United Press publishers released the book Flash of Genius in early December. The book’s author, John Seabrook, is one of the best journalists of The New York Times – where the 15 essays on how discoveries and innovative breakthroughs are made were first published.
Where do insights come from? In this book, the brilliant storyteller John Seabrook has brought together stories about innovators, engineers and entrepreneurs: some have tried to create something while others sought to deal with the consequences of their own discoveries. It is not just the story of the unfortunate Bob Kearns, inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, but also Daniel Dienst, owner of the largest scrap metal company in the world. Readers will also find case studies of Brian Sykes, creator of the MatriLine method for analyzing DNA, Leslie Robertson, one of the chief structural engineers of the World Trade Center twin towers that were destroyed in a tragic attack and Roger Salquist, with his ill-fated genetically modified tomato. Chuck Hoberman was planning to make a sculpture and ended up creating a timeless toy – the Hoberman Sphere. Then there is Will Wright, who started out tinkering with a dollhouse for his daughter, and wound up inventing The Sims – one of the most popular computer games in history.
Many of the characters in this book, such as former drug addict David Karp who became a self-styled “fruit detective,” reinvented themselves. It is even possible that after reading this book, you will also experience flashes of genius.