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Statistics: Principles and Methods, 7th Edition by Gouri K. Bhattacharyya, Richard A. Johnson

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CHAPTER 1–ONLINE

Example 1A

Thomas Edison and his Patent for an Electric Light Bulb

Thomas Edison patented 1093 inventions including the first phonograph and motion picture camera. Even after some initial success with creating a practical electric light bulb, Thomas Edison still required a lengthy period of experimentation to find a suitable material for the filament. How did he describe his search?

SOLUTION

We answer with a few of his most famous quotes.

“If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”[1]

“Negative results are just what I want. They're just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don't”[2]

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”[3]

“I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.”[4]

Exercises

1.1A Give another example of a major scientific breakthrough that required many experiments over many years to obtain the final result. One choice is the discovery of the structure of DNA. Write two or three sentences about key breakthroughs.

1.2A While most scientific inquiries follow a sequence of experiments some have been accidental. The chance of accidental discovery does improve with the preparedness of the observer. Alexander Fleming was studying the bacteria that cause food poisoning. Perhaps because he did not clean up his work area one day, when he next ...

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