The American businessman and inventor Thomas Edison is credited with an awful lot of quotations extolling the virtues of hard work, persistence and other desirable qualities for the budding entrepreneur. (Edison has attracted criticism from some people who felt that his entrepreneurial spirit was at times indistinguishable from piracy, but that’s another story.) This week’s quotation, which appears to be genuine, gives a more interesting perspective on the art of problem-solving, which is as relevant to maths and science as it is to engineering:
I said [to Edison]: ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’ Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.’
Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin, Edison: His Life and Inventions (1910).