'In his whistle-stop tour of inventions large and small, the scientist Trevor Norton shares the Gershwins' view that invention is fundamentally comic.' The Sunday Times Trevor Norton, who has been compared to Gerard Durrell and Bill Bryson, weaves an entertaining history with a seductive mix of eureka moments, disasters and dirty tricks. Although inventors were often scientists or engineers, many were not: Samuel Morse (Morse code) was a painter, Lazlow Biro (ballpoint) was a sculptor and hypnotist, and Logie Baird (TV) sold boot polish. The inventor of the automatic telephone switchboard was an undertaker who believed the operator was diverting his calls to rival morticians so he decided to make all telephone operators redundant. Inventors are mavericks indifferent to conventional wisdom so critics were dismissive of even their best ideas: radio had 'no future,' electric light was 'an idiotic idea' and X-rays were 'a hoax.' Even so, the state of New Jersey moved to ban X-ray opera glasses. The head of the General Post Office rejected telephones as unneccesary as there were 'plenty of small boys to run messages.'
Inventomania is a magical place where eccentrics are always in season and their stories are usually unbelievable - but rest assured, nothing has been invented.
A droll history of inventors and inventions
At school Trevor's speciality was failing exams. Then he became entranced by a TV series in which Hans Hass went Diving to Adventure with his beautiful wife Lotte. From that moment he knew he had to become a marine biologist. To everyone's surprise he began to pass exams. Later on Trevor held a Personal Chair at Glasgow University and was then appointed Professor of Marine Biology at Liverpool University and director of its Marine Laboratory. He has been the president of two Learned Societies and served on the expert assessors' panel and the policy panel of the European Commission for funding major international research projects. Also a member of the annual review committee of the British Antarctic Survey, and chairman of the Aquatic Science Committee of the Natural Environment Research Council, and a Fulbright-Hayes Fellow in the United States. In addition to180 scientific articles he has also penned 30 magazine articles. Following retirement Trevor became Emeritus Professor at Liverpool University and an Honorary Senior Fellow affiliated to the Centre for Manx Studies. His efforts at literary non- fiction have been critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic, and his writing has been compared to that of Bill Bryson, Gerald Durrell and Rachel Carson. He has published widely on ecological topics. His much acclaimed books include Stars Beneath the Sea, Reflections on a Summer Sea and Under Water to Get out of the Rain. Trevor lives on the Isle of Man with his wife.