Fixing Nemo


Popular Science has an incredibly cool section called “You Built What?!”, in which they detail strange hardware hacks and garage-built devices. This month they’ve got the R.I.O.T. wheel, a 1,100-pound monowheel which has a big weight inside — tip the device forward and the weight rolls you forward, at speeds of up to 50 miles an hour. At the magazine’s web site you can check out the breakdown of the schematic above, or go to the web site of inventor Jake Lylall, where you can find some pretty mindblowing video of the device in action.

My favorite part: Lyall takes a wonderfully sly stab the gibbering, self-deluded venture-capitalist hype that ushered the Segway into existence. Remember how proponents boasted that the Segway would “revolutionize how cities are engineered?” On Lyall’s FAQ:

Will they “design cities around it”?

“Prediction is hard, particularly of the future.” No.

(Thanks to Slashdot for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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