After a year when everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, it's not surprising that a few Nervous Nellies have gone into apocalypse mode. Most of us can't afford to escape a future doomsday by hunkering down in a bunker or circling the planet on a space station or building the world's most kickass treehouse, but we can afford a few gadgets to make us feel better about the fact that the earth is definitely mad at us and wants to kill us all very soon.
While here in America we can usually walk down the street without worrying that a bomb is going to drop right on our head (at least until Civil War 2.0: The Trumpening), that isn't true in a lot of Middle Eastern countries where day-to-day life is a lot more explode-y. But people there can rest easy if they shell out $375 for Rhino Skin: a hooded backpack made of 19 layers of Kevlar. Simply lay down when the bombs start falling and all of your vital organs will be protected. Of course, just because you can live without some of your non-vital organs doesn't make that the ideal situation, and a direct hit will still render the wearer a limbless head and torso with some serious flesh wounds. But hey! It has a hood!
This isn't the first time someone has managed to come up with the bare minimum to protect fragile human bodies against catastrophic events. In 1986, as the Cold War was winding down, the U.S. issued a patent for a tent that you set up over a hole. Considering this "single membrane plastic" tent was supposed to keep radioactive particles from killing you dead during a nuclear incident, perhaps "hole" is the wrong word; "grave" is probably more accurate.
But some people do owe their lives to flimsy pieces of kit. Firefighters battling forest fires sometimes find themselves too close to the blaze without a safe exit. In this kind of emergency, they can shake out a fire shelter, a kind of tent/sleeping bag made from aluminum foil and fiberglass. Individuals lay face down inside and basically pray to every god they can think of and a few they made up, because if they raise their head even a little the air can be so hot it will fry their lungs. Then they have to try and hold themselves down against winds that can gust at over 50 mph and send them and their fire shelter flying. And even if they do make it, they might have the trauma of knowing someone right next to them didn't, or as one survivor said, "If you hear anything at all, the things you hear you don't want to hear." That's firefighter code for "the screams still keep me up at night."
No, this isn't a joke. Believe us, we checked. Dr. Elena Bodnar, like many of the inventors on this list, was inspired to make the RAD Emergency Bra after witnessing the fallout from a disaster. In her case, it was the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine. After seeing the effect that radiation poisoning had on the victims, she must have decided that any amount of looking ridiculous was preferable. So she started on her 20-year quest to perfect her idea. In 2009, she even won the (somewhat) prestigious Ig Nobel Prize for her creation: a bra whose cups separate and can be turned into two gas masks. That means men don't have to worry they will die, as long as they have a lady around and call dibs on the left boob. These days it sells up to a 44D for $49.99 but in red only, so you'll have to plan ahead on what matching shirt you need to wear in an emergency.
For less than the cost of a Victoria's Secret equivalent, you can have both underwire support and life-saving protection. The bra cups are made up of five filtration layers, which comes to three-eighths of an inch so you also get some decent padding. The straps wrap around your head holding it fast over your mouth. The bow in front even holds a radiation sensor. The frilly edge is just there to make you look cute.
And just because you don't live next to a nuclear reactor is no reason to pass on this product: It promises to filter all kinds of air pollutants from explosions, fires, volcanoes, bombs, chemical spills, and gas leaks. But that should be your secondary reason for buying it. Or as the inventor said, "I want women to realize that it's first and foremost a beautiful, sexy piece of lingerie."
While those of us who own small dogs love them like our children, to others they look like nature's appetizer. And the threat is very real, as poor Paul Mott discovered in 2014. After a lovely day playing at the dog park with his dog Buffy, Mott was walking back to the car when a coyote ran out from a bush, grabbed innocent little Buffy, and ran off with her (no word on if the coyote's name was Spike.) This obviously traumatized Mott, who decided no one should ever have to see their puppy dragged off to be eaten. So instead he came out with an outfit that will save them from all danger, because when you put them in it they will refuse to show their face in public. Even dogs have some pride.
The Coyote Best Pet Body Armor vest is made from Kevlar to stop puncture wounds. Then Mott added long thin spikes along the spine, just in case the dog was attacked from above. And to further protect its sides, he decided to go balls to the wall and run a current through the thing, so that anything that goes in for the kill will get a hell of a shock, literally. Of course, so would any dogs trying to play with it, or humans who reach down to pet this strange punk dog, but nothing's perfect.
With a starter pack costing $110, Mott says it's hard to convince people they need to protect their dogs until something has already happened. But we still think it's more about the giant neon spikes.
We don't want to paint all gun owners with a broad brush here, so we'll start out by saying that many people who own guns are sensible people who keep them safely stored and use them for hunting or take them to firing ranges. Then there are the people who arm themselves to the teeth because they think one day someone, possibly the government, is going to swoop down on their house and try to steal their liberty. What if this happened while they were quietly sitting in their living room watching TV? Well, if this could be you, you never have to worry about it again, as long as you are willing to sacrifice style and comfort and $7,000.
