Its formal name was the “man-carried auto-navigation device,” but it went by the nickname “Man Can.” The Martin-Marietta Corporation received patent no. 3,355,942 for it in 1967.
It was a device designed to help soldiers avoid getting lost. The patent offered this description:
a lightweight, completely mechanical, low energy device by which small units of men may locate themselves accurately with respect to some reference point when operating in the jungle, darkness or bad weather without dependence upon visual landmarks.
It combined a compass and a pedometer. A GI would record his initial location on a map, and then the device would track his footsteps and the directions in which he turned. When he was done walking, the device would tell him his new coordinates.
A key feature of the device was that it didn't use any battery power. So the GIs would never need to worry about it running out of juice. It operated via a bellows located in the heel of the GI's shoe.
I can't find any follow-up reports about how well this gadget worked. Apparently not well enough to warrant its adoption by the army. But it was an interesting concept.
An experimental model of the 'Taste Organ,' which was developed by a French scientist. To enjoy the taste 'harmonies' the 'listener' holds a small tube in his mouth so that the various concentrated liquids can be injected either singly or in the correct combination.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.