Category:
Technology

Mushroom-Based Air Conditioning

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have invented (and patented) a mushroom-powered air cooling system that can reduce the temperature in a semiclosed compartment by approximately 10 °C in 25 minutes. They call it the "MycoCooler." From their recent article in PNAS:

We constructed a mushroom-based air-cooling device, MycoCooler™, based on previous observations that mushrooms can cool the surrounding air via evaporative cooling. The device was made from a Styrofoam box with a 1-cm–diameter inlet aperture and a 2-cm–diameter outlet aperture. An exhaust fan was attached outside the outlet aperture to drive airflow in and out of the box. The MycoCooler™ was loaded with ~420 g of substrate-detached A. bisporus mushrooms, closed, and placed inside a larger Styrofoam box previously equilibrated inside a warm room (37.8 °C, <10% RH). The temperature inside the closed Styrofoam box decreased from 37.8 °C to 27.8 °C, 40 min after the addition of mushrooms, cooling at approximately 10 °C, at ~0.4 °C per min.

It's an interesting concept, but somehow I don't think a MycoCooler would be powerful enough to beat the heat here in Arizona. (Though in the days before AC, everyone here used evaporative coolers. But they also say that it's much hotter here than it used to be... a combination of global warming and the urban heat-island effect.)

More info: Johns Hopkins, Patent No. 11871707

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 23, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Technology, Patents

Sheaffer Pen accurately predicted the future

In 1963 and 1964, Sheaffer Pen ran an ad campaign in which they made a variety of predictions about future technologies of the 21st century. The company contrasted these technologies, which must have seemed a bit pie-in-the-sky at the time, with the timeless performance of a Sheaffer pen. The surprising thing is that all their predictions have come true: instant mail delivery, checkbooks that balance themselves electronically, portable visual phones, ring tape recorders, camera sunglasses, credit card rings, electronic translators.

They don't all exist in the specific form that Sheaffer imagined (credit card rings?), but in each case the equivalent or better exists.









Newsweek - Sep 23, 1963

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 21, 2024 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, Advertising, 1960s, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Mystery Gadget 108

This is not an iron lung machine. So then, what's going on?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jan 18, 2024 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, Twentieth Century

Pocket Typewriter

In 1952, Maurice Julliard patented a typewriter small enough to fit inside "an average size pocket." It could be used "without any support, being simply held in the hand."

His patent included a sketch of the typewriter, but I haven't been able to find any pictures of it. I'm not sure what practical use it was supposed to have, beyond being a novelty. His patent doesn't say. Would one use it to type miniature notes or manuscripts?

I noticed that it had a non-qwerty keyboard.

The Hackensack Record - July 24, 1952





Julliard's pocket typewriter wasn't the first one in existence. The book Victorian Inventions by Leonard de Vries contains an example from 1891. Though unlike Julliard's typewriter, it lacked a keyboard.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 07, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Technology, Patents, 1950s

301 views

The video below is interesting as a peek into the way that YouTube works, but it's also interesting as a YouTube curiosity because its view counter is permanently stuck at 301, and has been for 11 years now, even though its actual view count is probably well over 1 million. Someone at YouTube had to deliberately freeze its view counter. As far as I know, it's the only video on YouTube that's received special treatment in this way.


Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 08, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Technology, Internet, Video

The First Woman to Marry a Hologram

Back in 2018 we posted about Akihiko Kondo, a Japanese man who married a hologram. His holographic wife floated inside a desktop device.

Now Spanish artist Alicia Framis has announced she'll also be marrying a hologram. Her holographic partner is a life-size, three-dimensional projection powered by AI. His name is AILex.



Whereas Akihiko Kondo married a hologram because, by his own admission, he had trouble forming relationships with flesh-and-blood women, Framis is marrying a hologram as a piece of performance art which she's titled "The First Woman to Marry a Hologram."

She previously lived with a mannequin named Pierre.

More info: ElPais.com, AliciaFramis.com

Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 07, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Technology, AI, Robots and Other Automatons, Performance Art, Marriage

Dial Comes to Town

Posted By: Paul - Thu Nov 30, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Family, PSA’s, Technology, Telephones, 1940s

A system for climbing vertical surfaces

The French patent office granted Raymond Saulnier a patent in 1951 for "a system for climbing vertical surfaces." A British patent followed in 1952.

Saulnier had come up with a way to allow vehicles, or even people, to climb vertical surfaces without the aid of ropes. His insight was that climbing any slope is essentially a problem of adhesion. If a force stronger than gravity is pushing you against the slope, then you won't slide down. And that adhesive force could be supplied by the downward pressure of propellors or jet nozzles.



Of course, powering propellors or jet nozzles requires a lot of energy. So Saulnier imagined powering them with compressed air supplied by a tube from the ground. He suggested that firefighters, among others, might find his system useful for scaling the sides of buildings.

I've never seen a prototype of Saulnier's invention in action. But when I was in Target the other day, I noticed a Sharper Image-branded toy named the "Gravity Rover" that "climbs from floor to wall to ceiling." It occurred to me that this was Saulnier's invention transformed into a toy.

It's a pretty cool toy, but based on videos of it, extremely loud.



Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 26, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Technology, Toys, Patents

The Honeywell Kitchen Computer

In 1969, Neiman Marcus offered a Honeywell "kitchen computer" in its Christmas catalog. The price tag was $10,600, which is equivalent to about $80,000 today. The price included a two-week course in programming, which was required to know how to use the computer. The computer could supposedly store recipes and help housewives plan meals.

No one ever bought one. Or rather, no one ever bought the "kitchen computer," but a few people (engineers, and the like) did buy the H316 minicomputer, which is what the kitchen computer really was. Neiman Marcus and Honeywell had simply repackaged the H316 as a kitchen computer.

Nevertheless, the "kitchen computer" is now credited as being the very first time a company had offered a home computer for sale. One of them is on display at the Computer History Museum.

More info: wikipedia

image source: Divining a Digital Future, by Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell



If someone had bought one of the kitchen computers, it would have been pretty much unusable, because a user had to communicate with it in binary code, using a series of 16 buttons on the front to enter data. From Wired:

The thought that an average person, like a housewife, could have used it to streamline chores like cooking or bookkeeping was ridiculous, even if she aced the two-week programming course included in the $10,600 price tag. If the lady of the house wanted to build her family’s dinner around broccoli, she’d have to code in the green veggie as 0001101000. The kitchen computer would then suggest foods to pair with broccoli from its database by "speaking" its recommendations as a series of flashing lights.


image source: The Computer, by Mark Frauenfelder

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 22, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Technology, Computers, 1960s

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

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