Couchbunker is a couch that also doubles as a... bunker... for your guns. All 40 of them if need be. Simply jump up, throw off the cushions, and open up the top for full access to your arsenal. Then grab one of the cushions, thread your arm through the handy straps, and fend off your attackers Captain America-style. Oh, didn't we mention? The couch, cushions included, are bulletproof, even at point-blank range.
But what if Uncle Sam is sneaky and comes for you in the middle of the night? That's where your $2,200, 1300-pound, 10-gauge steel Bedbunker comes in. If your Couchbunker is full you can fit another 32 rifles or 70 (!!!) handguns under your mattress. It can even withstand up to 1533 degrees for two hours, so if your house burns down at least you still have dozens of guns to get you through that tough time.
For sane, rational people who understand that evolution didn't give humans wings for a reason, getting on a plane is terrifying. No matter how technologically advanced we get, plane crashes still happen, with part of the problem being that when you are 35,000 feet up and something bad happens to a giant hunk of metal, there isn't a very graceful way to get down.
Until now, that is. A Ukrainian inventor has introduced a concept for a plane with a detachable cabin. The idea is that the pilots can eject all the passengers and luggage, which will then float down to the ground with the help of parachutes. Right away, there are some obvious flaws to this plan, like what happens to the poor pilots? And without a cockpit or wings, the cabin could land absolutely anywhere, and not always on a flat surface. What if you had to bail out over mountains or a large city, for example?
Then there is the fact that it might not actually make air travel any safer. That's because the plane itself would be less stable since it would be two sections held together instead of one solid lump. Finally, there is the astronomical cost this would entail, which in the end would only save a statistically small number of people and probably force you to sell a kidney just to visit your family for Thanksgiving.
But maybe you aren't so high up. Maybe when disaster strikes you just find yourself on the top floor of a skyscraper. That's where the SOS Parachute comes in. As long as you are at least 11 stories up, have enough time to get through the 28-point checklist for safe use, and haven't forgotten to inspect and repack your chute every six months, you can feel perfectly safe throwing yourself off the building. If you have the balls, it's not a terrible idea, although it doesn't help that in the demo video the creators make it look less like a useful piece of equipment that might honestly have saved some lives during 9/11, and more like an excuse to stop traffic so they could BASE jump.
Aerospace engineer Julian Sharpe saw what happened during the 2011 Japanese tsunami and decided there was a niche market for people who don't want to die in giant waves. So he put his skills to good use and made a "Tsunami ball," a capsule designed to withstand fire, debris, and being tossed around in the ocean, that will protect you when the big one comes. The balls range in size from one person to seating four or six; just in case almost drowning wasn't fun enough, now you can attempt to live in an unbelievably small enclosed space smelling other people's stress farts and trying not to kill each other until help arrives. Sharpe tested it by throwing himself over Niagara Falls, so you can't say he's not dedicated to the idea. Of course, at $15,000 for a two-person ball, it might be infinitely cheaper to just evacuate when you're told to. Or just die.
But what about surviving the earthquake that triggered the tsunami? If you grew up near a fault line you'll remember having drills in elementary school where you would get under your desk, sort of always knowing that its flimsy plywood wouldn't do much good when the whole place collapsed around you. Fortunately, these days it is different. The 2010 Haitian earthquake inspired designers Arthur Brutter and Ido Bruno to come up with a table that was light enough for two children to lift but can withstand one ton of debris falling on it. It looks a little claustrophobic, but it's nothing compared to Chinese inventor Wang Wenxi's idea for an earthquake-proof bed. This metal tomb opens up and sucks you down once the ground starts shaking, which unfortunately looks a lot like Johnny Depp being pulled into his bed in A Nightmare On Elm Street.
It also assumes that we all sleep exactly in the center of our beds, and won't flail around as we plummet, getting our limbs stuck in the sliding metal.
And if you're one of those people who lives in the middle of the country, safe from tsunamis and most earthquakes, you still have tornadoes to worry about. That's where the Tuuli Armor Tornado Shield comes in. If you don't have the money for a tornado shelter or are out driving when one suddenly appears, you simply unroll this 12-pound bag and hop inside. It can fit two adults and one child, which, if you have the average two-child family, means someone is going to find out the hard way they aren't the favorite. And if you're wondering how encasing yourself in a bag is supposed to save you from being tossed around by the tornado, the short answer is that it doesn't. Nor does it promise to protect you from broken bones caused by heavy debris. All it is meant to do is keep you from getting hit by small objects, which helps a little, but will be small comfort when you find yourself in Oz with a broken back.
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: the monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand new relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex.
On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of 'Sex at Dawn', onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion about love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think.
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