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2.2.3. Energy: Inventing With Forces


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 2. Simple Science > 2.2. Science and Energy > 2.2.3. Inventing With Forces

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Inventing with forces often has to do with either trying to make things stick together or trying to separate them. Many large businesses are built on how things stick together, not only around adhesives, but also in such diverse subjects as paint and furniture. 3M, for example, uses bonding inventions for everything from sandpaper to Post-it Notes. Modern aeroplanes are largely stuck together with glue, which help make the plane much more rigid than if nuts and bolts had been used.

The bonds that can be played with include the attachment of electrons to atoms, the attraction of molecules to one another within a single substance and the interaction of different substances when brought together. Electronic, chemical, material and mechanical inventions all deal with bonding forces to different degrees.

Electromagnetic forces are involved in all the bonding, pushing and pulling that goes on between atoms and materials, whether they are solid or liquid or gaseous. The invention battleground is the electromagnetic field. Even light, which as a photon is the smallest constituent of an electromagnetic field. In fact, in quantum physics, the force of electromagnetism is created by the exchange of photons, though not at the wavelength we see.

Inventing with forces at the most fundamental level means thinking about the electromagnetic effects. We can also think about ways to apply forces at higher levels, such as with hammers or clamps. We can change the energy source, for example using electrical or chemical methods. After constant problems with compressed air for vehicle airbags, a chemical explosion was found to be simpler, cheaper and more reliable.

If we combine force with other aspects of energy, matter, space and time, we can find other ways to use the force. Applying the force over a period of time will require a greater energy reserve. Pulsing the energy as in a jack-hammer can be very powerful. The required force may be reduced if the area of effect is reduced, as with a knife blade or the tines of a fork.

To play with forces, think about the different aspects of the force, how you can change them, how you can combine them with other things. Vary the source, time, area, location, direction and more. Use springs and levers, explosions and attacks. Change push into pull and press into pulse. Just playing and experimenting can reveal useful surprises!

Fig. 2.6 Playing with forces

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