Before the 1980s fighting forest fires with helicopters was a hassle.
The huge rigid containers hanging down from the hooks slowed down helicopters on their way to the site. The complicated trap doors of these buckets often stopped working. Water sprayed rather than dropped from them, making putting out fire more difficult.
The revolutionary ‘A-ha!’ moment
Luckily, one day, the inventor Don Arney had an insight that changed the game.
Working on another project, Arney was testing the strength of underwater airbags by filling them with water and hanging them upside down on a crane.
Amazed by how much weight the lightweight collapsible bags could contain got him wondered: “What would I have to do to that to make it into a firefighting bucket?”
From that ‘A-ha!’ moment, the Bambi Bucket was born.
Released in 1982, the Bambi Bucket is lightweight and fully collapsible, so it fits within the helicopter for transportation. Its fool-proof bottom valve requires very little power to work, and hooking it up by a standard power plug is a breeze. It also shoots water down in a solid column, making it more effective in containing the fire.
Today Arney’s genius product saves lives, homes and forests around the world, servicing 90% of the global market. Besides being used in 110 countries to fight wildfires, Bambi Bucket was also used to cool down the Fukushima nuclear site in Japan after the 2011 tsunami.
Where do ground-breaking ideas come from?
When Bambi Bucket earned Don Arney induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, he decided at the last moment to ditch his prepared speech.
Instead, he spoke spontaneously, crediting and honoring his long-time business partner, Mark McCooey, and the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
“I can remember sitting in the university library wondering if facts are all there is. So that became a very strong pursuit for me,” Arney recalled.
“The game changer came in 1970. That was the year I learned to meditate. I learned a specific type of meditation. It’s called Transcendental Meditation. And I’ve been doing it for 47 years now, twice a day, every day.”
He went on in his speech to describe precisely how meditation makes him a better inventor:
“What I’ve found is that it completely changes the creative process because of the way you go about mining for those nuggets of information, the kernels of innovation. You don’t do it yourself. Those things are like gifts that come to you.
And you just have to let nature do that because that just comes and shows up in your life and you just have to be grateful for it.”
“Clearing the mind is an essential part of the inventing process”
In the introductory video played at the ceremony, Arney explained further how Transcendental Meditation works to his advantage:
“I have found that meditating is a completely non-directed process, and inventing has to be the same. You know all the things you’re going to be doing as you engage, but you don’t direct it.
What you find is that the answers come, and organize, on a very profound level, to bubble up, and quickly and innocently the solution appears.”
Einstein has said that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Arney agrees that to come up with something truly creative, surface-level thoughts are not enough.
“Clearing the mind is an essential part of the inventing process because you want to access the deeper levels of the mind. To mine the mind.
The cosmic computer is working on the solutions and you don’t need to know necessarily that this is happening because it’s basically an unconscious level of the mind.”
Educating for creativity
In the midst of fellow scientists, Arney also pointed to the research on TM and advocated its use in education:
“There are now over 600 studies that have been conducted in 250 different universities and research centers in 34 different countries. And it’s remarkable how it transforms people.
This whole evening is about innovation and I think that what we have to do is to look at it from an educational perspective: How do we actually enhance the creative process?
We can do that now. It’s out there and mainstream and we just have to pursue it.”
The Uncarved Blog
Inventor Don Arney’s home page