I am struck, three years after starting this column, by how different the responses are today than they may have been if a global pandemic had not dawned on our world. I invite you to enjoy learning what our colleagues dream of as being useful inventions in today’s world.
In this column, adopted from the familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we offer our responders a chance to answer the question posed in the title. These are their replies reported verbatim.
I think I would like to invent a ‘peace’ laser gun/wand. It could be pointed at anyone, anywhere and be able to turn any conflict into a peaceful situation — no more violence, just rational, calm solutions to anger. Of course, it would exclude the parent-child conflict of being sent to their room for bad behavior. LOL.
As a Star Wars fan, I would love to invent a real-life lightsaber. Believe it or not, someone has built a prototype lightsaber powered by propane! Check out a YouTube video by Hacksmith Industries. It’s not quite a true lightsaber, but it’s close!
To invent some kind of shield that protects you from any kind of harm (OK, a little far in the imagination). Think about it: having a shield of some kind that would protect you from everyday safety hazards, such as when your wrench slips on that fitting you are trying to tighten. You know what I mean — the wrench slips and then cuts you or whatever. Or protection from slipping on the ice in the winter; then you do not have to deal with the pain for the next several weeks. This invention would be designed to protect — not prevent — as we all try to prevent for the most part. Do you think insurance rates would go down? I doubt it.
Richard Strycharz Jr.
I would invent a mode of teleportation. It would eliminate the stress of allotting time to travel and trying to find a new location. Also, it would allow one to go to many more places and accomplish more things in a day! Works well for a person like me who loves to pack everything into a day! I’m also not a very patient person when it comes to traveling, so this would be perfect for me.
Emerson Fisher LP Gas
I would invent a transporter — just like the one in Star Trek.
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
I would invent a Magic Stick so that when pointed at a person, they would be cured of all physical and mental illnesses. Then, when the stick was waved across the world, the earth would be preserved and sustainable to all forms of life!
Buffalo, New York
This one has me thinking of so many options. As much as I would like a teleporter for my own life efficiency, if I could invent anything, I think I would rather it benefit the maximum number of people. I’m thinking of a medical decoder. It would be a machine that you could put medical data into, or disease samples, and it would populate a diagnosis and treatment plan, including cures that do not exist currently.
Battling weight issues can be frustrating and challenging for many people. So, I think it would be an unrealistic invention — but one people would like — if you could take a magical weight loss pill at bedtime and wake up the next morning slim, trim and healthy without having to do anything! I think there are a lot of people who would take advantage of this invention.
McMahan’s Bottle Gas
Teleportation device! I would love the ability to be anywhere, anytime.
Asheville, North Carolina
If I could invent something, it would likely be a common sense button. Simple conversations have become so complicated. Clear and concise communication without the political buzzwords would help get things done faster in the business world. Too often, people question the intent or logic for certain directives. Just an observation from a long career. Most people are good, and we need to believe that.
Top Line Management LLC
Parents of Invention
In his famous dialogue “Republic,” Plato wrote that “our need will be the real creator,” a phrase that has been formed over time into the familiar English proverb: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Galileo Galilei had his corollary to that notion: “Doubt is the father of invention.” As several of the invention ideas from our responders suggest, there could be a more basic human driver.
Agatha Christie put it this way: “I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.” Inventions ranging from writing to the printing press, radio and airplane can be ranked for their impact on our evolution.
I recently watched a video featuring the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, Ernö Rubik. He asserts that questions are far more important than answers when it comes to inspiring minds to be creative. He realizes we don’t know what future inventions will be, but we know who will invent them: our youth.
The inventors of our future will need “a good imagination and a pile of junk,” according to Thomas Edison, who also said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” From my viewpoint, not all of the above inventions would be favorable, but I’d like to have some handy right now!