From New Scientist Technology, your ACME Inc. update

Human cannonballs

The old circus trick of firing a person from a cannon is being considered by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a way to get special forces, police officers and fire fighters onto the roofs of tall buildings in a hurry.

A ramp with side rails would be placed on the ground near the target building at an angle of about 80°. A (very brave) person would then sit in a chair, like a pilot’s ejection seat, attached to the ramp.

Compressed air from a cylinder underneath would be rapidly released to shoot the chair up the ramp’s guide rails. At the top the chair would come to an instant halt, leaving the person to fly up and over the edge of the roof, to hopefully land safely on top of the building.

Of course, the trick is to get the trajectory just right. But the DARPA patent suggests a computer could automatically devise the correct angle and speed of ascent. It also claims that a 4-metre-tall launcher could put a man on the top of a 5 storey building in less than 2 seconds. I think I’ll take the stairs.

Read the full patent here.


Insert open mind joke into this hole in my head. Please.

Tonight I was talking to nickjb about my problems finding non-insane commentary on neurofeedback, etc. and we got onto the topic of failed therapies. One of these is trepanation, otherwise known as making a hole in your skull. Ancient people did this, and sometimes survived it. Sometimes they probably even felt better.

Nick explained that there was a sixties thing where people started saying trepanation was hip and happening and it was touted for a while, and I didn’t really believe him. Color me wrong. Color me also slightly nauseous (green).

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the International Trepanation Advocacy Group. Don’t skip intro. The spacy Heavens Gate-quality film is worth a few minutes. One side effecdt of trepanation has already been identified: smooth jazz and trippy 3D rendered animation.

I know I’m mining a rich vein when their short film credits the Mutter Museum and the State Department of Health of Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

“Some of us are willing to present ourselves publicly so that the old stigma associated with making a hole in the skull will be worn down over time.”