We've had dozens of Invention Award winners over the years, and we found ourselves wondering: what's going on with some of those past winners? We tracked down five of our favorites to find out their current statuses.
A step-by-step guide to becoming a successful inventor
By Katherine E. BagleyPosted 06.18.2012 at 10:50 am 7 Comments
The path to becoming a successful inventor is easier than ever--but there are also a surplus of options, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Here's a step-by-step plan to inventing your own anything.
An insole restores communication between the brain and injured feet
By Becky FerreiraPosted 06.18.2012 at 10:08 am 1 Comment
Long before he became an inventor, Jon Christiansen was a sea captain. In 1985 he was hired to sail a replica of the Godspeed, the ship that landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, in a reenactment of the original voyage. One day while he was cleaning the ship's hull, someone spun the wheel, trapping Christiansen's leg between the rudder and a support post. The accident severed or damaged most of the nerves below his left knee. Doctors told him he would never have feeling in his left foot again.
You've built your own carbonator; now start mineralizing
By Peter SmithPosted 06.15.2012 at 3:38 pm 3 Comments
The mineral composition of water varies subtly, almost imperceptibly, from place to place. Variation in bedrock makes the effervescent springs at Vergeze, France, where Hannibal allegedly found a refreshing drink after crossing the Alps, different from the sulfuric liquid bubbling up out of the ground at Saratoga Springs, New York. Sulfates near Burton, England impart a distinctive minerality to the region’s pale ales. And connoisseurs pay top dollar for these differences.
If your friends and family are anything like mine, you've observed that home beverage carbonation is experiencing a bit of a renaissance lately. Perhaps you've seen the increasingly ubiquitous Sodastream machine on a countertop near you—or, more likely, heard its syncopated honk and pop-fizz release from across the room, announcing another fresh liter of water made bubbly.
A sound-activated device that gives you more freedom than any store-bought clapper could wish for
By Pete Mills as told to Amanda SchupakPosted 06.15.2012 at 12:15 pm 8 Comments
One night, I was trying to draw a circuit on a chalkboard, but it became too dark to see. The next day I bought a new lamp, only to find that the board gave off too much glare. I needed a light I could easily adjust. I could have just installed a dimmer, but where’s the fun in that? As an engineer, I like to do projects that use a little electronics, a bit of mechanics and some software.
When James O'Neill, a retired marketing executive, first learned how helicopter powertrains worked a decade ago, he immediately started redesigning them. Most helicopters have a huge transmission that reduces the engine's high speed to a level more fit for the main propeller and turns the tail rotor to keep the aircraft from corkscrewing out of control. Engineers had found a way to get rid of the tail rotor years ago: Place a coaxial propeller on the main propeller, and spin it in the opposite direction. But doing so still required a complicated assembly to achieve the proper speed and to create spin in opposite directions. O'Neill realized that a cam engine, which trades a crankshaft for a series of lobed cams, could power both propellers at the right speed without the need for a weighty, maintenance-heavy gearbox. If he could just design a cam system that produced counter-rotational force, he'd have a new kind of helicopter that was simpler and lighter.
Need something to put in your homemade DIY sous-vide machine? Try Paul's buckwheat rye gelato
By Paul Adams and Dan NosowitzPosted 06.13.2012 at 5:23 pm 2 Comments
One of our all-time favorite food hacks is the DIY sous vide setup--it takes a very trendy, seemingly complicated and intimidating device and brings it to your countertop with just a little bit of work.
One evening last fall in Heiskell, Tennessee, Michael Robinson was battling a house fire when he saw a fellow firefighter struggling to pick himself up off the ground. The man, who was wearing 70 pounds of gear, was delirious from heat and overexertion. Robinson rushed to his side, removed him from the area, and cooled him down as best he could with wet towels. Very slowly, the firefighter’s core temperature returned to normal, and eventually he recovered. But, Robinson says, the outcome could have been much worse.
It's not unlikely that your grandparent used canning jars for their original purpose: canning. But here in the twenty-first-century kitchen, the hard-to-destroy, easy-to-seal jar has become valuable for many more purposes. We love it -- and not just because one of the most popular models is manufactured by aerospace pioneer Ball.