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Innovation and Idiocy: What Went Wrong

Endeavour, Utility, Ease; Three words which spring to mind when someone utters the holy name of “science”. The desire to improve technology has long been one of man-kind’s favorite past-times, and when left in the capable hands of the professionals, it’s one of the most beneficial. However, if history has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes even the professionals get it wrong. Here are 5 of the worst – and somewhat unnecessary – inventions of the last century.

The Monowheel

Apparently two wheels was one wheel too many. The Monowheel has had many incarnations since its original conception in the late 19th century, all of which demonstrated the similar design of a single large wheel with the driver situated within.

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In 1932, the Monowheel received its first electric-powered adaption, the Dynasphere, developed and tested in the U.K by a man named John Archibald Purves, and reached a top speed of 30 miles per hour. Needless to say, the Monowheel idea didn’t really take off.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMpGJhw7JqY[/youtube]

Ridiculous.

The Emergency Folding Bridge

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Chances are that at least once in your life someone has told you to “build a bridge”. Well, with the Emergency Folding Bridge, there’s no need! Developed in the Netherlands in 1926, the easily transported Folding Bridge could be carried by travelers in hand-carts or wagons. The real question is: Why not just build an actual bridge and leave it where it is?

Curved Barrel Machine Guns

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As it turns out, watching all those cartoon military instruction films really paid off in WWII. Known as ‘Krummlauf’ in the Germanic tongue, the Curved Barrel attachment for the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle (also German, who’d have thought?) was first developed in WWII as a way of shooting targets around corners in close combat. Each attachment had a limited amount of uses, however, and so proved ultimately inefficient during war time. The concept has most recently been adapted by the Israeli Special Forces, however the only similarity is its purpose.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C0FQPk5mv0[/youtube]

Quick Draw Robots

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that cybernetic gun-slingers exist in Michael Crichton’s ‘Westworld’ and that’s the end of the matter. However, it turns out that 13 years prior to the 1973 sci-fi thriller’s big-screen debut, the notion of wild wild robots had already been explored. And built. And tested against real live people! Giving robots guns is proof enough that scientists love to tempt fate.

T.V Goggles

Dumb Inventions

Science has never been about style (Not just style, anyway). Invented in 1963 by the father of the sci-fi magazine, Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernsback’s T.V Goggles never quite got the attention or praise of the scientific world. But have no fear, it looks like Hugo’s concept is just now taking to the stage in the 21st Century, with the advent of 3D TV goggles. Is it only a matter of time before the technology is perfected? Or is this something that will just never become fashionable?