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Unusual Inventions and Objects These inventions and objects are a bit odd, whimsical, or something you would not expect to find in many famous Encyclopædias.

Aglet: The largely unacknowledged invention which revolutionised shoelaces.

Ampelmännchen: The East German "traffic-light little-man" ("Ampel männchen").

Blue Peacock: A secret British chicken powered nuclear weapon.

Brannock Device: The foot-measuring device found in shoe stores everywhere.

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   Unusual Inventions and Objects

British Rail flying saucer: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the 10:13 to Venus.

Canard Digérateur: Or "Digesting Duck", an automaton built to simulate a duck eating, digesting, and excreting.

Cat organ: A keyboard instrument in which the keys cause cats to miaow.

Centennial Light: A hundred-year-old light bulb that has been burning nonstop for 30 years.

Chicken gun: Valuable for the mitigation of damage from bird strikes. The chicken carcass must be thawed first, though.

Digital sundial: Unlike an analog sundial, a clock that indicates the current time with numerals formed by the sunlight striking it.

Dreamachine: A device made with a light bulb and a record turntable that reportedly induces lucid dreaming. (And you thought the makers of Die Another Day made it up. There's still no news about invisible Aston Martin V12 Vanquishes.)

Dymaxion car: A 1933 concept car with 3 wheels. It was 20 feet (6.1 m) long, carried up to 11 passengers, could go at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour (190 km/h), and had a steering wheel that turned the car in the opposite direction.

Electronic voice phenomenon: Alleged spiritual voices heard in white noise and radio interference.

Fictional elements, isotopes and atomic particles: Not actual periodic elements. Many end in '-ite'. Some of the elements may indeed be minerals.

Marvin Heemeyer: Why it's always a bad idea to put the guy next door out of business if he has a ten-ton armor-plated bulldozer in his garage.

History of perpetual motion machines: The concept has eluded and baffled the greatest minds for thousands of years – and will continue to elude anyone who tries to build one.

Hollowed-out book: Why books are popular in prisons.

Human mail: Why buy an expensive ticket when you can go by mail?

Interactive Urinal Communicator: A talking urinal made for advertising purposes.

Japanese toilet: The most advanced toilets in the world with computers, nozzles and flashing lights.

Jesus nut: Not someone crazy about Jesus, but the bolt on the top of a helicopter that connects it to the rotor blades.

Klerksdorp sphere: Spheres with three parallel groves dated to be three billion years old... Evidence of ancient intelligent life? An unusual natural phenomenon? Who knows...

Knork: In contrast to the spork (see below), here's a knife/fork combo.

Koteka: An unusual traditional garment of western New Guinea, also known as the "penis gourd".

Hedy Lamarr: Film actress co-invents communication system later used in cell phones, Wi-Fi and other forms of wireless technologies.

Lloyds Bank turd:Possibly the largest example of fossilised human feces ever found, discovered under the future site of a Lloyds Bank in England.

Loose wheel nut indicator: Yes, those little yellow tags you see on truck wheels really do have a purpose.

Lunarcrete: Perfect for building your own cut-price moon base.

The Mississauga Blob: A flaming object that fell from the heavens onto a back-yard picnic table in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada in 1979. The mystery of its true nature drew worldwide attention and speculation. Turns out it was a frisbee.

Mosquito laser: A bug zapper with a difference.

Nazi UFOs: Did the Luftwaffe, in fact, explore the final frontier and make contact with alien races? Whether the secret Nazi base is on the Moon or in Antarctica, the truth is apparently out there.

Oliver Cromwell's head: This English political leader's head has an interesting journey after its owner is posthumously executed.

One red paperclip: A man's small piece of metal turns out to be worth more than expected.

Paris Syndrome: Particularly common amongst Japanese tourists and not to be confused with Jerusalem Syndrome or Stockholm Syndrome.

Pasilalinic-sympathetic compass: A telegraph system using telepathic snails.

Pigeons in aerial photography: Pigeons were used by the Germans for aerial surveillance in World War I, and rumoured to be so used in World War II. Not to forget the CIA's own pigeon camera.

Pointy hat: A distinctive feature of a wide range of people during history.

Project Cybersyn: Chilean robo-socialism control chamber invented by a Brit with a gigantic beard.

Rocket mail: The delivery of mail by rocket or missile, attempted by various organisations in many different countries, with varying levels of success.

Royal Mail rubber band: One billion are used every year and often seen littering the streets of UK cities.

RP FLIP: A manned ship designed to be capsized at a 90° angle for weeks on end.

Russian floating nuclear power station: Self-contained, low-capacity, floating nuclear power plants.

Shipping container architecture: The concept and art of using intermodal containers to build stuff.

South Pointing Chariot: An ancient Chinese mechanical compass which took a millennium to reproduce.

Space advertising: Plans to launch giant billboards into space.

Spork: A cross between a spoon and a fork. Not to be confused with a knork.

Stainless steel soap: Metallic soap that removes odours from the hands.

Tempest Prognosticator: Meteorology by frightened annelid.

Tin foil hat: Headgear that allegedly prevents a person from having their minds read or controlled.

Toilet roll holder: A surprisingly complex device for holding a roll of toilet paper.

Whizzinator: A fake penis used to beat drug tests (complete with dried urine, heater, syringe). Comes in white, tan, latino, brown, and black.

Xianxingzhe: A Chinese robot, according to the Japanese, that will save its country from corporate capitalism with its crotch cannon.

Zanbato: An enormous Japanese sword that does not exist.



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