The US Patent and Trademark Office celebrated its 200 birthday in October with a gathering of 37 US inventors who spoke on the process of invention.
Among the most interesting comments:
- Richard M. Russell of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who helped moderate the discussion, said 52% of the nation's growth since World War II had come through invention.
- Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple computer, said he read about inventors as a child and wanted to become one. "It all starts with our kids. They have to believe they can do this, and that it is not just something done at big companies. Kids nowadays hear more of companies inventing things, not individuals."
- Dr. James E. West, a Bell Laboratories fellow at Lucent Technologies who was an inventor of the technology used in 90% of today's microphones, said "inventing is an art. Our tools are not brushes, canvases and paints. Our tools are mathematics and physics, and we have to teach children how to use them."
- Patsy O. Sherman, who discovered and developed Scotchgard© while working at 3M, said "you can encourage and teach young people to observe, to ask questions when unexpected things happen. You can teach yourself not to ignore the unanticipated. Just think of all the great inventions that have come through serendipity, such as Fleming's discovery of penicillin, and just noticing something no one conceived of before."