INVENTION

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INVENTION, in science, is distinguished from discovery, as implying more creative combining power, and generally signifies the application of a discovery to a certain purpose. But the distinction is often very nice, and it is difficult, in many cases, to say which word is most suitable. Every invention includes a discoyery. When Archimedes exultingly exclaimed, Efy^a (I have found it), after he had discovered, in the bath, that his body, in the fluid, displaced an amount equal to its own bulk, he discovered; but he invented when he applied the hydrostatic law, thus discovered, to determining the specific gravity of different substances. Inventions owe their origin, as discoveries do, either to chance, to some happy idea suddenly striking the mind, or to patient reflection and experiment. Many inventions belong to the two former heads. Of the third class of inventions, late years afford many instances, owing to the great attention which has been paid to the natural sciences. As man, in modern times, is always inclined to consider that which is nearest him the most important, he generally considers the inventions of his age as far surpassing those of other times; but the study of history teaches us more modesty. The invention of the screw, of the wheel, of the rudder, of the double pulley, may be compared with any modern inventions in mechanical science, and could not, moreover, have been struck out at once by chance. The history of inventions is one of the most interesting branches of historical sciences, exhibiting, in a striking light, the stages of progress and decline in human activity, and the great variety of motives which have actuated different ages. G. Ch. A. Busch has published a Manual of Inventions, 12 vols., (Eisenach, 1802 to 1822, in German). Beckmann's History of Inventions (Leipsic, 1780-1805) has been translated into English, 3 vols.