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Observation : Great inventions come from those who notice what they see.

From ‘Self-Help, with illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance’ by Samuel Smiles (1812-1904).

Scottish motivational writer Samuel Smiles held that most of the great discoveries come not from a policy of deliberate ‘invention’ but from instinctively noticing things that other people merely see.

IT is the close observation of little things which is the secret of success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in life.

“Sir,” said Johnson, on one occasion, to a fine gentleman just returned from Italy, “some men will learn more in the Hampstead stage than others in the tour of Europe.”*

It is the mind that sees as well as the eye.

One of the vergers in the cathedral at Pisa, after replenishing with oil a lamp which hung from the roof, left it swinging to and fro; and Galileo, then a youth of only eighteen, noting it attentively, conceived the idea of applying it to the measurement of time.**

Fifty years of study and labour, however, elapsed, before he completed the invention of his Pendulum, — the importance of which, in the measurement of time and in astronomical calculations, can scarcely be overrated.

* Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), essayist, scholar and (with his friend and biographer James Boswell) travel writer, who compiled a unique, influential and occasionally witty English dictionary.

** Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), a brilliant Italian scientist who made major contributions in, among others, astronomy, mathemetics and engineering.

From ‘Self-Help, with illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance’ by Samuel Smiles (1812-1904).

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Picture: © JoJan, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0. View original
The interior of the cathedral in Pisa, Galileo’s birthplace. The chandelier on the left is the very same which inspired Galileo to derive the law of the isochrony of the pendulum.
By Samuel Smiles

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