Have you heard the one about the screen door on the submarine? Or nonstick duct tape? Really stupidly pointless or impossible inventions have been a comedy staple since, well, the first time somebody invented something that didn't work.
So imagine our surprise when we found out how many ridiculous subjects of countless hack comedy routines not only exist but are actually really useful. Like ...
#6. Powdered Water
What You're Probably Thinking:
"Ha! Powdered water! What do you add to it?" Yes, this hilarious hypothetical invention has been included in classic joke email forwards about "Dumb Blonde Inventions," and the list itself probably predates the Internet by decades. It's right on there alongside the other ludicrous self-contradicting inventions, like the "solar-powered flashlight," "pedal-powered wheel chair" and the "helicopter ejection seat." LOL! Thanks for forwarding, Grandma!
It's totally a real thing. Powdered water is tiny droplets of water encapsulated in what's basically a grain of sand. It looks and feels dry, but it's actually 95 percent liquid.
Scientists are calling it "dry water" in a futile attempt to make it sound less ridiculous, but then they ruin it by saying something like, "Hopefully, we may see 'dry water' making waves in the future." But what exactly is this good for? We can't see a marathon runner throwing a pile of sand into his mouth in the middle of a race.
Well, apparently, it's going to help stop global warning.
At least that's what the scientists are hoping, and it looks like they have good reason to: Dry water turns out to be pretty good at soaking up gases, making it the ideal candidate for research into ways to remove stuff like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In fact, dry water can store three times more CO2 than its separate components.
And also sounds like a Christian Slater movie.
Actually, we have no idea what that means, but smarter people than us assure us that it's a pretty big deal. And since sand and water are super easy to come by, dry water could very well become a cost-effective way of keeping in check CO2 emissions that would otherwise be free to wreak havoc on the ozone layer.
We know what you're wondering: What about other dangerous greenhouse gases, such as methane? Fuck methane -- dry water absorbs that, too. Not only that, water-drying technology is advancing so well that soon it may be applied to liquids other than water, such as oil, though we're not sure what practical use soaking up oil could-
So we guess we should go looking for a pedal-powered wheelchair now?
#5. The Pedal-Powered Wheelchair
What You're Probably Thinking:
Seriously? Because at a glance this appears to be the ultimate "fuck you" to anyone confined to a wheelchair. Only a complete bastard would add bike pedals to something specifically designed for people who can't use their legs.
Granted, it'd have to be a pretty resourceful bastard with a lot of extra time.
Alternatively, this can be a way for the growing community of douchebags who use wheelchairs despite not really needing them to feel slightly better about themselves by occasionally strapping the bike pedals to the chair and using them to get some exercise (instead of just, you know, standing up and walking).
Not every wheelchair-bound person is 100 percent paraplegic, you know. Like all injuries, spinal cord ones can vary in severity; some cause incomplete paraplegia, which means quite a few people in wheelchairs still retain at least some use of their legs. And until recently, those people had to settle for chairs that are actually made with complete paraplegics in mind.
Apparently, successive generations of wheelchair designers just said "to hell with those assholes."
That's where the Pedalofit comes in -- it allows people with partial leg use to move independently, as long as they manage to inquire about the product name being arrested.
"Not what I thought I was ordering, but still great!"
Not only that: Even if someone with incomplete paraplegia can't move his legs, there's a pretty good chance that, with enough work, some day he might. The Pedalofit and other pedal wheelchairs can help these people in their rehabilitation process, not to mention muscle atrophy patients and those suffering from balance disorders. Most of these people have legs that more or less work -- just because you can't walk doesn't mean your legs are dead.
Of course, that doesn't mean there won't be other people who buy these just because they're lazy, or want to look cool.
"How's all that walking working out for you? Loser."
#4. The Helicopter Ejection Seat
What You're Probably Thinking:
What, this, too? How can this exist anywhere but in particularly gruesome slapstick? So the pilot presses the eject button, his or her seat is pushed upward, and then ...
Seriously, the only way someone could possibly come up with a helicopter ejection seat is if he's criminally incompetent or is writing background gags for Hot Shots! Part Treux.
Helicopter ejection seats aren't just real: They are also fucking awesome. Invented by the Russians (who else?), they've been incorporated into the monstrous Kamov KA-50 Black Shark helicopter since 1995:
"You know what this helicopter needs? MORE BLADES."
Unlike those lame-ass airplane ejection seats (and the occasional helicopter that comes with a "drop seat"), the Black Shark doesn't just push its pilot into the air -- it does so while simultaneously causing a huge explosion. The dual rotor blades of the machine are fastened to the hub with explosive bolts, which means that they are blown the fuck away in the split second between the pilot pressing the eject button and shooting headfirst into the sky.
Seems safe enough.
And it works, apparently. Sure, you're left with a burning helicopter filled with explosive weaponry and the aerodynamics of a boulder, but as long as you don't land in the huge burning crater it's gonna leave in the ground, you should be OK.
If there's one way we should be more like the Russians, it's this; they're the only ones who would think to solve a safety problem with explosions.