The Quick 10: 10 Questionable Patents

With the millions of patents out there, there are bound to be a few nutso ones, right? Or maybe a LOT of them. Here are 10 of the more curious patents out there. I'll let you decide if they're crazy-genius or crazy-crazy.

mask1. Anti-eating face mask. I guess people have spent money on stranger weight-loss techniques, but I feel like this one would earn you some pretty strange looks when you're out in public. But you would get bonus points if you wore it out and about and then ended your conversations with, "I'd love to chat more, but I'm having an old friend for dinner..."
2. Beerbrella. It's soooo annoying when a bug flies into your drink or the sun beams its rays right down into your icy cold beverage and renders it lukewarm. Well, the Beerbrella is supposed to help with both of those problems. Or you could drink your beer faster and not have either of those issues to begin with.

3. Speaking of umbrellas, isn't it a pain to carry one? No worries "“ the body mounted umbrella is here to save the day! Simply strap on an unsightly belt around your waist and then insert the umbrella into the back of it. Voila! Hands-free umbrella. And it's almost as cool looking as the umbrella hat.

bib4. Bib for use while operating a vehicle. I don't"¦ I just"¦ it's so"¦ What?! Is this even legal? Although if you couple this with SNL's Jiffy Pop airbag, you might just be on to something...

5. Skyscraper Curtains. In case of a fire, curtains attached to the top of a skyscraper automatically unfurl to cover all of the windows and suffocate the fire.
6. Wig flipping device. It's a spring-loaded device that allows the wearer to literally flip their wig at their whim. The problem with this is, you have to wear this stupid thing and wait around for someone to use the phrase in front of you until you can really use it for maximum effect. And I don't think people say that phrase much these days.

toe7. Toe puppets. Here's the official explanation: "A puppet is adapted to be mounted on a single human digit for providing animated motion of a figurine responsive to movement of the single human digit. The puppet comprises a hollow, elastic cap having an interior wall defining a cavity into which the single human digit is snugly received. The cap includes a resilient neck portion for supporting the figurine at a distance spaced from the single human digit such that movement of the single human digit causes the neck portion and the figurine to oscillate to and fro under the influence of the weight of the figurine." Which is great and all, but leads to the question"¦ why?! Maybe if your kid looooves puppets and you lost both arms in a tragic accident. That's the only reason I can come up with. It's either that or to creep someone out who really hates feet.

bee8. A self-containing enclosure for protection from killer bees. I think the name and the picture say it all.

bird9. Bird diaper. I know pet birds are messy, but the picture sent me into a fit of giggles when I saw it. I fail to imagine any bird, pet or not, that will let you wrangle it into this contraption.
10. Apparatus for simulating a high five. Is there anything sadder than when you're excited about something or have just accomplished something wonderful and you go to high five someone"¦ and there's no one there? OK, yeah, there are a lot of things sadder than that. But if that's on your top five list of disappointing things about life, this patent has got you covered. As long as you don't mind a disembodied arm sitting around your house, that is.

Ahhh"¦ I don't think I've been so amused when writing a Quick 10 in a long time. There are some more really great ones here, if you're in need of a laugh this afternoon too.

10 Things We Know About The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2

Though Hulu has been producing original content for more than five years now, 2017 turned out to be a banner year for the streaming network with the debut of The Handmaid’s Tale on April 26, 2017. The dystopian drama, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, imagines a future in which a theocratic regime known as Gilead has taken over the United States and enslaved fertile women so that the group’s most powerful couples can procreate.

If it all sounds rather bleak, that’s because it is—but it’s also one of the most impressive new series to arrive in years (as evidenced by the slew of awards it has won, including eight Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards). Fortunately, fans left wanting more don’t have that much longer to wait, as season two will premiere on Hulu in April. In the meantime, here’s everything we know about The Handmaid’s Tale’s second season.


When The Handmaid’s Tale returns on April 25, 2018, Hulu will release the first two of its 13 new episodes on premiere night, then drop another new episode every Wednesday.


Fans of Atwood’s novel who didn’t like that season one went beyond the original source material are in for some more disappointment in season two, as the narrative will again go beyond the scope of what Atwood covered. But creator/showrunner Bruce Miller doesn’t necessarily agree with the criticism they received in season one.

“People talk about how we're beyond the book, but we're not really," Miller told Newsweek. "The book starts, then jumps 200 years with an academic discussion at the end of it, about what's happened in those intervening 200 years. We're not going beyond the novel. We're just covering territory [Atwood] covered quickly, a bit more slowly.”

