Discoveries and Invention: The Airplane and the Rocket Boys
(invited lecture for ALT and DS 2005)

Author: Gary L. Bradshaw

Affiliation: Department of Psychology,
Mississippi State University, Starkville, U.S.A.

Abstract. Inventions like the airplane and model rockets were based on a heuristic search process similar in kind to many scientific discoveries. Here we will review two cases of invention: the invention of the airplane from 1799 to 1909 and the invention of a model rocket by a group of teenagers in rural West Virginia in the 1950's. In each case the inventors searched a space of possible artifacts to find effective solutions. Likewise, search was avoided in both cases through the use of theory. Significantly, during the invention of the airplane, the Wright brothers made some fundamental aerodynamic discoveries. These cases reveal a deep connection between discovery and invention, and suggest parallels with AI and the invention of discovery systems.

©Copyright 2005 Author