Invent or Discover: the art of useful science

inventor cover1

Invent or Discover explores how basic science research leads to transformative inventions. The stories of synthetic insulin, hepatitis B vaccine, nylon fiber, lithium battery, fusion power, and lasers, are told. Counter intuitive forces are revealed and explained. Human talent for curiosity permits us to venture beyond knowledge into the unknown unknown, where the potential for truly new and vital inventions is found.

Each chapter is supported by extensive endnotes and references. Follow the links for free sample chapters to download. Or buy the bargain lot from Amazon Kindle!


1. Synthetic insulin

DNA helix

The race to translate discoveries on natural protein production into the first biotechnological synthesis of the hormone insulin for treating diabetes.

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2. Hepatitis vaccine

hepatitis virus

The story of the discovery of a protein in human blood derived from the virus of hepatitis , followed by the invention of the plasma vaccine using this protein. 

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3. Nylon

nylon diagram

How an industrial search for a synthetic substitute for silk led to the discovery of how to construct macromolecules with the strength and flexibility of nylon.  

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4. Lithium ion battery

 periodic table

Early development of batteries was made without full understanding of their chemistry but exploiting the power of lithium required deep understanding of the atomic structure of crystalline materials.

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5. Nuclear fusion electricity

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Studies of the structure of nucleus of atoms led to the idea of nuclear fusion with potential release of vast energy but translating the science into working fusion generators is a severe challenge. 

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6. Lasers

laser patent

How an obscure thought experiment about light stimulated competing inventors to design a machine that could produce an intensely amplified beam. 

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7. Curiosity

The strangely awkward characteristic of human curiosity is the drive that enables researchers to penetrate beyond the obvious questions to make completely unanticipated discoveries.

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