Some people watch Wile E Coyote strap himself to a giant rocket and say, "Why?" Inventors watch the same thing and say, "Why not?"
This is a tribute to the brave dreamers and engineers who are working hard to bring to market the kind of products previously only found in cartoons and ACME catalogs. Such as...
In the past, anyone wishing to scale a wall for purposes of thievery or unintentionally hilarious suicide had to do it the old-fashioned way: strapping toilet plungers to their limbs. The folks at Gekkomat have taken us into a future that not only improves exponentially on the plunger device, but may also bring a series of spectacular and comedic deaths into the world.
The device was supposedly inspired by the gecko, whose climbing ability the company wanted to duplicate "as naturally as possible." By "naturally", they mean with four huge vacuum pads, a computer and a big tank of compressed air.
This gecko is only able to adhere to this tree by means of a hidden air tank and a computer.
The Gekkomat is an awesome concept, no doubt, but the makers themselves have difficulty explaining its usefulness. The website suggests it could be used as a lifesaving device, or just for any old time when you need to scale a big wall. They stop short of saying "to steal stuff or look at naked women."
The Gekkomat can hold up to a ton of weight (like if you want to steal a grand piano from a penthouse apartment, we guess), but is probably only meant for quick smash and grab jobs. Why? The tank only holds enough air for about 30 minutes of climbing.
Built-in sensors let you know when errors have occured and, says Gekkomat, "alternatives to solve the situation are offered by the computer."
Called Gasoline Skating Shoes, these babies are just what they sound like: skates powered by fuel. The skates operate with a handheld throttle, and an engine and fuel tank are handily strapped to the right skate.
Oh, yeah! Ain't nothin' that can go wrong with that!
Notice that the gas-powered engine only actually propels one foot, momentum ostensibly dragging the other one along for the ride. The kind of experts who are paid big money to point out obvious things have warned that they could cause injury or death. The inherent dangers of careening down streets with a flammable tank on your ankle aside, the inventors left out a crucial feature: the brakes.
Not to worry, though. The fact that the gas tank is made out of plastic means you would most likely be consumed in a fiery explosion anyway, negating the need to stop. Death tends to relieve those sorts of petty concerns.
Seconds later, this soccer Mom was a charred pile of flesh.
The safety experts themselves were afraid to even test the skates, most likely taking a glance, writing "Looks pretty dangerous" on a clipboard, and breaking for lunch. The skates are now illegal just about everywhere, which probably just convinced many of you to try them.
They can supposedly be found on the internet and wherever shady, dangerous things are sold. So maybe you can in fact be a part of the second-dumbest thing involving skates in history.
Roller Disco: Still #1.
At Cracked we've seen a lot of strap-on devices, so it takes an exceptionally-engineered one to raise even one of our eyebrows. To put it bluntly, what it takes is a strap-on helicopter. The engineers at Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana have answered the call.
This particular device features two hydrogen fuel tanks that propel two big, head-slicing rotor blades. The device is known as the Libelula, which we think means "Flying Guillotine" in Spanish.
While the device has only, as of now, been rendered in 3D animations, TAM has built other wacky devices (like a jet pack), so expect to see at least one of these things crashing and burning on your front lawn in the near future.
The Tam website believes it won't crash as often as a regular helicopter. "80% of the helicopter accidents are blamed to tail rotor failure that is most of the times fatal", says the designer, pointing out that this helicopter doesn't have a tail rotor. That's like pointing out that lots of car crashes are due to sudden braking, so a car without brakes is completely safe.
The site also points out that helicopter packs aren't new; they've just improved it. The idea has been around for decades. Well, no shit. It's about time science finally did something about Dr. Claw.
In cartoons, mouse catching is an art. No self-respecting animated cat would attempt to snatch a rodent without a flamethrower, an alarm clock, six or seven pulleys and a wheel of Swiss. Not to mention having a backup plan: the giant sledgehammer.
In real life, no one's improved on the beautiful simplicity of a bone-splintering square of wood with some twisted wire on it. That is, until now.
The folks at Rentokil have put their best mad scientists of extermination to work and come up with the RADAR, or Rodent Activated Detention and Riddance Unit. Call it whatever you want, for mice it's their own personal Mouseschwitz.
When a mouse enters the passageway, he activates a circuit that releases trap doors, blocking off both the entrances and trapping him in sealed chamber. Before Mickey can begin to shit his little black pants, a pressurized cylinder locks open and begins to fill the tunnel with carbon dioxide, asphyxiating the guy in 45 seconds.
If you think that's some James Bond shit, hold on to your drawers: the unit then sends you a text message letting you know the deed has been done. An actual text message, as in: OMG UR MOUSE IZ DED.
For extra fun, forward your text to PETA members.
A simultaneous text message goes to the Rentokil headquarters, which no doubt is situated on a black, craggy mountain in a choppy part of the ocean with perpetual thunder and lightning. They dispatch a couple of goons in a van to pick up the body. Seriously.
At this point we can only assume they strap the mouse to a tiny, red rocket and launch him toward the moon.
It possibly happened like this: A guy semi-dozed with a six-pack of Natural Lite in front of a Simpsons rerun, wondering if he ate the rest of those Funyuns and if it would be worth it to get up and see. He sees Bart Simpson launch a stink bomb at a guy in an Itchy costume. "Eureka!" says couch guy. "We could fling stuff into space that way."
If you're betting that this guy was an unemployed dick who bought the Idiot's Guide to Patents the next day, you'd be slightly wrong. The guy worked for the European Space Agency.
Just a couple of years ago, the ESA granted $7,000 to the University of Glasgow to study the possibility of using giant slingshots to catapult stuff into space (Yeah, Glasgow. Just substitute "Guinness" and "Sheep Rinds" for the products in the first paragraph.)
The European Space Agency hard at work.
Dr. Gianmarco Radice, head of the project pointed out that, "The cables would need to be kilometres long and have to be extremely resistant. But this could provide an efficient method of transporting goods between Earth and the moon." Thanks, Dr. Radice. We don't have any rocket scientists on the Cracked staff, so it's nice to have it explained by a professional that in order to catapult junk into space with a slingshot we'd need really long cables.
We guess it was only $7,000 (pretty sure the US military has bought toilet seats for ten times that), but still, we could have drawn up this idea on the back of a notebook for half that amount.
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