Ideas from problems

Sometimes ideas come from thinking about things, or brainstorming, and then a new idea comes to us.  Another way that a new idea or invention comes about, however, is by looking at a problem, and then coming up with a fix for it.

Sometimes solutions to problems come almost accidentally.  Take, for example, penicillin.  When you are sick for a while, you may go to the doctor and they may say that you need to take penicillin to get over your sickness.  What is this penicillin, and how was it invented?  Well, it wasn’t a bunch of scientists and super computers crunching a formula and manipulating atoms and DNA strands.  Actually, it was found by accident.  Penicillin was found in mold on cantaloupe.  It was tested, and found to cure sickness!  So often inventions are a lot of trial and error.
Thomas Edison and the light bulb is another great example of trial and error.  In his own words, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  That is what he said about his many failed attempts to make a light bulb.  Just think how different the world would be if he gave up after 9,982 failed attempts at a light bulb.  We would all be left in the dark–literally.
Levi jeans are a good example of someone who saw a problem and made a fix for it.  In 1853, Levi Strauss, a 24 year old from Germany, came to the California gold rush selling dry goods.  Someone asked what he was selling.  He said he had canvas for tents and wagon covers.  “You should have brought pants!” someone told him, so he made pants with the supplies–and the rest is history.
Another invention that came from a problem was 3M’s Scotch Tape.  Cars were painted with different colors, but the tapes either stuck too tightly, or not well enough.  Richard Drew had an idea to make tape that was sticky enough, but not too sticky.  He got permission to use the 3M laboratories, and invented Scotch Tape.
Another problem solving invention is the ice cream waffle cone.  In September of 1904, at the World Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, an ice cream vendor ran out of stuff to serve the ice cream in.  A neighboring booth was selling waffles by Ernest Hamwi.  He rolled his waffles and offered a way for the vendor to continue selling his ice cream, instead of closing up early.
So, as you go throughout life, instead of being disappointed as problems arise, look for those golden opportunities.  What other problems do you know about that have become new inventions?

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