By Sam Biddle - GizmodoPosted 08.26.2010 at 2:30 pm 1 Comment
"Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits," Thomas Edison once said. But is hustling all it takes? Is progress always deliberate? Sometimes genius arrives not by choice—but by chance. Below are our ten favorite serendipitous innovations.
Here at PopSci, we love looking back on our previous dreams of the future.
So we get really excited about artists like Shigeru Komatsuzaki, a prolific Japanese illustrator who spent 50 years drawing his own unique vision of the future. In magazines, model packages and even films, he imagined a world filled with things like rocket-launching robots, car boats and solar cities. If only things turned out like Komatsuzaki dreamed.
Say the word "toy" to a techie, and his mind will think one thing: robots. But all infrared-loving, artificially-intelligent smart-toy-ogling tech-savvy aside, new toys can instill as much "ooh! shiny!" as even the hottest cellphone. And we're not just talking about robots: This week, the International Toy Fair hit NYC, and PopSci.com found 20 funky new toys with a few tricks up their sleeves.
Sifteo, makers of Siftables, the ingenious cookie-sized computer blocks that play together in infinitely interesting ways, has today officially gone from MIT Media Lab research project to actual company. They're now open for business, but you'll have to wait a bit longer to actually get your hands on some. Nonetheless, we're excited.
Whoever thinks science isn't fun must have never heard of Legos. The colorful construction toy has been used before as a cellular teaching tool. But these days, even researchers working in the nanoscale world get to play around a little.
The problem with working for a magazine about the future is that things don’t always—in fact, rarely—happen as you say they’re going to, and readers let you know. The call I’ve been getting harassed about for almost four years now: colored bubbles that don't leave stains.
Did you ever once doubt that extreme radio-controlled airplane flying would exist, somewhere? Proof of just that is above, in a video showing practitioners of dynamic soaring, a technique that utilizes specialized wind phenomenon to get RC gliders looping through the air at world-record speeds nearing 400MPH. So how does it all work?
While not exactly to scale, I love this expression of the evolution of cellphones via Russian Matryoshka dolls. It's a concept toy by designer Kyle Bean.
Even though we're all still digesting the Palm Pre--Apple's WWDC event is sure to bring news of the next iPhone iteration in just about an hour. We'll keep you posted.
For a beautiful demonstration of both magnetic force and gyroscopic motion, let's contemplate the Levitron. This novelty toy (which even now sits on my shelf waiting for a quick spin around the block) consists of a magnetic base upon which you spin a magnetic gyroscope. Both the bottom of the gyroscope and the top of the base contain magnetic north poles, and therefore they repel each other.
However, try as you might, you'll never be able to balance the magnet above the base without spinning the top. Why is this?