Monday, June 23, 2008

On propellers, rivers, Albert and USPTO

Last Sunday's New York Times Business section had an inspiring article on Jay Harman, an inventor whose time has finally come. One paragraph is a good example of this enjoyable article. After informally studying vortexes for several decades, he went to his bathtub and, with a bit of cleverness, was able to create a cast from the vortex generated by water flowing down the drain. Then he used the cast to help redesign the rotating parts, or impellers, used in pumps and other devices to move fluids. Since then he has applied his approach more broadly to redesign all kinds of devices that move fluids and gases. Einstein was always fascinated by the laws of fluid movement, especially the flow of a river. On the contemporary note: when you see vortices of water flowing down the drain, you can imagine all the money wasted by this administration on fiddling with US Patent and Trademark Office.