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Invention: The Care and Feeding of Ideas

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ISBN-13: 978-0262731119
ISBN-10: 0262731118
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Introduced by science historian Steve Heims, this manuscript--written by a noted mathematician in the 1950s, with the latest revision dated June 1954--was discovered among Wiener's papers in the Institute Archives of the MIT Libraries. It was originally commissioned by Doubleday, but Wiener returned their $500 advance and subsequently turned his attention to other works. Although Invention has interesting sections, it rambles in parts and has a preachy tone in others. The first few chapters on the history of technology are interesting, primarily for the breadth of the author's understanding, but his views of research styles and his criticism of "big science" seem outdated and unduly negative. This book will appeal to a limited audience.
- Hilary D. Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, Cal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Norbert Wiener helped to build and inform our high-tech society. A mathematician with dirty hands, he moved easily between theory, invention and engineering... The manuscript of this unpublished 1954 book was found long after Wiener's death, and is only now available. It's inevitably out of date here and there, but the uncannily accurate predictions and warnings at its heart bring credibility to advice and insights that are all too relevant to our present situation." J. Baldwin, Whole Earth Review

"The mark of a great book is that it should be relevant well beyond its time, and this volume by Wiener is precisely that. In lucid, enormously readable language, Wiener provides a whistle-stop tour of the history of science and technology from the start of civilisation, charts the growth and decline of intellectual and practical excellence, and uses many examples—such as the development of paper—to show that tools and the skills to realise a design in practice must be available for inventiveness to flourish." Scientists for Global Responsibility Newsletter


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 159 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (August 22, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262731118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262731119
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Harvey M. Solomon on February 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
It has been said that all of science is concerned with ideas of patterns and all of mathametics is concerned with patterns of ideas. This book is a wonderful combination of both concepts. Norbert Wiener's towering intellect,knowledge of the history of science and ability to develop interesting associations between diverse areas of scientific activity, which on initial consideration appear unrelated, have produced a document which is grand in scope and remarkable in accomplishment. Moreover, his style of writing is, in my opinion, quite attractive. He has many axes to grind and once they are sharpened he applies them with enormous vigor. For example, he refers to the patent as "nothing more than a ticket to litigation". There is much to be learned from this book which can readily be applied to current areas of major importance such as molecular biology and solid state physics where new discoveries and their commercial applications clearly emulate societies previous experiences with our fundamental understanding of electricity and its application to both the transfer of power and of information.
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5 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John H. Hwung on February 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a book on history and social conditions of invention. It should be categorized as a history book. As such,it is a book bordering on personal speculation. It would be much better if Wiener had stick to his own scientific field and written a book on how to invent or discover.
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