#2476: Stirring Engine

I may have mentioned that patience does not come easily to me.

It’s a particular problem when dealing with people who have a loose grasp on the concept of urgency..or when I want some tea.

Today’s invention is a technology to speed up tea making (who can afford the time required by natural circulation, when active dunking would be faster?)

Here, I employ my love of thermodynamics by applying a Stirling engine in a novel and strangely satisfying way.

The (jasmine) tea bag string is applied to the engine’s crank so that the bag is oscillated through the hot water, hastening teatime.

#2469: PressupPacer

I have a problem counting whilst doing anything else. In particular, when attempting a number of press-ups, I tend to lose count (…3 is a number 😉

Today’s invention is an app which allows an exerciser to place their phone/tablet on the gym floor below their head.

As their nose touches the screen, the counter increments by one (but only if the frequency of press-ups is neither too low (resting in between) or too high (relying on momentum, rather than muscle strength).

An added bonus is that you can record amusing images of your face approaching and receding from the screen. Over time, the gasping, reddening and sweating should lessen -providing evidence of improving fitness, in theory.

#2457: Popamine

Pop music seems to have some kind of addictive element. This is important to its users as well as to its suppliers.

A similar addiction response is shown by people who get message alerts on their mobile devices. When that buzz or ping happens, they find it difficult not to check out the latest communication immediately. I’m guessing there is a small dopamine hit associated with each one.

Today’s invention is therefore an upgrade to the marketing of popular recordings.

New pop tunes would be composed using a variety of common message alert noises, arranged rhythmically to blend in with the original score almost subliminally.

A more advanced, and interactive, form of this would be to have your mobile play your personal friend-message alert in-time and in-tone with your earworm du jour.

#2456: Slimfork

If you’re naturally slim, it’s easy to underestimate how hard it can be to maintain a healthy weight. Even small sources of support can be valuable.

Today’s invention is a new form of fork that attempts to slow eating down and make it a bit more ‘mindful’.

The video is located here.

#2450: BugsLift

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.

Stephanie Joy Rosalia 5498771883_288acb20ec_z

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).

#2449: Teamagnify

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.

#2447: Transformair

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).

#2444: MagmaMould

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.

#2442: SeatShares

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.