I WISH SOME­ONE WOULD IN­VENT…

Popular Science - - INVENTIONS - re­port­ing by Cici Zhang, Eleanor Cum­mins, and Mark D. Kauf­man / il­lus­tra­tions by Rami Niemi

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.

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