Stories tagged invention

Bohmer's invention, a $5 cardboard box solar oven won the FT Climate Change Challenge, for the most innovative and practical solution to climate change.

Oct
13
2008

A long shot: This goose hunter had plenty of success using the Quiet Gun on a hunt. The extended shaft of the shotgun includes vents that slowly release gases that cause loud sounds of typical shotguns.
A long shot: This goose hunter had plenty of success using the Quiet Gun on a hunt. The extended shaft of the shotgun includes vents that slowly release gases that cause loud sounds of typical shotguns.Courtesy The Quiet Shotgun
I used to live in a small town along the Mississippi River. Each fall, on the opening day of every waterfowl-hunting season, I’d be rattled awake at sunrise with the booming of shotguns of hunters getting in their first shots of the season. To put in mildly, I was never enthused to hear the start of another hunting season.

With increased housing development of rural areas, the noise of hunting is encroaching on the quiet and relaxation of people wanting to live in the country. But Wendell Diller, a Twin Cities area hunter and inventor, has come up with a device to reduce those conflicts. Here's a link to his website about his latest invention: the Quiet Shotgun.

I saw a report on his quiet gun on a recent episode of Minnesota Bound. While the main focus of the report was on hunting mentorships for urban kids, the guns they were using in the goose hunt were Diller’s Quiet Gun shotgun. Click here to see the guns in action in the video report.

Here’s how the shotgun works.

The Quiet Gun reworks gun technology to reduce a shot gun’s usual boom to the “whoof” similar to an air-rifle. Diller likes to describe the sound as “an air-rifle on steroids.”

To do this, a barrel extension is put on to the shotgun. Along the extension are port holes that allow the high-pressure gases of the shooting action explosion to leak out along the chamber rather than erupting out in one loud belch at the end of the gun.

Buck luck: This hunter used the Quiet Gun to bag a deer.
Buck luck: This hunter used the Quiet Gun to bag a deer.Courtesy The Quiet Shotgun
The extension also greatly reduce the amount of kick a shotgun fires back into the shoulder of a hunter. How effective are these guns? Quiet Guns are being used with the group Capable Partners – a group for disabled hunters who’ve been proficient in both hunting trips and trap shooting events.

So far, the Quiet Gun is not commercially available yet. And for safety concerns, Diller strongly discourages anyone from experimenting with this new shotgun technology on their own.

So what do you think? Is this a good application of science for easing a growing problem with the outdoors sports? Will the Quiet Gun be featured in a upcoming Coen Brothers’ film? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

The NYTimes has a great piece about the potential ramifications of science's latest breakthrough discoveries: nanotechnology, robotics, geo-engineering. I used to think that just about anything we could develop, would be developed. Articles like this have helped educate me that we do have a choice as a society about where and when we allow science to go. It's an interesting read.

Are you in the market for a new car? A Swiss company this week announced that it has a $1.5 million concept car -- sQuba -- that can drive on road and under water, just like James Bond's slick ride from "The Spy Who Loved Me." Life preservers are not included.

Aug
10
2007

Nice hovercraft, dork: Get a flying saucer, then we'll talk.    (photo by Mark Bridge on Flicker.com)
Nice hovercraft, dork: Get a flying saucer, then we'll talk. (photo by Mark Bridge on Flicker.com)
Moller International has finished development on a flying saucer-like hovercraft, called the M200G.

The M200G is held aloft by eight small rotary engines, and is capable of carrying a payload of about 250 pounds. The craft is stabilized by an on-board computer system, and is piloted using a joystick. Although the vehicle could potentially fly much higher, its computer system limits the maximum altitude to 10 feet. This way, anyone who has $90,000, but no pilot’s license can still legally fly the M200G.

The M200G conveniently burns either gasoline or a mixture of ethanol and water, although it isn’t frighteningly fuel-efficient – it can travel at 50mph for about an hour, and during that time it will use 40 gallons of fuel (that’s 1.25 mpg). Also, the hovercraft emits approximately 85 decibels of sound while operating, which is about the same as a freight train running at high speed.

When asked who would likely purchase such a vehicle, a Moller spokesman gave the peculiar answer, “I don’t know,” but added the probably people who are unable to access and use land they already own - where the terrain would be prohibitive to conventional hovercrafts - might be interested.

Moller’s imagination for potential markets is woefully limited. I think the true future of the M200G lies with socialites, pro athletes, and pop stars. They certainly can afford their own flying saucers, and it seems like the sort of thing a lot of celebrities would be in to. Some of your pro football players might be slightly out of the weight range, but I for one love the idea of, say, Lindsay Lohan hovering down Hollywood Boulevard at about shoulder height in her own M200G. She could call it “Mean Girl,” or “The Decapitator.” I’m just throwing ideas out, but I can see potential there. And if there are any DUI loopholes for flying saucers, I’m sure it could be a hot seller in that crowd.

Man, why didn’t I invent this thing?

An article on the M200G.

French engineer and chemist Georges Claude died on May 23, 1960. In 1902, he invented the neon light (obviously near and dear to our hearts!) by applying electricity to a sealed tube of neon gas. Used to promote a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles, the first neon signs in the US cost $24,000.

Engineer James B. Eads, known for his bridge over the Mississippi at St. Louis, was born on May 23, 1820. The bridge wasn't his only claim to fame, though. He also invented a boat and diving bell that allowed him to run a salvage operation and made him a fortune. He also built ironclad warships for use during the Civil War, and a year-round navigation channel for New Orleans.