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Which inventor said it? Find out by taking the quiz     Send a link to a friend

By Paul Niemann         

"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." -- Thomas Edison


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[AUG. 19, 2004]  It's time once again for another invention quiz. This one deals with invention-related quotes. If you've been reading this column faithfully each week, then you'll be able to recall some of the answers from earlier columns.

A few non-inventors even found their way into our quiz with their quotes. As is the case with all of our quizzes, the answers are at the end of the column, and each answer is used only once. Get at least 13 out of 15 correct and you win… you win nothing, other than knowing that you gave it your all. Now that you're sufficiently motivated, let's begin.

Choose from the following answers…

  • Alexander Graham Bell

  • Agatha Christie

  • Patent commissioner Charles Duell in 1899

  • Thomas Edison

  • Albert Einstein

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Roman engineer Julius Sextus Frontinus in 10 A.D.

  • Rutherford B. Hayes

  • Lord Kelvin

  • Charles Kettering

  • Abraham Lincoln<

  • Samuel Morse

  • Isaac Newton

  • Mark Twain

  • Wilbur Wright

1. We'll start off with an easy one: "What hath God wrought?" Actually, he didn't say it, but he did transmit it over the telegraph that he invented.

2. "Watson, come here. I need you." If you get this one wrong, then you're in the wrong section. Try the comics.

3. The only American inventor to receive 1,000 patents said this: "Of all my inventions, I liked the phonograph best. Life's most soothing things are sweet music and a child's good night."

4. This is an easy one to get "wright": "I confess that in 1901 I said … that man would not fly for 50 years."

5. Originally known as Sam, this Midwestern inventor was better known for his writings than his inventions. He showed his high appreciation for inventors when he said, "Inventors are the creators of the world -- after God."


[to top of second column in this article]

6. This 19th-century writer is credited with saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." (What he really said was, "Invention breeds invention.")

7. This 19th-century president said this about Alexander Graham Bell's telephone: "That's an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?"

8. In 1895, the inventor of the Kelvin scale said, "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Get this one wrong and you have to start over. Bonus points if you know what the Kelvin scale is. (It's the absolute temperature scale, which measures the lowest possible temperature in the universe at a negative 273 degrees Celsius.)

9. "Everything that can be invented has already been invented." There's a bit of irony in this one, given the man's job title.

10. As the only U.S. president to receive a patent, he said that the patent system "added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things."

11. "People think of the inventor as a screwball, but no one ever asks the inventor what he thinks of other people."

12. This inventor further proved that all things are relative when he said, "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong."

13. "I don't think necessity is the mother of invention," she said, possibly when riding the Orient Express.

14. He didn't invent the apple, but he did discover gravity. He also said, "If I have seen farther than most men, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

15. When in Rome, do as the Romans do: "Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments."


1. Samuel Morse; 2. Alexander Graham Bell; 3. Thomas Edison; 4. Wilbur Wright; 5. Mark Twain; 6. Ralph Waldo Emerson; 7. Rutherford B. Hayes; 8. Lord Kelvin; 9. Patent commissioner Charles Duell; 10. Abraham Lincoln; 11. Charles Kettering; 12. Albert Einstein; 13. Agatha Christie; 14. Isaac Newton; 15. Roman engineer Julius Sextus Frontinus

[Paul Niemann]

Invention Mysteries is written each week by Paul Niemann. There's another fun invention quiz at www.InventionMysteries.com.

© Copyright Paul Niemann 2004

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