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Aeroplane is an Invention and not Innovation

Do you wish to invent or innovate? - it`s simple! Do not fall in love or cling on to any technology, but just focus on the final outcome.

For innovation or invention to “take off”, one must put together all the knowledge available. Innovation needs awareness of cutting edge technologies that are emerging around. This way, even a bicycle mechanic built an areoplane. With one single lapse wrong direction, all efforts can go in vain.

Let`s discuss invention of aeroplane as a case study to understand this concept.

Mr. Samuel Langley was a much better “trained” scientist than the Wright Brothers. His contemporaries expected that he will be the inventor of the aeroplane. He was secretary of what was then America’s leading scientific institution, the Smithsonian in Washington. He also had all the nation’s scientific resources at his disposal. But even though the gasoline engine had been invented by Langley’s time, he preferred to ignore it. He believed in the steamengine.

As a result, his airplane could fly; but because of the steam engine’s weight, it could not carry any load, let alone a pilot. It needed the convergence of mathematics and the gasoline engine to produce the aeroplane. He himself ruined all his efforts of inventing aeroplane by ignoring cutting edge technologies that were emerging around.

Here is where Wright Brothers surpassed Mr. Samuel Langley. First they kept their mind open. They did not fall in love or cling on to any technology (here steam engine) but the final desired outcome.

They believed sufficiently promising knowledge of the other two issues—wings and engines—already existed. Balance and control were the main issues they decided to focus on. On the basis of observation, Wilbur observed that birds turn by controlling the ends of their wings. They easily make their bodies roll right or left with it. The brothers decided this would also be a good way for a flying machine to turn—to "bank" (turn)or "lean" into the turn just like a bird—and just like a person “riding a bicycle”, an experience with which they were thoroughly familiar. Equally important, they hoped this method would enable recovery when the wind tilted the machine to one side (lateral balance). They puzzled over how to achieve the same effect with man-made wings and eventually discovered wing wrapping, when Wilbur idly twisted a long inner-tube box at the bicycle shop.

Secondly they did their homework (mathematics) correctly.

As head of the Smithsonian, Langley’s project had cost nearly $70,000, the greater part of the public money. Whereas the Wright brothers’ expenses at that point were less than $1,000, all from profits from their bicycle shop.

The Wright flyer

One has to use the technology which is emerging around or invent one which is basic the need of his main invention. Otherwise wait maybe for 500 years for somebody to invent it. The legendary Leonardo Da Vinci, my own ideal had conceptualized flying machine. But he was too much ahead of time, almost by 500 years. The mechanics was not so advanced in those days which can take on dream of a flying machine. This is not also good for success. To bring any invention in to reality, we have to judge, as, do our conceptualized invention have all the necessary technologies, subcomponents available? Or do I have to invent them too to make my invention workable. If you are good in that then only go for it. Wright Brothers did not invent gasoline engine. They used it which was designed and made for a vehicle to run on road.

The Flying screw and ornithopter by Leonado Da Vinci

The New York Times once confidently mentioned in one editorial ''To build a flying machine, it would require 'the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians from one million to ten million years”.

As it turned out, the feat was performed eight weeks after the editorial was written.

Again on Dec 10 1903 New York Times in their Editorial questioned wisdom of Wright brothers, who were trying to invent a machine heavier than air that would actually fly. Exactly one week later on Dec 17, 1903 they proved their wisdom to the world. They actually flew the “flying machine.”

Though aeroplane is an invention and not innovation the rules of game remain the same. Have confidence & faith in your ideas. Keep an eye on what is happening around, which technology is more useful to me than which technology is popular or even cheaper. There will be many to give feasibility, viability report. These reports are needed, but mind well; mostly these reports are based on past knowledge, data and experience. They cannot foresee future. And future is in the hands of we, who are dreamers & doers. Invention or innovation is SIMPLE, just be open by mind & intellect, you fill definitely find path to success.

The author Manish Patil is the founder of Simple IDEAS & Solutions LLP, which is into Innovation and Out Of Box Thinking Consultancy. The company provides solutions to plant, process and products issue through logical ability. He presented research paper on water solution for Sahara desert in Oct 2015 at an International conference in Switzerland. He holds an extensive experience of 22 years in Pharma MNC.