MacLeod and Wishinsky investigate the genesis of 33 ingenious inventions.
Some of the inventions here came about as the result of an accident—the Popsicle, for example, or the microwave oven—but most were the result of seeing the possibilities once presented with a situation. That takes knowledge, as this book emphasizes, along with paying attention, making connections, taking your time, persistence, avoiding assumptions, and being open to failure. Each invention, from friction matches to folding beds, penicillin, high-dose radiation, the electronic feeding device, Teflon, corn flakes, and windshield wipers—for starters—is accompanied by photos and images of the inventor and their invention. A good half of those celebrated in these pages are women, and there is a decent sampling of different races and nationalities. Explaining the mechanics of the inventions is a variable affair. Some are obvious, like the aforementioned Popsicle, while others, such as fiber optics, don’t lend themselves to simple explanations. But no matter how abstruse the invention is, Macleod and Wishinsky make it clear why the invention was important through its everyday application. Pull quotes from such lights as Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington Carver, and Larry Page add interest, as do extra factlets introduced in sidebars; Playford’s illustrations add zip.
An engaging tour of the inspirations behind a host of marvelous inventions. (Nonfiction. 9-12)