In his whistle-stop tour of inventions large and small, the scientist Trevor Norton shares the Gershwins' view that invention is fundamentally comic... Some of the most amusing bits of Norton's book - whose short chapters encourage you to dip in at random rather than read sequentially - concern those inventions that didn't quite make the grade... Another source of comedy in Norton's history of invention is our changing sense of what matters.
In Norton's breezy telling of man's progress, it is not necessity that is the mother of invention, but other inventors.
A new book tells the remarkable stories behind our everyday lives.
He tells these tales of super-human determination with a sharp twinkle in his eye and an unerring instinct for the absurd.
Norton humanises honest science and sincere endeavour with humour and respect.
Most such histories concentrate either on the Eureka moments or try to convey the mix of inspiration and perspiration that leads to great discoveries. Norton's hugely entertaining romp does both of those, with a large dose of butterscotch ripple provided by the less talented rivals to Archimedes and Edison... For thanks to diligent research Norton has traced the hilarious failures that came before the Eureka moments. Crackpot ideas and great inventions have rarely been combined before to give such a complete and utter picture of the process of inventiveness at its least and most successful... all these and many other necessary failures are lovingly documented by Norton in his all-too-true story of invention.
Norton tells engaging stories in a very readable manner.