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Freelance consultant, learning facilitator, and writer, founder of extreme-inventing.com, ooleee.net (with artist Gary King), knowledgecafe0151. Teach technology entrepreneurship at School of Engineering at University of Liverpool, UK. I have a longstanding and avid interest in Technology as a unique human phenomenon. I'm actively engaged in research on how enterprising individuals shape material culture through inventing and innovating, with palaeoanthropologists at the Dept. of Archaeology, Egyptology and Classics, also at University of Liverpool.

METhCheMEm

The good looking fellow here is the late and great Genric Altshuller, the Russian engineer-inventor famous (in some circles at least) for devising the most comprehensive design methodology there ever was, which goes by the name of TRIZ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genrich_Altshuller). TRIZ is the Russian acronym for the theory of inventive problem solving (TIPS in English). Imagine TRIZ to be an inventor’s tool box. It contains a set of tools to invent with. One of these is the mnemonic METhCheMeM. This stands for: mechanical, electrical, thermal, chemical, magnetic and electromagnetic forces. These are the fundamental forces through which functionality or effects or achieved. So, when the sharpness of a found stone is used to cut something, then mechanical forces are being used to achieve the effect. If you use a magnet to pick up a paper clip, magnetic force is being used. If you make a sail boat you are capturing the mechanical force of the wind to push you along. In batteries, chemical forces are used to produce electrical forces through which a desirable effect is achieved. As technology has evolved since prehistory the direction of evolution has been from the predominant use of mechanical forces, to combinations of forces, but especially the electromagnetic. The latter includes all wavelengths of the eM spectrum from gamma- and x-rays to the infrared. In a sense, we are doing extreme inventing. By using x-radiation in a medical x-ray machine, we are capturing the properties of a found object (e.g., a rock containing uranium) and incorporating into a technical system that enables pictures to be taken of the inside of our bodies. All of these forces have been used from even prehistoric times. E.g., a system of copper metal extraction from ore incorporates both thermal and chemical forces. Fire is a thermal force.

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