Anthorn Senior Member Joined: 5 Sep 2011 Posts: 21 Location: Luton, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Fri Sep 13, 2013, 2:21pm Subject: Re: Esoteric Discussion - Theory and Invention
With respect, your definition of an invention is too narrow and confined to what me may call a legal invention, i.e. that which can be patented and whether that is actually applied as an invention differs in different parts of the world.
An invention can also exist only on paper in which case it's a theory because it doesn't exist in fact and therefore cannot be tested but it's still an invention.
We should also distinguish between an invention and an innovation: Whereas invention refers to the creation of an original idea or method, innovation refers to something which is better but which may nevertheless draw on certain aspects of the original invention. The Aeropress for example is therefore not an invention because it draws on the original method of making coffee but does it in a new way with a new method. Therefore it's an innovation. Similarly Espresso machines draw on the original method of making coffee under pressure but does it in a new way with different equipment. So that too is an innovation and not an invention.
To be fair, I wrote of inventing an idea not inventing a theory, although a theory is an idea. In either case I didn't refer to an invention.
I've recently been reading The Particle at the End of the Universe, a book about the Higgs boson, authored by theoretical physicist Sean Carroll. The Higgs, the existence of which was first theorized in the 1960s by Peter Higgs and five other guys, has been in the news lately because of the recent experimental evidence for it. Because of this thread on CG I was amused to see the following lines in the book (my emphasis added):
"For that matter, inventing the theory that predicted the Higgs in the first place is undoubtedly prize-worthy."
"I have no particular preference concerning who, if anyone, should win the Nobel Prize for inventing the idea of the Higgs boson, nor do I have a prediction."
Perhaps I misued the word invent in this context, but if so I believe I was in good company.
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