TAMPA BAY, Florida (PTC Media and Analyst Event) June 5, 2007 - Dean Kamen, best known as the inventor of the Segway scooter, was the keynote speaker for the PTC/User conference. Kamen did actually use Pro/E to design the Segway and continues to use it for his work at his company, DEKA (http://www.dekaresearch.com/), something he neglected to mention when he spoke at Autodesk University years ago where I saw him last.
Dean is quite popular with the crowd. He talks of his (admittedly few) successes and his (many) failures. He scatters bon mots and inspirational quotes and quips along with his token irreverence for management (example "the stone age did not end because they ran out of stone"). He has been doing this for some time and cyberspace is now full of recordings of his talks. My favorite story, however, is his story of the south pointing chariot.
Though no original south pointing chariots exist today, models of it abound, such as this one on www.karauri.info.
This very complex machine was created by the ancient Chinese to help guide their armies on long treks. No matter what direction was taken, the figure always pointed in the same direction.
The irony (pun intended...wait for it) of this engine is that the Chinese already had the technology for a simpler solution. For centuries they had known that lodestone (magnetic mineral with iron) in water always drifted to the same direction, a property used by others to make a magenetic compass.
This makes the south pointing chariot less an example of innovation and more an example of a defense contractor (big laugh here).
See more about the south pointing chariot at wikipedia.