Altshuller the inventor
(Narrative of the life of Genrich Altshuller, Part 4)

Y. B. Karasik,
Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.
e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

In the former Soviet Union cars were very expensive. They cost around 10,000 rubles whereas the monthly salary of the most people was in the range of 80 to 300 rubles. Even for the high earners the cost of a car was SEVERAL yearly salaries. (In contrast, in North America cars cost much less than ONE yearly salary for most people.) But despite the high prices, the number of wishing to buy a car well exceeded the number of cars produced. That is why cars were a rationed product and people were put on waiting lists for many years before their turn would come up. It has to be said that the waiting lists were also scarce and not all people had an opportunity to get into them. Moreover, some waiting lists moved faster than the others.

Altshuller himself had no chance of getting into any waiting list. But his wife's dad was a crippled World War II veteran and the crippled veteran's waiting list was one of the fastest. Moreover, veterans did not need to pay for cars. The government gave them for free.

So, Altshuller and his wife got her dad on the waiting list and soon got a car. (Which principle is it ? Right, "intermediary".) And here the paranoia began. They started fearing that the car would be stolen. Not that car thefts were rampant in the USSR. I personally knew of no one whose car was stolen. But despite the scarcity of cars and, accordingly, rareness of car thefts there was no scarcity of movies about cars thieves. So Altshullers, as frequent movie goers, decided to take preventive actions against those who may want to steal their car. (What principle is that ? Right, "cushion in advance".)

In the best traditions of psychological inertia Altshuller decided that car thieves are akin to apartment thieves and have to have a lock pick to enter a car and steal it. So, he started thinking how to prevent thieves from getting into his car (which was parked on the street near their home).

One day he triumphantly announced to us that he found a solution. "After raking the hairs for several days," - he said, - "I told my wife: 'Why torment ourselves if we have SuField analysis ? A lock pick is one substance. We have to add another one and a field to solve the problem. Here is a solution: we insert a thin ferromagnetic strip into the lock's hole and no thieve would be able to insert his lock pick anymore. When we need to enter the car we use a magnet to fetch the ferromagnetic strip from the lock !'", - Altshuller triumphantly explained.

Since then Altshullers calmed down and their car was never stolen (as well as cars of all my acquaintances, which did not employ this canny invention).

The morale of the story: even the fighter against the psychological inertia who spent his life on devising the means of resisting it, eventually fell its prey so miserably.