Updated: Jul 14
Imagine a beautiful rose. What a proud look, color, and fragrance. And certainly thorns sharp as a needle. But have you ever thought about what would happen if you turned the thorns of a rose inward? Let's see.
Is Air Outside the Airplane?
In the early days of aviation, aircraft design reliability was determined empirically. They created a model and launched it, but the plane crashed. The reliability question of the structure arose. Money and effort were spent on a plane, years were spent training a pilot, and then in an instant, both suddenly crashed and ceased to exist.
Francis Herbert Wenham¹, a British engineer and scientist at the origins of aviation, first thought that if an airplane can move through static air, why not make things vice versa? That is the same flight, only by reverse. Imagine that the plane has stopped, and air has moved towards it. At that time, the idea looked somewhat utopian, but Wenham gave impetus to it, and in 1871 the wind tunnel appeared. Since then, to investigate the airplane's reliability, it was not necessary to risk either the aircraft or the pilot's life. At that time, Wenham's idea was an innovative, creative solution, and a reverse problem-solving method was established.
How does it work?
If we consider the reversion method an innovation, we can apply it to finding a creative solution and getting a ready-made concept. Since a concept is an idea, we get an answer or one of the solutions to the problem we are considering.
We take a particular process and reverse it. The arrow flies to the target. We flip a process, and now the target glides to the arrow. With such an approach, the “serso” game was born. We take a parachutist falling in free flight, do a reversal, and now the parachutist no longer falls but soars in a powerful stream of air emerging from the floor a couple of meters above the ground.
Let's look at the innovations successfully turned upside down with this method.
What if a pen starts killing?
Even the spies have resorted to the reverse method. Imagine an ordinary scarifier used to pierce a finger to take a blood test. We do a reversion, and already the finger itself stumbles upon a sharp needle in the switch of the fountain pen. Human blood gets into the special ampoule inside the cell. And there, you can do a DNA test or determine the blood type, but you can kill a person this way, so be careful with fountain pens.
What if the horizon sprints to us?
Innovation by reversion can be a good health boost. Jogging in the morning is very helpful. All muscles warm up, the blood is saturated with oxygen, and the body adjusts. However, does everyone have the opportunity to run in the morning? Some of them need more opportunity and time. What shall we do? Perfect case for our reversible method to help us. We ran along the way... Stop! Let the path run, and we will stay in place. It seems elementary now. But things were different before 1952.
One day, Robert Bruce² and Wayne Quinton³ created the first treadmill. The road runs towards us, and we run in place. The treadmill takes up little space; you don’t have to go out anywhere and need little time to run. By the way, the exercise bike, orbiters, and many other simulators appeared similarly. Here is the solution for you. Here is the "reverse" for you.
What if we save our fingers?
Kitchen. Cooking. You need to cut vegetables and meat into small pieces quickly. We take a knife and cut. All the parts are different in thickness, while we are in a hurry, as a result... ah... It's easy to cut your finger. Jokes with a knife are bad. You have to be extremely careful.
How to cut food fast to get pieces that are equal in thickness and save yourself? Here comes Willy Abel⁴, who invents the slicer. Now the knife does not cut the products, but the products pass through the cutter. Slices are identical in thickness. Besides, you will never cut yourself with a knife. Here is your reversion.
What if the ceiling drops?
We need to replace the light bulb in the ceiling lamp. We take a bulky ladder and climb to the ceiling. The ladder is unstable, the lamp may burst, and performing these acrobatics is highly inconvenient and dangerous. And what if we do not approach the ceiling, but it comes to us? Don't believe it? But the solution is pretty simple. The lampshade is suspended on a stretching system. It is worth pulling, as the ceiling is in your hands. And don't risk your health. We change the light bulb calmly and safely, and - voila! It's done!
What if you pay for your work?
However, innovation by reversion can be applied not only in everyday life or technology but also in psychology, sociology, or management. Imagine a situation where a particular call causes an action opposite to its meaning, a counteraction. An example of this phenomenon is an eco-village in Spain. We know that for any work a person should receive a bonus in the form of money, goods or something else. However, when we arrive at the eco-village, we are offered to try our hand at grape harvesting. This work is provided to us as a service we have already paid for. Imagine we pay for the work that we do ourselves. Nonsense? By no means! We can enjoy it. In psychology, this phenomenon is called reverse psychology, a kind of psychological shifter.
What if animals stare at people?
We have a zoo where we go to see animals. We see animals looking at us sadly from their cages. We must never forget that animals are wild, and their behavior is far from our moral principles. And still, it is necessary to solve the problem with the defenders of animals. In addition, it is unpleasant for people to see the suffering of creatures. In general, there are enough problems.
How to solve at least some of these problems? And here, innovation by reversion comes to us as a saving aid. In one fell swoop, we solve all problems at once. How? Let's meditate together. Reversion, as such, is a shifter, a kind of "on the contrary." Remember, the target flies into the arrow; the air moves through the stationary plane. Take the example of a zoo. How does the zoo work? People come and look at the animals, and they are in their cages. But now we put people in cells, and animals will consider them. Do you think it's absurd? By no means! Such zoos already exist in Africa. Animals roam free, a wagon with a large cage passes by, and people are standing in the cell. People see animals in their usual conditions. Animals do not feel discomfort; they are at home and free, which is the main thing. And people are safe. Everyone is okay, and animal rights activists don't mind. All problems were solved in one fell swoop.
Train your creativity
We have considered examples that have been implemented, and people have been successfully using this for a long time. Now let's form our creative solution based on innovation by reversion. Ready?
So! At home, I often work with acrylic resin and paints that must be thoroughly mixed before use. In parallel with mixing, preparing molds for pouring wax is necessary. What would you suggest to speed up the process and avoid getting rejected in acrylic due to insufficient mixing? You can pause to think before reading the next paragraph.
To have time to prepare the molds and mix the resin well, I applied an innovation by reversion. Instead of blending with my hand, I placed the resin container on a circle that rotates at low speed, and from above, through a bracket attached to the frame, I lowered a narrow metal strip into the vessel to the very bottom. Now it was not the strip that mixed the resin, but the resin in the vessel that rotates on a circle integrated itself with the strip. This way, I achieved perfect mixing, saved time, and got innovation.
Conclusion or rose with inner thorns.
Innovation by reversions is a universal, multifaceted, and effective tool in conceptology. It is applicable in any field of science or technology, literature or art, psychology or management. It organically complements the list of innovations of the conceptologist to take a worthy place among them. By the way, roses with inner thorns could be a suitable annoying fly filter.
¹Francis Herbert Wenham (1824, Kensington – 1908)[ – a British marine engineer who studied the problem of human flight and wrote a perceptive and influential academic paper, which he presented to the first meeting of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London in 1866 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Herbert_Wenham).
³Wayne Everett Quinton (January 4, 1921 – January 22, 2015) was a developer of over 30 biomedical devices, including the Quinton catheter. He also invented a lightweight treadmill for cardiac stress testing - the prototype of those used in fitness centers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treadmill).
⁴ Willy Abel –( September 23, 1875 – September 22, 1951) – engineer and inventor, founder of the Harras works in Berlin-Lichtenberg (https://www.museum-lichtenberg.de/index.php/menschen/lichtenberger-persoenlichkeiten/599-abel-willy).