David Frost: Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.
Have you had a brilliant idea and then realized someone had already brought it to market? And you thought, “dammit, why didn’t I think of that sooner? I’d be a millionaire right about now!”
I’m the first one to say “I’m not creative” and whine about it. I’ve probably thought of several items that someone else thought of first. Post-it Notes. Split keyboard. Left-handed scissors. Oh, I’m kidding. I was just looking around my desk.
The May 2017 AARP Bulletin profiles a 94-years-young inventor who is still creating and inventing. Most recently, he lead a team that invented a low-cost, all solid-state battery that could power the next generation of electric cars. John Goodenough was already an accomplished inventor and shows no signs of slowing down.
The common assumption is that inventors do their greatest work in their twenties. For instance, Albert Einstein discovered relativity at 26. And you can easily name the 20-somethings who recently founded the top technology companies.
However, recent research suggests that inventors don’t peak until late in their careers. A 2016 study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington found that the median age for science and technology innovators is 47. In some fields, inventors do their best work even later in their careers. Information technology pioneers peak at 51. In materials science, the typical age for a breakthrough is 53.
One of the report’s authors states: “Meaningful innovations require in-depth knowledge and substantial experience. The average innovator is seven years older than the average worker in the U.S.”
What have we learned today? You’re never too old to teach the world something new.