6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

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 ...

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6
Powdered Water

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

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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!

Actually ...

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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.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
"Refreshing!"

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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.

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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.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
And also sounds like a Christian Slater movie.

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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-

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

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Oh.

So we guess we should go looking for a pedal-powered wheelchair now?

5
The Pedal-Powered Wheelchair

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

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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.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
Granted, it'd have to be a pretty resourceful bastard with a lot of extra time.

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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).

Actually ...

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.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
Apparently, successive generations of wheelchair designers just said "to hell with those assholes."

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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.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
"Not what I thought I was ordering, but still great!"

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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.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
"How's all that walking working out for you? Loser."

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4
The Helicopter Ejection Seat

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

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 ...

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
SPLAT?

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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.

Actually ...

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:

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
"You know what this helicopter needs? MORE BLADES."

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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.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
Seems safe enough.

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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.

3
Solar-Powered Flashlight

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

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What You're Probably Thinking:

We're eventually going to find out that submarines have screen doors, aren't we?

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
Maybe there is such a thing as headlight fluid ...

After all, a flashlight that runs on solar power would come in very handy in situations when you need a flashlight not to actually light anything (since it's broad daylight), but, like, to show people that you own one or to generally be a dick. Otherwise, it's a completely useless item and yet another depressing sign that we will just buy any goddamned thing.

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Actually ...

Ask a U.S. Marine in Iraq or a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan how awesome solar-powered flashlights are -- they use them all the time. These flashlights can be charged up only during daytime, but no one says you have to use them right away. They work the same way as solar panels, collecting power and storing it for later use (as in "when it's dark"). So these are almost as good as regular flashlights, right? Wrong: They're much, much better.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
They aren't quite as good for clubbing unruly hippies, though.

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For the troops, letting the flashlight charge itself during the day is much more practical than having to carry (and dispose of) a bunch of stupid batteries. And rechargeable flashlights don't help you much in a country where electricity is scarce and unreliable.

But that's not even the main reason solar-powered flashlights are so awesome: that would be the fact that they help poor people in Africa not explode:

They also allow them to work after sunset, do schoolwork and see where they're going without treading on anything that might bite their legs off, but the not exploding part is definitely the highlight for us. It goes like this: Loads of African people have no electricity and therefore must rely on old petroleum generators for light and power. These generators are in pretty shitty condition, and since they're maintained by pretty much whoever happens to be standing in their proximity, they tend to blow up. Like, a lot.

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So, come sundown, the people have two options: make their way through darkness and possibly stumble on a sleeping African lion, or flip a light switch that may or may not have been rigged with a bomb. What do you do? What do you do?

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
It's the sort of conundrum Keanu Reeves might find himself in.

BoGo Lights spares them that choice by giving away one solar-powered flashlight to poor people in Africa (or U.S. troops, if you prefer that) for every purchased one.

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Holy shit, is there anything else out there we should feel bad for mocking?

2
Inflatable Anchor

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

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What You're Probably Thinking:

Ahh, another classic from Grandma's corny joke email forwards. Let's see: an anchor is intended to sink, and all inflatable things are intended to float. We're absolutely, 100 percent confident that no one could ever figure out a way to make this idea work, because clearly we haven't been paying any attention to this article.

Actually ...

Not only do they work, but under certain conditions, inflatable anchors can be more effective than regular ones. You know, those extremely heavy things made out of metal that you would totally trust over a piece of plastic filled with air.

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Real inflatable anchors are widely used as anchoring methods for sea areas with a bottom composed of sand or soft clay, where ordinary anchors struggle to find hold. So how the hell do they work? It's simple logic, really: If you fill the anchor with air before sinking it, it will be completely useless, but if you bury it deep in the soil and then inflate it, it will lodge so hard into the ground that its pullout resistance will be superior to that of a regular anchor.

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Not only that, they're also easier to retrieve, since all you have to do is take the air out and suddenly that impressive pullout resistance disappears. The anchor is able to come out as easily as it went in, probably giving the soil some excuse about having to get up early in the morning.

OK, so this system is way too impractical to use in your average fishing boat. We admit it. That's why inflatable anchors are mainly used for less-exciting stuff, like securing giant offshore structures and remote-controlled science robots.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
And you can buy one now for just $69.99.

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1
Doggles

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

What You're Probably Thinking:

Goggles for dogs? Seriously? You can find this invention in countless wacky articles about ridiculous inventions. And rightfully so. Fashion accessories for pets are the stupidest, most useless human invention in history and the main reason your dog secretly hates you.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
Ninety percent of the dogs in these types of photos are contemplating eating your face.

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At least, say, a sweater or little dog boots could be claimed to have some application (maybe your dog gets cold? And you don't want him tracking shit into your house?), but if you saw Paris Hilton walking a dog that's wearing strap-on sunglasses, you'd weep for Western civilization. Just look at the fucking Doggles website:

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As seen on Regis and Kelly indeed.

Actually ...

The thing is, Doggles aren't meant for your dog. They're utility goggles for search-and-rescue dogs, police dogs and even military dogs.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
Like Lt. Col. Ruffles here.

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What shielded war dogs' eyes from the effects of desert sandstorms in Iraq and Afghanistan? Doggles. In the aftermath of 9/11, what protected the search-and-rescue dogs from being eye-raped by dangerous debris dust? You guessed it: fuckin' Doggles. Feel silly for making fun of them yet? That's because Doggles have done more for mankind than you ever will.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
So has this dog. And that red thing, whatever it is.

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Sure, the company that makes them also sells pink Chihuahua sunglasses, but the thing to remember here is that Doggles as fashion items are just an unfortunate byproduct. They are sold for pet owners much in the same way Hummers are sold for civilian use -- as unnecessary gadgets for schmucks with way too much money and no sense of ridicule whatsoever.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
Like this stupid bitch.

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But not all goggles-wearing dogs are the victims of obliviously cruel owners: Doggles can be used to help dogs with eye conditions, too. In one case, they saved the life of a dog that can't produce tears, a painful condition that's usually resolved with a one-way trip to the vet.

6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts
We'll stop making fun of dogs in party hats, too, just in case.

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Pauli is a freelance writer who may or may not be secretly amazing. Visit him at The Unpronounceable, or have a go at his other Cracked articles here.

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