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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Impossible Inventions: Ideas That Shouldn't Work
by Malgorzata Mycielska
Age Range: 9-11
Impossible Inventions is a wacky and fascinating collection of ideas, patents, and plans that include descriptions of thirty historical inventions, both ancient and modern from across the globe. “ There’s no rule about who can or can’t be an inventor. It takes imagination, commitment and courage to push the limits of possibility. You never know when an idea will grow into something amazing and incredibly useful.”
The first chapter sets the scene explaining why we invent as well as stressing the importance of Leonardo da Vinci and his very many inventions over five hundred years ago. There are a mind-boggling mix of inventions in this 122 book and they don’t only contain those which have been shown to work. Each invention is accompanied by a labelled illustrated diagram often followed on the proceeding page by a broader scene featuring humorous comments or critical observations.
From the first century where Heron of Alexandria, a Greek a mathematician, physicist and engineer invented automatic temple doors to Greek inventor Ctesibius who invented the water clock with his version of the clepsydra or ‘water thief’ in the third century. The ‘Passenger Dragon’ was invented by Italian architect Tito Livio Burranttini in Poland in the 17th century and the Robotic Chess Master or ‘Mechanical Turk’ was invested by Hungarian philosopher and engineer Wolfgang von Kempelen in the 18th century.
The ‘Bubble Messenger’ – a machine where someone expecting a message would peer into the bubbling cistern and write down the symbols that appeared – was invented by Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring, a German physicist and doctor in the 19th century and Serbian-American Nikola Tesla invented the Wireless Power Generator in the 20th century. More recently in 2011, the ‘Eco Exerciser’ was invented by Lebanese inventor Nadim Inaty and in 2013 the ‘Space Base’, a 3D space printer was worked on by London-based architecture firm Foster and Partners with the European Space Agency. These are just some of the many inventions contained in this fascinating book.
Impossible Inventions: Ideas that Shouldn’t Work is a celebration of human ingenuity and creativity by Małgorzata Mycielska, translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud. It’s clever, it’s funny and demonstrates how the human imagination is limitless. Polish duo Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski are non-fiction illustrators’ par-excellence with a whole host of books to their name including the bestselling book MAPS. Their comic-strip style with its use of strong black lines and block colour is packed full of detail and quirky humour. There’s a lot going on in this book and it’s definitely one to keep dipping into.
Other titles illustrated by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski on the OIW website are: HOUSE (2010); DESIGN (2011); MAPS (2013); Welcome to Mamoko (2013); MAPS Activity Book (2014); Welcome to Mamoko in the Time of Dragons (2014); The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000 (2014) and MAPS Poster Book (2015)