#2441: Tapwriter

It seems that the Kremlin is thinking of returning to typewriters instead of computers. In the 1970s, the Soviets developed a special sensor which could interpret the vibrations of windows in US Govt. buildings when typewriters were in use.

They could thus read the content of any secret memos in preparation.


Although silent, non-networked machines are still used to create certain documents, I’m told, today’s invention is simply a tapper device which bumps the window with a wide variety of frequencies and amplitudes whenever a keyboard of any kind is in use in a room. It might be possible to have it tap the window according to the content of a particularly rude but non-secret message, for example.

This should effectively scramble any possible eavesdropping, for both/any sides in a future cold war.

#2440: ChopperChopper

Today’s invention is a new form of armament for military helicopters.

A belt of bullets (with no gunpowder) is fed up a tube inside the drive shaft of the main rotor (red circles).


This emerges from the end of a rotor blade.

At this point, a computer-controlled chopping device precisely times the separation of a bullet from its belt (white box), so that it flies off tangentially towards its target.

Each rotor blade can therefore act as a catapult arm, delivering enormous firepower (as long as the timing carefully avoids the tail rotor).

#2439: Unstitcher

Unstitching a garment by manually unpicking the stitches is a problem for the recycling industry. In the clothing business, such activity is done largely by sweatshop labour.

Today’s invention is an unsewing machine.


A section of stitches to be unpicked would be marked with eg an ultraviolet ink at the start and end.

This section would be inserted under the cutting head which would be fitted with a small camera.

The material would be propelled past a small blade. This would be guided, by the camera, to snip any stitches (ie threads larger in scale and/or of a different colour from the main material).

#2438: Gutterace

I’m mad keen on the engineering of speed records. Driving at enormous speed across salt or mud flats is fraught with difficulties, however.

These natural materials are flat because of the evaporation of water from their surfaces, but they still have quite a scaly, dusty texture, which makes route selection problematic and grip uneven.


Today’s invention is a permanent, uniform track enabling record attempts to be made almost anywhere with the political will to spend the money (countries at higher altitudes may also have an advantage).

First, lay a 15-mile railway track with a super-strong substrate and horizontal to a very finely controlled level of precision. The track would need a loop at either end

Then lay on top of that long sections of big-diameter open concrete gutter (say 5m in diameter). These could be standard civil engineering components but with extra careful caulking at the joints.

The effect would be to create a very smooth, open channel down which a variety of vehicles could be propelled under reproducible conditions.

#2437: ShareShine

Today’s invention is a set of shades for a tall building, which also help make better use of internal lighting at night or in dull weather.

Two, right-angle shades, with reflective inner surfaces, are shown attached to a multi-storey building.

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During the day, sunlight (orange beam) passes in between them to light the rooms, but not overheat them.

When it’s dark, light from one floor can be reflected up or down into an adjacent floor (yellow beams).

This causes a much more even distribution of illumination, so that many fewer lights need be left switched on for eg security purposes.