How to Hold a Building Together with Thread

photo by Håkan Dahlström

Thinking big is all the rage nowadays, but some of the most useful inventions in human history are small and simple. Examples of this are the rubber band, the paperclip and the straw.

Brutal Simplicity of ThoughtThe water screw is another brilliant result of “small” thinking and incremental improvements. Brutal Simplicity of Thought, a book that celebrates the inventions of simplicity, explains it’s origin:

The Greek polymath Archimedes is credited with the invention of the water screw. By the first century BC screws were widely used throughout the Mediterranean in wine and oil presses. They would go on to become universal in application. Standard thread would be established in every country and industry in the world – where just the right angle of thread on a screw would make for easier production and stronger fastening.

If there is a lesson we can learn from rubber bands, paperclips, straws and water screws it’s this: if you want to solve a problem or save the world, it’s best to keep it simple.

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