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Useful And Fantastic: People They Laughed At -2

...Marathon runners and Everest climbers have it easy compared with the heroes who developed the blessings of tinned food and zip-fasteners...

Here is the second episode of Val Yule's book which encourages us to appreciate people who come up with new ideas, no matter how fantastic those ideas may seem at first glance.

Marathon runners and Everest climbers have it easy compared with the heroes who developed the blessings of tinned food and zip-fasteners.

Did you know that most of what you see and use everyday has been invented by somebody, or a series of somebodies. List ten things around you. Who invented them? Who invented roads, refrigerators, sewerage, computers, and safety pins?

Most of the ways we live have been invented by somebody or a series of somebodies. Who invented cars, schools, swimming pools, hospitals, holidays, football finals?

There is a saying that genius needs a hard wall to kick against and make its sparks fly. On the other hand, when the poet Thomas Grey was sitting in a country-church yard, he turned to thinking about all the people who lay in it who never had a chance. Sometimes creators need a hard wall, but sometimes the walls have been just too hard and high.

On the other hand, there have been places and times where groups of people have stimulated each other in places where their types of greatness have had a chance - Athens 5th century BC, Florence in the Renaissance period, Edinburgh in the 18th century, London over several hundreds of years.

The small population of Australia has had a remarkable number of people who have been inventors and innovators and who have set up new types of public institutions for human welfare. People like: John Flynn and the Flying Doctors, King O’Malley and the Commonwealth Bank and Mary McKillop co-founder of the Order of St Joseph and the Sacred Heart. Possibly, in a pioneer country there is more chance of pioneering minds and hands.

Today though, we are starting to see that creative new ideas are the most important thing we have. And in this series of articles you can see how so many brilliant thinkers and inventors have survived the laughter of others to create something very useful for the whole human race.

Some people who have been laughed at turn out to be great inventors, discoverers, thinkers and heroes that we honour today. These brief biographies include where possible a mention of childhoods, which show how many innovators, inventors and reformers overcame early handicaps, and how anybody from anywhere might have a chance to be an inventor or innovator – and stand being laughed at.

Some people laughed at today may turn out to be great. Some will be silly. How can you tell? We hope that after reading you will be able to spot a terrific idea when you see one, and not be so quick to laugh, because sometimes the joke may be on you.

People They Laughed At chronicles just a few of the thousands of inventions and discoveries that faced ridicule, objections and neglect. You can find out more about those that interest you and about other inventions and ideas, and the struggles of the inventors and discoverers to get them a fair hearing. These men and women were tough and the people who backed them at first had to be tough too.

People may say to you, ‘No, it can’t be done.’

It probably can.



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