Thursday, July 17, 2008
mysteries of invention
Mr Caldwell advances a theory in an article, "In the Air" published in the June 30 issue of the New Yorker magazine.It is about scientific and technological discoveries which are associated with one famous person in public mind, but in reality other scientists too had hit upon them at the same time. it makes evident that scientific discoveries are not the exclusive products of a single brilliant person's fertile mind, but are `in the air' all the time and within the reach of anyone who has the alertness to `snatch' them.For instance, as Mr Caldwell points out, Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution.Three mathematicians "invented" decimal fractions. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley and Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Color photography was invented at the same time by Charles Cros and by Louis Ducos du Hauron, in France.Logarithms were invented by John Napier and Henry Briggs in Britain, and by Joost Brgi in Switzerland.There were four independent discoveries of sunspots, all in 1611; by Galileo in Italy, Scheiner in Germany, Fabricius in Holland and Harriott in England .The law of conservation of energy, so significant in science and philosophy, was formulated four times independently in 1847, by Joule, Thomson, Colding and Helmholz. They had been anticipated by Robert Mayer in 1842.There seem to have been at least six different inventors of the thermometer and no less than nine claimants of the invention of the telescope.Typewriting machines were invented simultaneously in England and in America by several individuals in these countries. The steamboat is claimed as the "exclusive" discovery of Fulton, Jouffroy, Rumsey, Stevens and Symmington.There are 148 such major scientific discoveries for which credit can be claimed by more than one person, but is actually given to only one! NEW YORKER..