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Need more quotes? Extracts from books on Inventions


Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just part of how the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're 15 to 35 is new and exciting and you can probably get a career out of it. Anything invented after you're 35 is against the normal order of things.

"We live in a world exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology." (Carl Sagan)

When Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, he didn't start by trying to improve the candle. He decided he wanted better light and went from there.

Novelist Margaret Atwood is fond of saying that all new technologies have a good side, a bad side, and a “stupid side you hadn’t considered.”

Otto Lilienthal, was among the first to develop a curved airfoil and tested his gliders by jumping off hills. His groundbreaking book, Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation, inspired the Wright Brothers. On his last flight, his glider nose dived, breaking his neck. His heroic, dying words were allegedly, “Sacrifices must be made!”

"Science," said the French philosopher Valery, "is a collection of successful recipes."

Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund famously proclaims in its manifesto, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."

"The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I really want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done."

The next massive technology shift is already on its way, hurtling towards us like an unstoppable asteroid.

"If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed," Stephen Hawkings wrote. "Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution."

“The machines will become very good at being machines in the years ahead, so we need to be extremely good at being humans again.” —Liselotte Lyngsø, founding partner of Copenhagen-based consultancy Future Navigator