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2.2.1. Energy: Inventing With Energy


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 2. Simple Science > 2.2. Science and Energy > 2.2.1. Inventing With Energy

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To invent with energy, you can start by taking the energy situation in your problem and breaking it down to find the attributes. Fig. 2.3 does some of this breaking down for different forms of energy. Let us consider some of the aspects of this diagram (which deliberately decomposes in different ways):

  • The long list from ‘light’ shows some attributes of light, which can be changed. For example if increasing light in a room, you could increase reflection with more metallic surfaces.
  • The long breakdown chain from ‘electromagnetic’ leads to specific elements that can be changed, for example sunglasses could work by using an optical bandpass filter to select only specific frequencies.
  • Stored energy is linked to force. Although they are not strictly identical, imagine holding a spring squeezed in. The energy stored is felt as a force. Where you need a force, think about how you can input some energy and then hold it in place.
  • Energy can be combined with other elements of simple science: the use of energy over time is work (so you can change work by changing energy or time).

Fig. 2.3 Energy breakdown

There are many ways we can play with energy by taking any of the attributes, storage methods or decomposed detail and changing them in some way. We can change energy from one form to another, or perhaps we can prevent the energy from converting or escaping. In any situation, ask questions such as, ‘Where is the energy? What is it doing? Where is it going? When is it going there? How can I change these?’ Look at Figure 2.4 and see if you can play with the energy created in these devices to improve them or invent something different or unusual.

Exercises like this, by the way, are not trivial: they stimulate the mind, giving it practice for the real inventions you have. They can even occasionally lead to new and profitable inventions! Do not worry about making your ideas useful at first. Many great inventions were not useful in their initial incarnation.

Fig. 2.4 Playing with energy

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