ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Peppers, Nuts and Diamonds…

Posted by Plish on September 26, 2008

When looking for solutions it is often extremely helpful to look at other technologies that are similar.  Sweet peppers, nuts and diamonds actually share something in common.  Similar techniques are used on all of them to break them apart.

Sweet Peppers: They are placed in a pressure tight container and the pressure is raised causing micro fractures near the stem and the air to infiltrate the pepper.  The pressure is suddenly dropped in the tank and the tops of the peppers explode off carrying the seeds with them! 

Nuts: They are placed in a pressure cooker, the water pressure is increased, and the pressurized water seeps through micro-cracks into the seeds.  The pressure is dropped and shells explode! Instant shell removal!

Diamonds: Imperfect diamonds are placed in an airtight vessel and the pressure increased.  Air gets into tiny imperfections, the pressure is dropped and…yup, you guessed it, the crystals break apart.

The patent for blowing apart the peppers was issued in 1968.  The nut process in 1986 in Japan.  The diamond process years after that.

Think of all the time wasted between innovations.  If someone was astute enough to see similarities to other processes, these ideas would have occurred much quicker.

The lessons? 

  • Keep your eyes and ears open – be attentive to the world around you! 
  • THINK ABSTRACTION!  Look at the fundamental concept beneath the problem.
  • Read and don’t be afraid to look outside your area of expertise.  Patents are great source of creative information. Could be that someone else may have already solved your problem. 

Also look at tools such as TRIZ.  They can be helpful at arriving at solutions through categorization of abstract physical processes.

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