries). In either case, innovation is bringing new ideas or solutions into existence.
Subconscious Role In Invention and Discovery of Innovations
What about the subconscious making connections? Is that invention or discovery?
We might consider your subconscious making connections a type of discovery. Researchers often describe the subconscious as a ‘storehouse' of information. It contains all the memories, experiences, and knowledge that a person has ever acquired. So, when the subconscious makes a connection, it draws on this vast information store to find a connection that the conscious mind may not be aware of.
Sometimes, people might know they are making a connection, but they are not consciously trying to invent anything. For example, a person might have a ‘eureka moment' while they are taking a shower. Here, the person is not consciously trying to invent anything, but the connection they make is still an invention.
Irrespective of innovations resulting from invention or discovery, it is still a new idea or solution that brings value to the world.
Examples of Invention and Discovery
Examples of innovations that were invented include the following :
Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879. He was trying to make an electric light that was safe, cheap, and practical. After many experiments, he finally made a bulb that would last for over 1200 hours.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone in 1876. He was trying to send multiple messages over the same wire at the same time. His experiments led him to invent the telephone.
Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler invented the first cars that were powered by gasoline engines in the later 1800s. These early cars differed greatly from the cars we have today.
The Wright brothers invented the first powered airplane in 1903. They were trying to fly using an engine-powered machine. After years of experimentation, they finally made the first powered flight.
Examples of innovations that were discovered include:
Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. He was looking for a way to prevent the growth of bacteria. While working with a culture of bacteria, he noticed that the culture had been contaminated with mold. This mold had killed the bacteria. Fleming realized that mold could treat infections.
Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity in 1896. He was investigating the properties of uranium. He accidentally left some uranium crystals on a photographic plate. When he developed the plate, he found that the uranium had caused an image to appear. He realized that uranium was emitting a new type of radiation.
Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays in 1895. He was investigating the properties of electricity. The screen covered in barium platinocyanide glowed when he turned on the electrical current. He realized that the electricity was causing a new type of radiation to be emitted.
How Do You Become Better At Inventing and Discovering Innovation?
In order to become better at both inventing and discovering innovations, you need to develop three skills: creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
Curiosity is important for both inventors and discoverers. If you are curious about the world around you, you are more likely to notice things that others might miss. You are also more likely to have the motivation to find solutions to problems.
Advice: Be curious about the world around you and don't be afraid to ask questions.
2) Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate ideas. When you are evaluating an idea, you need to think about whether it is workable and whether it will be successful. You also need to think about the potential risks and rewards associated with the idea.
Advice: Question your assumptions by challenging and testing their validity.
Problem-solving is the ability to find solutions to problems. In order to be a successful inventor or discoverer, you need to find solutions to the problems you will face as you try to take your idea and turn it into a reality.
Advice: Be willing to keep trying, even when things are tough. If you give up easily, you will never find success.
So, Are Inventions and Discoveries That Different?
So, are inventions and discoveries really that different? What if the line between invention and discovery is less clear? What does that mean for our understanding of the uniquely human ability to innovate?
Some experts believe that the difference between invention and discovery is becoming less clear. With the help of technology, we can find new things more quickly. We can automate the search for more ideas more broadly. We can also test and develop ideas more efficiently. As a result, the process of innovation could become more efficient and less reliant on chance. Maybe.
So, what does this mean for the future of innovation?
Some experts believe we will see more incremental innovations in the future. These are innovations that build on existing technologies and ideas. Others believe we will see more radical innovations. These are innovations that completely change the way we live and work.
So, what do you think? Are inventions and discoveries really that different?
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