I WISH SOMEONE WOULD INVENT…
A Force-Field Umbrella to Stop Rain
ADRIENNE ANGELOS VIA FACEBOOK
An energy field that halts your enemy—or a downpour—would be neat. But given that it defies gravity, it belongs solely to the world of science-fiction, according to Caltech physicist Philip Hopkins. However, you might be able to feign a force field, he says, by positioning lenses at various angles so they bend light and make an umbrella appear invisible, thus stopping rain and inciting awe. Hopkins has made similar “invisible” objects, but no one has found a way to perform the trick with an umbrella—yet.
Roads That Never Need Plowing
ALLAN YOUNG VIA FACEBOOK
Christopher Tuan, a civil engineer at the University of Nebraska, has already cleared a path for snow-melting roads. He figured a way to lay conductive metals—such as steel shavings—on top of existing asphalt roads, hook them to power poles, flip a switch, and turn them into snow- and ice-busting griddles. You might land on one soon: The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to test the design on airport runways. Snow-prone states, like Tuan’s Nebraska, could be next.
A Way to Redistribute Excess Rainfall to Drought-Stricken Areas
JOE BROWN (EIC OF POPSCI) VIA SLACK
Nearly every water-ferrying proposal flounders on the same challenge: Water weighs a ton. Literally. A cubic meter of it—the size of a washing machine—tips the scales at 2,000 pounds. A convoy of trucks or cargo ships carrying the stuff might quench a short-term thirst. But the fuel costs, says David Cwiertny, a civil engineer at Iowa State University, would sink your efforts. A hundreds-mile-long canal would also work, but it would take at least five years to finish. By then, your drought might be over.