or sometimes just a passing thought.

Average Clocks

Date of Original Idea: Oct 6, 2013

2, 3, 4, or more clocks that are set such that the average of the displayed times is the actual time. Could also be done with other mathematical functions or types of timepieces as well. (average sundials?)

For example:


results in an actual time of a few seconds shy of 11:43.

results in an average of, well, 16:28. But the point is that it can be as easy or hard as you wish to make it.

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Home Heating from Fracking Failures

Date of Original Idea:  Feb 28, 2010

We’ve seen the news reports and videos of failed attempts cleanly fracking natural gas.  The gas and other “secret ingredients” get into the drinking water of the people living nearby, who subsequently video themselves lighting their tap on fire.

There’s energy in them pipes!  Now all we need is a furnace that separates the gas from water and uses it to heat a home or, more ironically, heat water.  It is apparently a low gas flow volume and the supply is probably not too stable, so a low flame, much like a mutli-stage furnace on low setting.  It would be excellent for heating a volume of water as in a boiler system, where a low but fairly constant heating would get the system warmed up eventually and then kept at the temp, the thermal capacity of the system would deal with lapses in the gas supply.  In very cold climates it would probably need to be supplemented by other heating sources.  The problem might be that you have to keep the water running to get the gas to flow, and then you’re running a well pump that is not meant for such continuous duty, so a beefing up of the pump might be necessary too.  The water could be recirculated back down the well–it’s not potable anyway.

Need to get cracking on this one, with gas prices going up there will be a big demand for this type of device in just a few years!

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Radiator Bed

Date of Original Idea: In a cold winter bed between  2010 and 2011

Electric blankets have numerous problems surrounding the durability of the wiring and the need to clean the blanket from time to time.  Waterbeds have the ability to be warmed up and keep the sleeper(s) warm, but there are issues with durability here too.  Not to mention weight problems in some houses, etc. So how about…

Between the bed and box spring goes a slightly-flexible-but-mostly-stiff plastic that is a series of tubes for water, warm water to flow through.  The tubes, in and out, are either connected to the building hot water heating system, in parallel with a local radiator, or to a small space heater plugged into the wall (the trick here would be getting a pump to be either very quiet or or with just enough white-noise).  Minimal wear on the large tube mattress part (while sleeping anyway), while all sensitive connections and any electrical connections are made exterior to the bed where they will not take so much abuse.

Even better.  If it is attached to an external device for heat and pumping then we can also add a leak detector.  Around the series of tubes is another plastic encapsulation.  This has a single connection to a little pressure pump and sensor.  When turned on and/or periodically the thing can pressurize the encapsulation and check the leak rate of the air out of the area.  The idea being to catch small leaks in the air bag before further damage can happen and cause larger damage to the water containing network.  Obviously this would be an up-sell as the added costs would be significant.

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