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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Top 10 Objects That Were Clearly Invented Just to Annoy Physics

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10 Objects That Were Clearly Invented Just to Annoy Physics

10. The Gomboc

The gomboc is what mathematicians like to call amono-monostatic object,” which

is a fancy way of saying that its impossible to put this thing down the wrong way. If you

do, it will right itself like its full of angry, obsessive-compulsive ghosts.

This may not sound impressive until you realize that theres literally only one way you

can put this thing down on a flat surface. Regardless of how you place the gomboc it

will always revert back to its singular point of equilibrium thanks to some clever math.

And, well, thats about all it does.

In other words, the gombocs only practical purpose is demonstrating what a gomboc is,

which would be fine if it didnt cost 2oo Euros. Theres no way to justify spending

that kind of money just to be able to be annoy people by betting them they cant turn this

thing upside down, unless youre betting them a significant amount of money.

9. The Rattleback

Like the gomboc, the rattleback is a shape that was designed seemingly just to make people

accuse you of being a wizard. Its a small, elliptical object that can only be spun either

clockwise or counter-clockwise, depending on its design. If you try to spin a rattleback

in the opposite direction it will actively resist the motion and then turn in the direction

its intended to go, because suck on that, physics.

Watch it in action and try to tell us it doesnt look like a cheap effect from a crappy horror

movie. Amazingly, rattlebacks arent the result of scientists working tirelessly in

a lab, or mathematicians trying to solve a long-standing equationpeople have been

using these things as toys for thousands of years.

Though scientists have kind of figured out how rattlebacks work, the fact that theyre

able to completely reverse their direction is so unbelievable that its not uncommon

for scientists to assume theyre the work of trickery when first seeing them. Like this

guy who went out and made his own when he saw one on TV because he couldnt believe

it until he saw it first hand.

8. The Uphill Water Fountain

The uphill water fountain is the brain-child of engineer James Dyson (yes, the vacuum cleaner

guy). According to Dyson, he created the sculpture purely to see if it could be done, and it

took him just over a year to build it.

Revealed in 2003, Dysons water sculptureaptly namedWrong Garden” — immediately

drew the attention of the media when no one present was able to adequately explain how

Dyson had managed to make the water flow uphill against the force of gravity. The secret was

that it used compressed air to pump water uphill. To create the illusion that the water

was flowing naturally, the pressurized water was sandwiched between two sheets of clear

plastic and the upper layer had a thin film of water running down it. The end result was

a babbling brook that appeared to flow naturally uphill like it wasnt no thing, and a bunch

of people scratching their heads wondering out loud how the illusion was accomplished.

7. One Way Bulletproof Glass

Considering that the only real purpose of bulletproof glass is to stop you from being

shot to death, it shouldnt surprise you to learn that its tougher to crack than

an egg laid by a diamond hen. But then you have glass thats only bulletproof from

one side. This isnt a theoretical prototype or a pipe dream of a mad scientist, its

a real thing that exists today and is super cool.

The reason unidirectional ballistic glass is such a mind-screw for physicists is because

its able to maintain its structural integrity while being shot at from two different directions

at the same time. It simultaneously allows bullets to pass through one way while striking

down the bullets heading from the opposite direction like a planar Gandalf.

The secret to the glass lies in its composition. One side is covered in a thin sheet of polycarbonate,

while the other side is covered in a thick sheet of bulletproof acrylic. Bullets fired

from the acrylic side are immediately flattened on impact, robbing them of the energy theyd

need to penetrate the glass, while bullets fired from the other side are caught by the

polycarbonate first, which doesnt deform them and allows them to pass through unscathed.

Which is just a long way of saying that the people who invented this found a way of turning

unicorn tears into a window.

6. The Effortless Wood Splitting Axe

If we could point to a single reason why lumberjacks are portrayed as barrel-chested, beard sporting

woodsmen who could just as easily crush a mans head with their bare hands as they

could cup a newborn baby squirrel in them, its splitting wood. Along with requiring

an immense amount of upper body strength, splitting wood also requires keen hand-eye

coordination and a surprising amount of technique. In short, its really, really hard. Unless

you happen to use this axe.

Designed by Finnish inventer Heikki Kärnä, the Leveraxe uses a wedged design that shifts

its center of gravity ever so slightly to the side. That means the axe will almost never

randomly deflect off of a particularly tough piece of wood because all of the energy is

dissipated graduallyas opposed to being violently redirected at your groin. Thanks

to this, splitting wood with the Leveraxe is way easier than it is with a regular axe

to the point where even an untrained jackass could hold their own against a seasoned woodsman.

5. The Machine That Cooks Ice Cream

Imagine a machine thats capable of hiding an entire scoop of ice cold ice cream inside

of a freshly cooked, piping hot French pastry. We didnt just describe something from Gods

kitchenit really exists.

