Category:
Inventions

Smoking-Cessation Lighter

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US Patent 5871518, issued on February 16, 1999, is for a "smoking cessation lighter and method." The patent abstract offers this description:

A lighter for tobacco products suppresses the urge to smoke by operant conditioning. It delivers a shock to the user's hand when the lighter is extinguished. This generally happens when the first puffs of smoke are being inhaled. Inhalation of the smoke gives a positive reinforcement of the habit because of the pharmacologic effects of the smoke. The shock provides a negative or suppressive action at the same time. The anticipation of the shock will negate the anticipation of the relief the drugs in the smoke provide. In an alternative embodiment, the shock is applied at the time of activation of the lighter. In yet another embodiment of the invention a negative stimulus is provided by a pin that pricks the user at the time of activation of the lighter.

Maybe I'm not understanding the invention, but it seems to me to be exactly the same as the electric-shock lighters that have been a favorite of pranksters for years. Except that the patent dresses up the prank with some scientific mumbo-jumbo. And instead of being conditioned not to smoke, wouldn't a smoker simply learn not to use that lighter? (Thanks to Sherry Mowbray!)

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 11, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions

Goatee Saver

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The Goatee Saver promises you a perfect Goatee, every shave:

Tired of the constant struggle every morning trying to get your goatee to look perfect? GoateeSaver revolutionizes the way you shave and trim your goatee. GoateeSaver can be customized to your face in seconds, with three easy adjustments. Just slide it over your mouth and shave to get the perfect look that women will admire and men will respect.

Plus it can also double as a Hannibal Lecter costume for Halloween.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 10, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Hygiene, Inventions

Robotic and Redneck Stonehenge

Steve Norris has built a Stonehenge Robotic Digital Clock. I don't think it would work so well as a bedside timepiece (the whirring of it might keep you up at night), but it would definitely be something you could show off to your friends. It would be even cooler if a version of this were built that was the actual size of Stonehenge. (via OhGizmo!)



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And speaking of Stonehenge, Rhett Davis, a farmer in Hooper, Utah has built what he calls his "Redneck Stonehenge" to annoy his residential neighbors who apparently don't understand "him and his kind." It's three cars stuck in the ground, which is no rival to Carhenge in Nebraska. (Thanks, Katey!)

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 05, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Buildings and Other Structures, Inventions, Technology, Video

Riding the Rails

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Of course we all know that the image of a hand-pumped railroad trolley is a comedy staple. But I find the notion of special little motorized vehicles adapted to ride the rails just as funny. As you might predict, there's an organization dedicated to hobbyists and collectors of these miniature rail-mounted transports, and it's to be found here.

My local newspaper has a great article about a fellow who restored the vehicle pictured to the right.

I imagine a Farelly Brothers movie in which the hero confounds the bad guys by making his unpredictable escape in such a vehicle--at a whopping 5 MPH!

Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 04, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Eccentrics, Collectors, History, Inventions, Technology, Travel, Transportation, 1950s, Cars

Annoying Gadgets

We all love gadgets. Except for the truly useless and frustrating devices. Those we hate and ridicule. The Japanese actually have a term and category for such items: Chindōgu.

Recently, while browsing through the catalog for WHATEVER WORKS, I found two examples of Chindōgu.


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This anti-cootie sack for the paranoid traveler seems utterly useless. Wouldn't the bedbugs crawl inside within seconds of contact?'













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This spinning fork is guaranteed to suck all the pleasure out of an eternal childhood pastime: making S'mores. When the batteries die and the plastic handle melts, all the fun comes to a tearful end.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 30, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Products, Domestic, Food, Inventions, Travel, Hotels

Jetpack Dreams

That most silly and pointless and inutile, yet much desired of flight mechanisms, the jetpack, is back in the news. You can read a New York Times piece about the latest model here.



And a review copy of this book recently arrived in my mailbox, portending lots of fun.











Yet such mechanisms pale before the magnificently insane accomplishment of Yves Rossy, who, a couple of years ago, basically turned himself into Iron Man. Watch his jet-powered flight below.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 29, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Eccentrics, Flight, Inventions, Literature, Science Fiction, Movies, Obsessions, Pop Culture, Technology, Travel, Yesterday's Tomorrows

Fuller’s Fog Gun

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Buckminster Fuller was great at dreaming up inventions that, he hoped, would help humanity by making people's lives easier and less stressful. However, most of them never caught on. One of his ideas was the fog gun.

The basic concept was to combine the cleansing effects of wind and heavy fog. His system used compressed air, atomized water and liquid soap. Standing in the blast of this "fog gun" for approximately ten minutes would completely clean a person. From buckminster.info:

His fog gun....afforded a new kind of bathing. It combined compressed air (over 200 pounds/square inch) and atomized water with triggered-in solvents. The kinetic force of the high-pressure air stream was utilized without the skin-damaging effect unavoidable in high-pressure needle-pointing of water streams...

The best part was that you could leave the fog gun running for an hour, and it only used a pint of water. And, "If fog gun bathing were done in front of a heat lamp, all the sanitary & muscle-relaxing effects of other types of bathing could be effected without the use of any bathroom."

Fuller described the fog gun in his first book, Nine Chains to the Moon, published in 1938, the title of which referred to the idea that if all the people in the world stood on each other's shoulders, they would form nine chains to the moon. Back then the world's population was about 2 billion. Now we're at over 6.6 billion, so presumably we're looking at about thirty chains to the moon.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jul 28, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Bathrooms, Inventions

Mechanical Elephants

Once upon a time, mechanical elephants roamed up and down the boardwalks of beaches. Check out the clip below from a 1950s newsreel. The elephant, built by Frank Stuart was "Gasoline Powered with a 4 cylinder English Side Valve Ford engine. Top speed 27 MPH!"



I found the clip on the blog of Eastcliff Richard who reports that, "Astonishingly Britain used to lead the world in the production of mechanical elephants. This one was later sold to the late, great, dearly-departed Peter Sellers as part of his eccentric collection of automobilia."

Some more videos of mechanical elephants can be found here and here.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 17, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Inventions, Technology

Robo-Crabs

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Good: HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creatures. Available soon at Radio Shack.

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Better: The Killer Spider Tank Tachikoma.

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Best: NASA's Spidernaut robot arachnid.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 15, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Inventions, Technology

The Uroclub

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Florida has a lot of elderly golfers with weak bladders. To help these folks, Florida urologist Floyd Seskin created the UroClub. It is:
A camouflaged portable urinal, designed to be discrete, sanitary and create an air of privacy! It looks like an ordinary golf club and comes equipped with a unique removable golf towel clipped to the shaft that functions as a privacy shield!

I've got to admit, it is practical. But a bit pricey at almost $50.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 15, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Bathrooms, Inventions, Sports, Products

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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.

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Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.

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