#2853: Vacuumotor

Today’s invention is a new way to provide a racecar with downforce in corners, but with zero increase in drag on the straights and minimal weight penalty.

The car has to slow, to some extent, on approach to a corner. It would achieve this by shutting down the normal four stroke cycle in a subset of cylinders.

Instead of ‘suck, squeeze, bang, blow’, pistons in these non-firing cylinders would periodically create intense low pressure regions when the valves are closed as the engine continues to rev.

The intake ports would then be connected via a valve/filter to the underside of the vehicle, sharply reducing pressure there, so that it is sucked down onto the road surface.

As the corner is exited, the normal four stroke process re-engages in all cylinders.

#2852: BankBarrier

Today’s invention consists of two measures to make bank vaults even more secure.

The first is to place the hinge (red) inside the vault and to pressurise the interior, as in an airliner plug door. This makes any kind of externally applied force much less powerful in terms of opening the vault.

The second is to insert thermal tiles (orange), of the type used on the space shuttle, in the interior of the door (blue).

These are capable of resisting attack by eg thermal lance and, protected by the hardened steel skin of the door, cannot easily be mechanically or thermally punctured.

Anyone who succeeds in burning a penetrative hole into the vault would cause a jet of high pressure air to escape and ignite external equipment (or robbers).

#2851: RaceRighter

Today’s invention is an addition to a conventional saloon car racing rollcage.

The two red members inside the roof would be made of larger diameter tubing and each contains an airbag charge and a length of extra tubing (green).

When a body angle detector senses that the vehicle is about to roll over, the bars are fired outwards on the falling side of the vehicle, through the windows, in order to stop it overturning.

#2848: PetalProps

Three bladed propellers on planes are more efficient but are less effective than four bladers as altitude increases.

If you want to have a prop-driven aircraft which can deal with both these competing demands, then today’s invention should help.

On the left, a twin bladed propeller is shown. On the right, it has rotated (and locked) two blades from behind the initial two, so that it now has four.

The same kind of arrangement could be made to work with 3->6 etc.

This switch between propeller numbers could be made to happen in flight.

#2844: CaressCot

It seems that babies stroked at a speed of 2.5cm per second, stop crying and calm down.

What’s so special about 2.5 centimeters a second? That’s the speed at which our primate cousins groom one another. These neurons have been around far far longer than we have. They’re waiting for that signal that says somebody else is looking out for you, that they care.

So today’s invention is a robotic cot base, suitably upholstered, but along which small vibratory ripples would be made to pass at 2.5cm per second.

This would be felt by a baby lying in any orientation and help it to sleep.

#2843: Stresshow

Today’s invention is an application of swapping reels of 3-D printing material automatically, so that the resulting print can consist of different colours.

These colours would be dictated by the Finite Element stress model of the structure in question.

Areas of predicted high stress could be coloured eg red, so that such areas would be more readily inspected for signs of wear or fatigue in use.

#2842: Dampatches

The Millennium footbridge in London gave engineers pause for thought when it was found to have a natural frequency close to that of human walking. This caused the bridge to move in response to people’s steps, which, in turn, caused people to synchronise their gaits, exacerbating the problem.

Big dampers have since been affixed at significant cost.

In order to allow architects to do their usual pushing the envelope, today’s invention aims to reduce the sensitivity of narrow bridges to the energy inputs from feet.

A version of this type of energy absorbing surface could be developed that extracted a larger fraction of energy from walking (using heavier, small-scale dampers). This would reduce the energy available for unfortunate bridge vibration (and slow walking speeds too).

Areas of the surface which made bigger contributions to bridge movement could be identified and programmed to have stiffer dampers.

#2840: ContainerConveyor

I’m discovering all sorts of stories to do with container ships shedding their loads in high seas.

I’m always amazed at the height to which these are stacked above deck.

Today’s invention is inspired by the Japanese buildings in which every floor can slide relative to its neighbours…to accommodate the shear forces of an earthquake without too much destruction.

Containers would be bolted to tracks or conveyor belts (red) mounted at different levels above the deck.

As a ship heels over, the tracks’ motors would automatically drive the containers sideways in order to ensure that the containers stay in stable layers above the deck.

#2838: Microdriers

I was reading today about tardigrades which survive long periods in a dessicated, apparently lifeless, state (tun). When exposed to water they revive.

Today’s invention is to use tardigrades in the tun state as a desiccant. They can be found in any patch of soil, apparently.

When shaken over the guts of eg electronics devices which have been accidentally made wet, they would absorb water, revive and then naturally make their way to a patch of damp moss in an adjacent petri dish.

#2835: Pushield

I’ve been watching documentaries about people trying to break the land speed record for bicycles. There is an event where they can slipstream a powered vehicle.

The airflow (blue) passes around a vertical plate (green) on a vehicle and vortices then swirl around the back of the rider.

This greatly lessens the effort required.

Today’s invention is a large back shield (red) which acts as a sail which is intermittently hit by the vortices and thus provides even greater forward thrust on the rider.

This would work best when attached firmly to the bike itself.