Aptly dubbed the Oxymoron Maker 2, it was invented and designed by Andreu Carulla during

his tenure at a famed Spanish restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca. As much as wed love

to explain how it works, we cant because Carulla has refused to license it. As a result,

the only way to see it in action is to physically to go to Spain. All we know for sure is that

the machine is somehow capable of sealing a blob of ice cream inside a fresh brioche

in seconds, without compromising the taste of either. Oh, and its partly made of bamboo.

You could probably reverse engineer one just based on that information, right?

4. The Glass That Tells You Whats Inside It

The main problem with drinking from a clear glass tumbler is that it often fails to properly

advertise your beverage of choice to others. Sure, they could ask you, or make an educated

guess based on the color of the liquid, but wouldnt it be better if the glass magically

displayed the name of what it contained? If you found yourself slowly nodding your head

during the latter part of that sentence, you may wish to invest in a set of Cipher drinking


The Cipher appears to be nothing more than a regular drinking glass thats been decorated

with thousands of tiny dots. But when you pour something into the glass some of the

dots disappear, spelling out the name of whatever drink you chose like some sort of liquid witchcraft.

And before you ask, yes, it can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, seemingly for no other

reason than the designer anticipating that everyone would try that. If you put one of

these in front of us and showed us it in action, youd leave that room with our wallet.

Were just going to cut to the chase with this entrythe Mighty Mug is a punch-proof

travel mug.

Using what the inventors refer to asSmartgrip Technology,” the Mighty Mug is practically

impossible to knock over once its placed on a suitable surface. It requires no force

whatsoever to moveyou just pick it up like a regular mug. However, while its

attached to a surface, the Mighty Mug can be knocked, shaken or even punched and it

wont move an inch. How does it tell the difference between someone trying to gently

pick it up and an elbow nudging it towards a brand new Macbook? We have no idea, but

our current working theory is either elves or a particularly one-sided deal with Satan.

Theres no fancy trick or hidden button you need to press to make it stay in place,

it just does because the Mighty Mug has no time to mess around. You could even stick

it to a vertical surface and then punch it if you really wanted to.

Now, were not saying you have to go out and buy one of these things, because theyre

friends by putting it next to their laptop and punching it.

2. Super-hydrophobic Spray

Without getting too technical, once a given object has been covered with a super-hydrophobic

coating itliterally cannot be touched by liquid.” As long as the coating remains

in place it will repel any and all liquid it comes into contact with. Thats not us

being hyperbolic, thats a direct quote from a company selling such a product and,

as we all know, companies never lie about the capabilities of the things they sell (now

were being hyperbolic).

Sinceour product can literally repel any and all liquidis a bold claim, many of

the companies making super-hydrophobic sprays have released videos demonstrating exactly

what the product can do. In this video you can see materials repelling water, wet cement,

paint, mud and oil. Theres a second video where they throw even more crap at objects

coated in this stuff just to film it sliding off like they were recently scrubbed with

orphan tears.

Sadly, super-hydrophobic sprays (or at least the good ones) can only be purchased for commercial

use. Although thats probably for the best, because if we had access to a can of this

stuff wed spend all day spraying it on our socks so we could keep them on when we

went swimming.

1. Starlite

Starlite is a heat-resistant plastic invented back in the80s by hairdresser Maurice

Ward. But dont let that description fool you into thinking Starlites a joke, because

it could easily change the worldif anyone knew how to make it.

According to Ward, he was driven to invent Starlite in 1985 after witnessing the aftermath

of the British Airtours Flight 28M disaster. Several dozen people died when their plane

caught fire on the runway, which inspired Ward to try and create a substance that simply

couldnt burn. And he apparently succeeded.

In one famous experiment, Ward coated a raw egg in it and then placed it three inches

away from a lit blowtorch. Five minutes later the egg was cracked open to reveal that it

was still completely raw.

Many were skeptical of the lofty claims Ward made about Starlite (named at the request

of his granddaughter), but experiment after experiment seemed to confirm everything Ward

claimed. Scientists have exposed Starlite to everything from high-powered lasers to

the equivalent of a nuclear flash without damaging it, or even burning it or producing

smoke. Experts have theorized that Starlite could be hugely beneficial.

Unfortunately, Ward was paranoid about his idea being stolen. Although he was happy for

people to experiment with Starlite, he never actually licensed it to anyone. Thats not

to say people didnt tryWard spent years talking with defense contractors, private

companies and even NASA, but nothing ever came of any of them because Ward refused to

sign confidentiality agreements, even when hundreds of millions of dollars were on the

table. In the end, Ward took the secret of Starlite to his grave in 2011, leaving behind

thousands of annoyed scientists. We guess thats almost as great of a legacy as a

world-changing plastic.

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