I’ve been reading a lot lately about how supertankers and massive container ships may take two miles to slow to an emergency halt (even with the engines full astern).
Today’s invention offers a way for ships to stop much more rapidly (if they are travelling in a canal).
On the left, we see a ship in cross section moving down a canal at say 10 m per sec. This vessel has strong beams built in which are wider than the canal.
When an emergency stop is required, the beams are allowed to make contact with reinforced ramps on either bank. The kinetic energy of the ship is exchanged completely for potential energy, as the ship is lifted higher in the water (right hand image).
A simple energy-based calculation shows that a ship which engages with ramps angled at 10 degrees to the horizontal will be brought to a stop in about 12m (with no reverse thrust or anchors).
Today’s invention is a bolt-on feature for YouTube comments (although this still looks like a great option to me).
When you start typing your witty, well informed remark, an automatic search is performed of the comments section for the three comments which best match what you are writing.
If your pearl of wisdom has essentially already been typed by someone else, then at least you are aware of that before persisting in sharing it with the waiting Interwebs. With any luck, this will limit the number of duplicated comments.
In a more draconian mood, I’d be inclined to use this search/comparison tool to simply delete any comments which were found to have been substantially repetition.
When taking down one’s tent, it’s a pain not to be able to pull the poles out (because they separate and get lost or jammed in the fabric).
Today’s invention is to provide each section of tent pole with a very simple lock and key (outlined in green).
The lock would be made by just sawing halfway through the metal end of a pole junction and breaking one end of the material out (left end). This key would need an L-shaped slot cut in the corresponding end of the next section (right end), so that it was always kept away from protruding through any fabric.
This simple bayonet-fit would allow the poles to be joined before putting the tent up and then happily pulled out of the fabric retainers when taking the tent down.
I understand that separating certain chemicals, at the molecular level (eg lipids) is very difficult.
One way is to use normal chromatography, but to do this in a centrifuge: but this is very expensive equipment.
Today’s invention is to attach something like a chromatography column to the end of a carbon fibre whip.
As the whip is cracked, its far end undergoes a massive acceleration, thus forcing different molecules to respond differently and separate out.
It might be possible to make this happen in sections of a hose, so that this performs a continuous separation process.
In the future when autonomous vehicle dominate, road transport will need to be smarter.
Road trains, which may need to be very long compared to current trucks, will still have to use the winding country roads which are most common.
So imagine today’s invention – a series of carriages, linked by A-frame connectors. These will be pushed and pulled by autonomous tractors at either end (blue). These vehicles will be capable of steering this train of carriages both forwards and in reverse.
When another vehicle appears (human driven or autonomous) and wants to overtake (red oval), the tractors will signal the A-frames to stretch and/or contract, so as to create gaps and allow the overtaking to occur safely.
Imagine the complexity and precision of one train overtaking another.
Today’s invention is a way to augment the advertising plastered all over racing cars (especially closed-wheel cars such as in the WEC series).
Each wheel well would be covered-in -for sensible aerodynamic reasons. In this cover would be letters cut out, spelling the name of a sponsor.
As the cars drive around their brake discs glow very brightly.
These would illuminate the sponsor names: especially during 24-hour races.
Some motorcyclists can’t ride their bikes safely because their legs are not long enough to have their feet planted on the ground when necessary (even with the seat lowered).
There are lots of boots with thick insoles which help address the problem, but these change the relationship between the foot and the bike controls.
Today’s invention is a set of clip-on external platforms (red) for bike boots.
Each of these allows the controls ((brake on the right (left image) and gearchange on the left (both yellow)) and the pegs (blue) to be dealt with entirely as normal.
The platforms allow a motorcyclist to stand with their feet flat on the road surface and to walk about normally when away from their machine.
Today’s invention is a lightweight ramp which can be carried on the underside of commercial vehicles.
Not only would this help smooth airflow around the lorry itself, when being driven, but when there was a need to get the vehicle lifted off some of its wheels, the ramp could be disengaged, dropped onto the ground and quickly driven up. Faster certainly than using a conventional jackstand.
The ramp(s) could be made to, say, an aluminium spaceframe design and might also be deployed under the front wheels whenever a heavily loaded vehicle had to drive onto a kerb -to avoid other vehicles or to park up overnight on an elevated area.
Today’s invention is a secure way to carry more fuel on your motorcycle than can be accommodated in the normal tank.
An inverted U shaped tank is firmly secured to the filler cap ring of the original tank (light grey) using the red bolts indicated.
This secondary tank itself has a filler cap (green) which, when opened, allows the petrol pump nozzle (pink) to fill either the original tank, the additional one or both, to whatever levels are chosen.
This arrangement also allows fuel to be stored lower on the machine, thus making it more stable when ridden.
(How cool would it be to be able to have a secondary tank which fitted one’s own upper body: thus supporting some weight and also lessening aerodynamic drag?)
Conventional wisdom says that you have to use either a shaft (inefficient) or a chain (maintenance nightmare) to provide the final drive for your motorcycle.
I’m not a fan of conventional wisdom, so today’s invention provides an alternative.
It takes the form of a train of n idler wheels (n would be an odd number, if the engine direction remains fixed), These lie between the drive sprocket (red) and the rear wheel sprocket (blue).
Experts say this is foolish because it would be noisy, frictional and exhibit high rotational inertia.
I therefore propose that the idlers be made of say spoked carbon fibre with only an outer gear ring made of steel. Encase all of this in an oilspray enclosure and all the major downsides of this approach can be overcome.
This lubricated idler geartrain would be inherently super-strong, efficient and require little maintenance.