Tesla recently applied for a patent to use laser beams to clean a car's windshield. They justify the lasers by explaining that they're needed to make sure the driver-assistance system maintains a clear field of view.
It's a long, technical application, which I didn't bother to read completely. So I assume they must have considered how it might be a bad idea to have lasers suddenly blasting away at a windshield while someone is driving the car... or even just sitting in the front seat.
Carl Herold of Pittsburgh didn't think it made sense to sell shoe polish in tin containers, because the containers were so expensive that they added substantially to the cost of the shoe polish. So, back in 1872, he came up with a solution, which he patented: pack shoe polish in animal guts.
The object of my invention is to provide a cheap and convenient mode or means for packing the ordinary shoe-blacking of commerce, which is now almost universally put up in shallow tin boxes, which, being expensive, comparatively, greatly enhances the price of the blacking thus packed... My improvement consists in putting shoe-blacking upon the market packed in the guts of animals, which will add but a trifle to the cost of the blacking.
Figure 1 is an elevation of a package of blacking put up in accordance with my invention. Fig. 2 is a transverse section thereof...
The blacking is packed in suitable lengths of animal guts A, which are then firmly tied up at both ends, presenting the appearance of a sausage. Each package should be wrapped in paper to prevent the grease or oil upon the outer surface of the package from soiling the hands in handling it. The blacking thus packed will retain its moisture, and consequently remain in a proper plastic state for a great length of time. In this condition it may be sold by the pound, each purchaser or user providing himself with a small saucer or other shallow vessel into which to empty portions of the package from time to time for use.
Patent No. 4,344,424, granted to Lucy L. Barmby of Sacramento, California in 1982. From the patent description:
a primary object of this invention is to provide a new and novel device for preventing the consumption of food by an individual.
It goes into more detail about who the invention might benefit:
The temptation to eat which leads one to eat excessively is ever present and the ready availability of attractively prepared, taste-tempting foods makes the temptation to eat and therefore to over eat virtually irresistible. Frequently, this temptation is so great that compulsive eating is not uncommon and many persons are virtually without the strength of will to resist overeating. The average person, therefore, does have a problem as to the over consumption of food but, even worse, when certain individuals are exposed to food constantly such as chefs, cooks, restaurant personnel or the like, it is a foregone conclusion that these individuals will consume far more food than is proper particularly when such food is usually readily available at no cost. Typical of such groups of individuals is the housewife who must frequently cook meals during the day which generally includes the preparation of such fattening foods such as pies, pastries, and the like. During the preparation of such meals not only is there the temptation to nibble on the food being prepared but it is generally necessary that the food be tasted during preparation thereby constantly stimulating the appetite and promoting the consumption of large quantities of food.
I'm imagining a husband preparing to go to work and strapping the anti-eating face mask on his wife before he leaves.
But couldn't the wearer just lift the mask off? Nope. It's locked on, though "under emergency conditions, the strap may be cut and the face mask of the invention removed."
Desmond Slattery (1914-1977) claimed to be a naturalist. But I'm not sure how much scientific training he actually had. I suspect that's just how he rebranded himself after his career in Hollywood fizzled.
His 'Songbird Saver,' which he debuted in 1968, was designed to stop cats from attacking birds by conditioning them to think that, if they did so, the birds would explode. As explained in the LA Times (Jan 23, 1969):
Basically, the Songbird Saver consists of a small dummy bird which, when nudged by a cat for any reason, explodes.
Slattery's own news release describes its effectiveness perhaps more vividly:
"Slipping out of the house, the trainee-cat will make its stealthily stalking approach... Seeing it (the Songbird Saver), apparently frozen with terror, the trainee-cat will pounce upon it, and with the resulting explosion, that cat will go about 9 feet in the air and take off for the high timber before its feet touch the ground."
It is with this simple device that Slattery hopes to save civilization "as we know it."
"Songbirds are vital to our ecology of life," he explained. "Our society could not exist without them. Frankly, in six years we'd be up to our neck in insects."
Slattery emphasized his device is harmless to cats and uses merely the same sort of exploding caps used in cap pistols. It is based on common theories of preconditioning and some stuff he read by Mark Twain on a cat's ability to learn.
"It's based, actually, on a combination of Pavlov and Mark Twain. If both those guys are wrong, I'm wrong."
The dapper 54-year-old promoter denied he was "anti-cat" and said that in fact his invention would allow cats and birds to live together in harmony.
A new gadget, the VISSEIRO Smart Chair Pad, promises to allow people to remotely monitor the health of loved ones via a seat cushion. When someone (a grandmother, for example) sits on the cushion, it's able to record various vital signs through her buttocks. It can then send this info to an app on the phone of the granddaughter, offering reassurance that grandma is still alive and doing well.
My question is: if the vital signs flatline, how do you know if grandma is dead, or has simply stood up?
In 2018, Ohio State University became home to the world’s first bacon vending machine. It was a promotional stunt dreamed up by the Ohio Pork Council.
Although the machine got lots of publicity, I'm having a hard time figuring out what exactly came out of the machine. As far as I can tell, it wasn't a piece of sizzling, freshly-cooked bacon. Instead, it was a slice of pre-cooked, cold bacon. Still, it was bacon.
The stunt was only a limited-time affair, but the machine proved so popular that one is now being installed at Buckeyes' Stadium.
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.