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?’”

This Tiny DIY Kiosk From Amazon Would Make a Great Backyard Bar—or Chicken Coop

Allwood, Amazon
Allwood, Amazon

This summer, upgrade your backyard cocktail parties with an actual backyard bar. The Allwood Retail Kiosk, first spotted by House Beautiful and available on Amazon, is designed to be a tiny store, but it can function as so much more. And most importantly, it can be assembled in a matter of hours.

Built from durable Nordic spruce, the compact building is inspired by retail kiosks in Scandinavia. The interior measures 94 square feet, and the window covers fold out into counter-like platforms for serving food and drinks. The versatile structure works as more than just a space for your small business. The seller notes on Amazon that past buyers have used the shack as a chicken coop, and it could even house cats: "I believe this could well work as a feline suite. I don't think they would complain."

The kiosk costs $3990 on Amazon, and shipping is included. Once it's been assembled, the exterior needs to be stained or painted to protect it from the elements. If you're looking for even larger structures that can be delivered, Amazon also sells tiny houses.

[h/t House Beautiful]

$1.6 Billion in $50 Bills in Australia Were Printed With a Typo

PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images
PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

Australia's $50 banknote is filled with details; there are so many of them that it's hard to spot the typo that slipped onto the face of the bill. But if you know where to look, you'll see the spelling error that the treasury failed to catch before printing it on millions of pieces of currency.

According to CNN, the $50 bill, worth about $34.90 in U.S money, debuted in October 2018. It features Edith Cowan, Australia's first female member of parliament, with her inaugural speech to the Western Australian Parliament typed out in microprint above her shoulder. The words are hard to read, but in the zoomed-in image below you can see the word that's supposed to read responsibility in the second line is mistakenly spelled responsibilty. The bill also features innovative security features, such as holographic design elements, but the typo snuck by unnoticed.

The misspelled word was printed on 400 million banknotes, 46 million of which are currently in circulation. Altogether, the misprinted currency in circulation totals A$2.3 billion, or US$1.6 billion.

Australia's treasury plans to keep the bills in circulation and correct the error when the next batch of $50 banknotes is printed sometime in the next few months. Other typos of this scale have resulted in major consequences: In 1962, a missing hyphen in some computer code caused a satellite to explode, costing NASA $80 million.

[h/t CNN]

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