Even more importantly, Miller's got Atwood on his side. The author serves as a consulting producer on the show, and the title isn’t an honorary one. For Miller, Atwood’s input is essential to shaping the show, particularly as it veers off into new territories. And they were already thinking about season two while shooting season one. “Margaret and I had started to talk about the shape of season two halfway through the first [season],” he told Entertainment Weekly.

In fact, Miller said that when he first began working on the show, he sketched out a full 10 seasons worth of storylines. “That’s what you have to do when you’re taking on a project like this,” he said.


As with season one, motherhood is a key theme in the series. And June/Offred’s pregnancy will be one of the main plotlines. “So much of [Season 2] is about motherhood,” Elisabeth Moss said during the Television Critics Association press tour. “Bruce and I always talked about the impending birth of this child that’s growing inside her as a bit of a ticking time bomb, and the complications of that are really wonderful to explore. It’s a wonderful thing to have a baby, but she’s having it potentially in this world that she may not want to bring it into. And then, you know, if she does have the baby, the baby gets taken away from her and she can’t be its mother. So, obviously, it’s very complicated and makes for good drama. But, it’s a very big part of this season, and it gets bigger and bigger as the show goes on.”


Just because June is pregnant, don’t expect her to sit on the sidelines as the resistance to Gilead continues. “There is more than one way to resist," Moss said. “There is resistance within [June], and that is a big part of this season.”


A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Miller, understandably, isn’t eager to share too many details about the new season. “I’m not being cagey!” he swore to Entertainment Weekly. “I just want the viewers to experience it for themselves!” What he did confirm is that the new season will bring us to the colonies—reportedly in episode two—and show what life is like for those who have been sent there.

It will also delve further into what life is like for the refugees who managed to escape Gilead, like Luke and Moira.


Though she won’t be a regular cast member, Miller recently announced that Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will make a guest appearance in the new season’s second episode. Yes, the one that will show us the Colonies. In fact, that’s where we’ll meet her; Tomei is playing the wife of a Commander.


As a group shrouded in secrecy, we still don’t know much about how and where Gilead began. That will change a bit in season two. When discussing some of the questions viewers will have answered, executive producer Warren Littlefield promised that, "How did Gilead come about? How did this happen?” would be two of them. “We get to follow the historical creation of this world,” he said.


A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'

While Miller wouldn’t talk about who the handmaids are mourning in a teaser shot from season two that shows a handmaid’s funeral, he was excited to talk about creating the look for the scene. “Everything from the design of their costumes to the way they look is so chilling,” Miller told Entertainment Weekly. “These scenes that are so beautiful, while set in such a terrible place, provide the kind of contrast that makes me happy.”


Like season one, Miller says that The Handmaid’s Tale's second season will again balance its darker, dystopian themes with glimpses of hopefulness. “I think the first season had very difficult things, and very hopeful things, and I think this season is exactly the same way,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “There come some surprising moments of real hope and victory, and strength, that come from surprising places.”

Moss, however, has a different opinion. “It's a dark season,” she told reporters at TCA. “I would say arguably it's darker than Season 1—if that's possible.”


A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'

When pressed about how the teaser images for the new season seemed to feature a lot of blood, Miller conceded: “Oh gosh, yeah. There may be a little more blood this season.”

NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
Researchers in Singapore Deploy Robot Swans to Test Water Quality
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

There's something peculiar about the new swans floating around reservoirs in Singapore. They drift across the water like normal birds, but upon closer inspection, onlookers will find they're not birds at all: They're cleverly disguised robots designed to test the quality of the city's water.

As Dezeen reports, the high-tech waterfowl, dubbed NUSwan (New Smart Water Assessment Network), are the work of researchers at the National University of Singapore [PDF]. The team invented the devices as a way to tackle the challenges of maintaining an urban water source. "Water bodies are exposed to varying sources of pollutants from urban run-offs and industries," they write in a statement. "Several methods and protocols in monitoring pollutants are already in place. However, the boundaries of extensive assessment for the water bodies are limited by labor intensive and resource exhaustive methods."

By building water assessment technology into a plastic swan, they're able to analyze the quality of the reservoirs cheaply and discreetly. Sensors on the robots' undersides measure factors like dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll levels. The swans wirelessly transmit whatever data they collect to the command center on land, and based on what they send, human pilots can remotely tweak the robots' performance in real time. The hope is that the simple, adaptable technology will allow researchers to take smarter samples and better understand the impact of the reservoir's micro-ecosystem on water quality.

Man placing robotic swan in water.
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

This isn't the first time humans have used robots disguised as animals as tools for studying nature. Check out this clip from the BBC series Spy in the Wild for an idea of just how realistic these robots can get.

[h/t Dezeen]


More from mental floss studios