What is the difference between an invention and a discovery?

An invention is something that is made by human beings and that did not exist in the world before. Inventions include items, devices, processes, materials, machines, and toys—from AstroTurf® to zippers. A discovery is something that existed before, but was not yet known or “discovered”; for example, the concept of black holes in outer space. Inventions and discoveries usually come about by bringing together existing technologies in a new way, and they may take centuries to take shape. They usually are created in response to a specific human need, such as a medicine to heal sickness; as a result of the creator’s desire to complete a task more efficiently or effectively, such as a tool or machine; or even by accident, such as the Slinky. Sometimes just one person makes the discovery or invention; other times the end result is the product of a team effort. Sometimes different people have made the same invention independently at the same time. In very rare cases different people have made the same invention on the same day.


This is a web preview of the "Handy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App