Pipe Dream: The Wacky Plan to Pump Antarctic Ice into Australia

iStock/atese
iStock/atese

Arthur Paul Pedrick hated his job at the British patent office. He spent each day doing the same boring task: reading dense applications and determining whether the inventions therein were truly original. “[It’s] the most soul-destroying professional occupation in science or technology,” he once moaned. So when Pedrick finally left his job in 1961, he found a way to liven things up at his old workplace—by becoming one of the most prolific, and unusual, inventors of all time.

Over the next 15 years, Pedrick applied for approximately 160 patents, each one wackier than the last. He dreamed up a golf ball that could steer itself onto the fairway after a bad hook or slice. He sketched a device resembling a hovercraft. In response to the 1973 oil crisis, he patented a horse-powered car that literally put the cart before the horse. To prevent nuclear war, he designed a radiation detector that worked simultaneously as a “peace-keeping” bomb and, oddly, as a cat flap that admits only orange-colored felines.

(The patent was titled “Photon Push-Pull Radiation Detector for Use in Chromatically Selective Cat Flap Control and 1000 Megaton, Earth-Orbital, Peace-Keeping Bomb.” The application includes commentary from Pedrick’s cat, Ginger: “Purr-purr … That’s quite clever.”)

But Patent GB1203136 (A) takes the cake. In it, Pedrick planned a pipeline for carrying “ice balls” from Antarctica to central Australia. The pipes would harness Earth’s rotation to whisk dense snowballs at a speed of 1000 mph into a mountainous reservoir in the “dead heart” of Australia. The surplus of fresh water, Pedrick argued, would help create an agricultural wonderland that could be used to halt famine all over the world. (Fittingly, the patent was titled “Improvements in the Irrigation of ‘Deserts’ by Snow Piped from Polar Regions for the Purpose of Minimizing the Impending World Famine.”)

Nobody is certain whether Pedrick was serious about his inventions or if he was just trolling the system he loved to hate. The most likely explanation is that he pitied the poor, bored patent examiners and wanted to give them something to smile about. (After all, many of his applications spiraled into amusing diatribes and included poetry.)

Regardless, one thing stood in the way of his dream to turn the sandy landscape of central Australia into a watery paradise. “My ginger cat has just come in and I shall have to go and open another tin of cat food, which continues to rise in price,” he wrote in the application, “so how can I afford to get my ‘Ice Balls’ rolling into the ‘Deserts?’”

The New iPhone 11 Is Triggering People With Trypophobia

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

People with trypophobia, or a fear of clusters of small holes, know which triggers to avoid. Soap bubbles, lotus seed pods, and the insides of cantaloupes can all induce panic and revulsion in people who are sensitive to the pattern. Now, they have a new item to add to their list. As Gizmodo points out, the new iPhone has a design feature that's turning off trypophobes.

Apple debuted the iPhone 11 at an event on September 10 ahead of its release on September 20. This latest model comes with many upgrades, including a super-powered processor and longer battery life, but the biggest change has been met with a mixed reception.

The iPhone 11 Pro has three camera lenses where there would normally be one. People who prefer Apple's sleek, minimalist style have criticized the design, while those with trypophobia have had even stronger reactions. Some scientists think the fear of clusters of holes originally developed as a survival mechanism to steer people away from infectious diseases. When someone gets nauseous at the sight of three cameras grouped on the back of a smart phone, it's because it reminds them of decaying flesh.

Presentation launching iPhone 11.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The iPhone likely looks the way it does today thanks to another highly specific fear that afflicted Steve Jobs. The Apple founder suffered from koumpounophobia, or a fear of buttons—an incredibly rare phobia that's only been documented once in all of psychiatric literature. His fear may have lead to the popularization of the smooth, buttonless touch screen. It also explains why the tech giant preferred black turtlenecks to button-down shirts.

Though similar to trypophobia, a fear of buttons and fear of clusters of circles aren't quite the same thing. So while triggering to many, the updated iPhone doesn't necessarily conflict with Jobs's original design aesthetic.

[h/t Gizmodo]

The Reason Why Ships Are Often Painted Red on the Bottom

75tiks/iStock via Getty Images
75tiks/iStock via Getty Images

If you’ve ever salvaged a sea vessel, you might have noticed that ship hulls are often red. If you haven’t dealt with a shipwreck—and chances are you haven’t—you may have still seen a red hull in pictures or in partial view at a shipyard. Since that portion of the ship is below the waterline, it seems strange to opt for a specific color.

The reason is tradition. And worms.

In a piece for Jalopnik, Andrew P. Collins explains that early sailing ships protected themselves against barnacles and wood-eating worms by covering their hulls in a copper or copper oxide paint that acted as a biocide. The copper gave the paint a red tint. By reducing the muck that naturally collects on the hull, ships can maintain their structural integrity and avoid being weighed down by gunk like seaweed that would reduce drag.

These days, biocides can be mixed with virtually any color of paint. But the hulls are often painted red to maintain a nautical tradition. Collins also points out that the red may help observers gauge the load of a ship’s cargo. The more weight on board, the lower in the water it will be. That's why you often see numbers positioned vertically on the side of the hull.

No matter what’s covering the hull, it’s never going to completely eliminate growth. Often, ports will prohibit ship owners from scraping hulls while docked, since ships traveling in outside waters might have picked up a non-native species of weed that could prove problematic in a new environment.

[h/t Jalopnik]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER