Reinventing the Square Wheel

Why build an unworkable device? Every basement tinkerer has probably built at least one device that didn’t work as expected. One can learn a lot from such failures, because they teach us the pitfalls of design, the limitations of materials, and the restrictions imposed by nature’s laws. It’s easy to superficially examine a drawing or blueprint of a device, and glibly say, “That will never work.” It’s quite another thing to reason out exactly why it doesn’t work, and one can gain even deeper insight from hands-on manipulation of the recalcitrant mechanism.


When people say, “It’ll never work,” they may sometimes be right. Most new ideas turn out to be wrong and are swept under the rug of history. ...

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