How Everything Works
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 1540: Good ideas are harder to come by than fancy equipment

I have a large commercial superconducting magnet and am looking for a high-value-added product or manufacturing process to pursue with it. Is there anything you have learned in your research that would be worth producing? PT
As a general observation, the bottleneck in scientific research and technological innovation is almost always the ideas, not the equipment. Occasionally, a revolutionary piece of equipment comes on the scene and makes a whole raft of developments possible overnight. But a commercial superconducting magnet isn't revolutionary; you can buy one off the shelf. As a result, all the innovations that were waiting for magnets like that to become available were mopped up long ago and any new innovations will take new ideas.

Coming up with good ideas is hard work and if I had them, I'd have gotten hold of such a magnet myself. Although science is often taught as formulas and factoids, it's really about thinking and observing, and good ideas are nearly always more important than good equipment. Good ideas don't linger unstudied for long when commercial equipment is all it takes to pursue them.

         

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