Much like Rick Moranis in 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' or Christopher Llyod in the 'Back to the Future' trilogy, real life has its own share of slightly unhinged yet borderline genius inventors. Once in a blue moon or so, one of these men will prove his worth and invent something irrefutably important to today's society, like Thomas Edison with the phonograph, or Alexander Graham Bell with text messaging. Most inventors however,are more likely to spend time burning their eyebrows and alienating their neighbours than achieving anything of genuine worth. It is for these people, these wannabe DaVincis, these chemistry set Carvers and bumbling Babbages, that this is dedicated. For all of you whose lightening-strike epiphany was never realised, here is your moment to shine. Here, is the definitive list of the most incredibly stupid inventions ever.
1. Erm....A Unicorn
Patented in the United States (where else), this is by far the most obscure example on the list. The invention itself is described as a "method of growing unicorns in a manner that enhances the overall development of the animal". Sound fucked up? You haven't heard the half of it!
The man/myth/legend behind this idea is a Dr W. Franklin Dove, a biologist at the University of Maine and a passionate advocate of messing around with nature and giving God's will the middle finger. Without going into intensely graphic detail, the basis of Dove's idea involved operating on a week old goat (not to be confused with a weak, old goat) in order to manipulate its two horn buds into one. This brings us to ask several questions. Firstly; at which point did animal mutilation become an invention? And secondly; why the hell would you want a uni-goat anyway? Apparently, in response to the latter question, Dove thought the procedure would increase the animal's intelligence and that a one horned goat would make a rather useful guard animal. He also, secretly hoped that the animal would develop wings, and fly him to a land where pixies play in fields of clover and little boys never grow old...possibly.
The patent for this invention expired a while back, so we can now all feel free to try and turn any animal we like into a unicorn. What makes this genuinely shocking is that it actually works (see photo), but that doesn't make it right! I couldn't find out what became of Dr Dove. Rumour has it amongst the scientific community that the good doctor was found dead one morning in his bedchamber. His penis had been stitched to his head in an obscure tribute to his work and a mysterious hooded figure, accompanied by a one horned goat, were seen fleeing the crime scene.
For more information on this whack job procedure, on the off-chance that you have a few hours and a spare goat to kill: http://v3.espacenet.com/textdoc?CY=ep&LG=en&IDX=US4429685&QPN=US4429685
2. The Marine Mammal Communication Device
Never, EVER assume that anyone affiliated with Walt Disney is of sound mind. Apparently after the success of 1989's 'The Little Mermaid' and various other 'talking animal' films, the bigwigs at the Walt Disney Company (who had evidently celebrated the film's success by smoking crack and dropping acid, until their eyes bled and their lobster dinner started singing to them) decided that communicating with sea life was a worthwhile endeavour.
This led to a meeting of minds from some of the finest marine scientists in California and Florida, who had previously been spending their time board shaping, and trying to figure out a way to purify the smoke from their homemade bottle bongs (think 'Point Break' with scientists instead of cops). What they came up with was described as a communication device that "enables marine mammals, such as dolphins, to communicate with humans and with each other". Now, I can hear you all saying "Can't dolphins already communicate with each other? Isn't that why they make those high pitched squeaking sounds?". Well try telling that to Disney, they'll laugh in your face and continue to draw a duck in a towel, because that's just the way they roll.
The outcome of this brainstorming was for all intents and purposes a giant underwater keyboard. The theory behind this is as follows; 'scientists' can play notes to the dolphins, who can then swim through lasers to activate notes of
their own, which in turn are relayed back to the 'scientists'....or something like that, I don't really know, I got bored reading about it. In theory this is as sound as a pound. The only real problems started to occur when the communications began:
Imagine, if you will; three scientists sat around a computer sending a melody out through their underwater keyboard. Eventually, after weeks, maybe months of waiting, their message is returned. There is a communal gasp and an eerie silence in the lab, this was the big moment;
"What did it say?", asks one scientist barely able to hide his excitement.
"Yes, or a Gb, depends which way you look at it"
There's another pause as the scientists try to comprehend what this could mean.
"oh fuck this, let's go and unfreeze Walt's head again".
The scientists, I assume, quickly became bored and realising their endeavour was pointless attempted to teach chimpanzees the opening riff from 'Smoke on the Water'.
For those of you interested enough:
United States Patent US5392735
3. Smoker's Hat
Remember the day's when smoking was cool? The days before we knew of the irreparable damage that it does to your body. The days when cigarettes were associated with the likes of James Dean and Audrey Hepburn, not emphysema and lung cancer. Well, as if doctors haven't already done enough to convince us that smoking is neither big nor clever, some genius decided to invent something that would squeeze the vary last gasps of cool from our favourite bad habit. May I present to you; 'The Smoker's Hat'.
'The Smoker's Hat' is a piece of headgear invented in order to allow people to smoke without affecting those around them. "Well wait a minute", I pretend to hear you say, "this may actually be a good idea. If this thing exists then why was the smoking ban introduced at all? Surely we could all just wear smoker's hats and sit in the comfort of the local pub?" This would be true, if the smoker's hat didn't look something like this (see picture). And everyone in the world would rather stand out in the cold than be the dick who paid for one of these.
It's an embarrassment. Even if it looked cool, it wouldn't be, because of the simple fact that all smoking related fashion-accessories fail to catch on. Look at the 'Iron Lung'; once tipped to be the next big thing, like the Pokemon or drink-driving, it turned out to be little more than a cumbersome tank that assists breathing. It lacks style and integrity, as does the hat. It's also impractical. Am I really supposed to take the time to put this on after a heated spell of sexual sparring for the all important post-coital ciggy?
There is a positive element to the 'Smoker's Hat' however; it filters all of your smoky air, and releases it instead as a scented gust of smoke free guff. Basically it is a huge fucking exhaust, but with this is mind you can quite happily smoke weed, crack, or crystal meth without anyone thinking twice about it. They'll just assume you're some bloke with a funny hat and no friends, who continually squirts perfume out of his noggin.
Similar inventions I found include the 'Quit Smoking Ashtray", which apparently reminds you that's smoking is bad every time you go to stub out your ciggy. Because obviously, we need a reminder. This is the equivalent of a gun that screams "bullets hurt" every time you fire it, or a condom that slyly whispers "It'll feel better without me....but you could catch V.D" just before sex. We conclude that anyone who buys this ashtray is a sadist, anyone who buys the smokers hat is an idiot, and anyone who is still reading this should probably have nipped out for a fag instead.
*The picture of the smoking hat is an artists impression and is not representative of the original design.