Who would have thought that insects could affect the economics of air travel. I’m still not really convinced by this article.
It did, however, inspire today’s invention.
Imagine coating a light aircraft in a form of lightweight, spray-on glue.
If you then fly through dense clouds of insects, a proportion of them will end up trapped by the adhesive but in an orientation which still allows them to flap their wings.
Let’s assume that insects have a mass of 0.1g and can exert a maximum upwards force equal to twice their bodyweight.
This means that a 5000kg aircraft would need about 26 million such insects to provide enough lift to allow it to hover.
Even if that is unattainable outside a locust swarm, insects could still provide a substantial proportion of the lift required to sustain an aircraft in flight, thus increasing fuel economy (albeit in a stupidly cruel way).
If you appear in some team photo or other multi-person image, today’s invention allows you to differentiate yourself (and perhaps some friends) from all those other people whose names you may never have known anyway.
It consists of a small, self adhesive plastic lens which you can stick to the glass of a photo frame -over your own, minute facial image.
This allows you to become much more recognisable and thus prove that you were actually on that 2nd XI team in 1984; right next to old whatshisname.
If we can have flying machines like the Osprey whose rotors turn into propellers, then today’s invention is another form of slightly unlikely aircraft.
Imagine a large, twin rotor helicopter, powered by two gas turbines and capable of vertical takeoff.
At altitude, the rotor blades on each axle slide around and link together -forming two sets of fixed, conventional wings (grey).
After a few seconds of steep glide, the jet turbine exhaust(yellow) is directed backwards to provide propulsion (and, via the new wings, lift).
In many places volcanoes exude a flow of liquid rock almost continously.
Today’s invention offers a way for local communities to exploit this, by offering mementos to visiting pyrophiles.
A mould could be created (by local craftsmen) and attached to a tractor using a long spar made of high melting point steel.
As the tractor drives the mould into the magma, the trapped gas escapes through a vent in the top.
The tractor withdraws and the rock within the mould gradually cools, allowing stone sculptures to be extracted for later sale.
I’ve been spending too much time lately, poring over the minutiae provided on seatguru.com. It almost seems as if they will soon be rating each actual seat: “Seat 29B has an unfortunate stain on the armrest and a non-functioning earphone jack”. I guess with mobile communications, that is currently possible.
Anyway, today’s invention is a new concept in commercial flight.
It’s normally assumed that when you buy a seat, you will stay located there for all of your journey.
Instead, imagine that you are travelling on a long-haul flight and want to pay extra for a wide seat and some comparatively decent grub…but for only part of your trip.
Halfway through a long flight, a light would turn on over your seat telling you to swap with the person in 22C, who has also bought a cattle+/business- ticket.
(People might have to pay more for a business class seat during the latter half of a flight than the first part).
This system could also work for swaps within a given class…offering hope if you start off sitting beside someone who is too large/sweaty/chatty…or whatever. Seat swaps would have to occur staggered over a few minutes to avoid a chaotic game of musical chairs.
Maybe there is even some scope for a passengerguru.com -which allows people to rate their neighbours.
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).
Today’s invention is shoes -with sound effects.
The shoes would have ultra-soft, crepe soles, but they would also contain a pair of speakers wired to an mp3 player.
The wearer could choose a sound effect (using a wireless controller) and then, as each foot touches the ground, the chosen sound plays -as a footstep.
Aside from potential pythonesque humour (coconut shells) this could enable a user to appear more assertive by playing a loud, crunching step.
The footsteps’ volume could also be turned up by way of announcing someone’s arrival or warning pedestrians that the shoe wearer was running down a busy street behind them.
I read a story today about a plan to create planet lander craft in the form of kites.
Today’s invention takes this a step further.
Imagine dropping large numbers of flat-sheet kites over any planet with an atmosphere.
These would glide down -each landing very gently.
The kites would each have a small electric vehicle attached to one corner, allowing them to move across the ground and self-assemble at one location.
Each kite would act as a single layer in a 3D printed electromechanical machine -potentially of great size and complexity.
This would then drive off and perform some mission, without ever having been shaken up on impact with the ground.
If a dirty nuclear bomb is planted in a city, even if it can be found, it could be very hard to defuse.
Today’s invention is a way to move any such device to safety with maximum speed.
The bomb would be placed (perhaps by a mobile robot) in a spring-mounted box atop a tunnelling machine with its axis vertical. This would also contain a small, remotely controlled explosive device.
The drill would be fired up, creating a path, perhaps through many floors within a building, towards the ground.
A cable attached to the box would allow the whole system not to crash downwards at any time.
Eventually, when ground level was reached, the drill would rapidly create a vertical shaft around the bomb in the box, channelling the spoils behind as backfill (and perhaps also pumping in concrete, if the situation allowed this).
With a deep enough shaft, the added, trigger explosive could be detonated, allowing any radiation from the nuclear blast to be absorbed by the surrounding earth.
It can be annoying when a tennis player decides to grunt every time they hit the ball.
My working theory is that this tendency is about more than attempting to sound dominant to one’s opponent.
I think that it’s at least partly an unconscious ploy to disguise the noise made by the ball’s contact with the strings of a racquet.
There is a lot of information contained in that signal about the impact location on the strings and about whether the ball is now backspinning or not.
Given that no-one hits the ball anywhere near the speed of sound in air, this information may reach an opponent in time to allow their body to prepare very slightly for its arrival.
Today’s invention is therefore a device attached to a tennis racquet which makes a bumping noise, loud enough to drown out the most ardent grunting, and yet stays the same, irrespective of any details of the ball’s behaviour.
This would have the effect of making it much harder for players to anticipate where the next shot was going and thus lessen the need to disguise the impacts by disturbingly loud utterances.