WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

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It's fun to peruse old copies of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Modern Mechanix, and similar magazines and laugh at the naivety of 1950s science. Everything was all, "Rockets! Space! Lasers! Together at last, on your toaster!" Really, it was a recipe for an inevitable letdown when jet-packs failed to show up by 1970. But sometimes Popular Mechanics just had bad ideas. Like, crazy, poorly-thought-out contraptions and scenarios that, even in the '50s, made no damn sense whatsoever...

copter skiing

Helicopter Skiing? Have you ever seen a helicopter, guys? Unless this is some kind of magical "no prop wash" chopper, those kids are going to be whipped around by a constant blizzard until the spiraling winds whip their tethers around their frozen, lifeless bodies and they're dragged through the Rockies. How would you even communicate to the pilot that you're ready to stop? He'd just go on sipping his coffee and plowing the mountainside with your icy corpse. No doubt the alarmed people emerging from the trees are trying to warn the boys of just this danger.

cable bus

Why does this thing have wheels on the bottom, exactly? Is someone seriously taking the time to unhook the cables above, drive this to the airport, pick up vacationing tourists, drive back, reattach the gondola cabling, then use it to rappel over land flat enough that they could've just driven anyway? It says "Skiway" on the side, but they're traveling above grass. The people on the ground aren't even wearing coats for cryin' out loud!

making money

"Ideas for Making Money?" This is an idea for ruining your shoes, pal. Come on, this isn't even trying! The guy's already got his feet in the ocean and he's dressed like he's on his way to the Sears Portrait Studio. No way Aunt Edna is going to appreciate him showing up smelling like low tide and squishing sea water all over her carpet. And I'll admit I'm not up to date on a lot of hydrodynamics, but I'd be willing to be that front wheel/bubble turns into a face soaker in about two and a half seconds after launch.

robo water polo

Finally, a sport even more pompous than polo! Why, at this point, are we hanging on to the horse part of this equation? I mean really, I can understand some traditions and all, but there's nothing equestrian about riding carousel spare parts around a lake thwacking a beach ball with an extra long window squeegee. At least our boy in the foreground seems to have mastered how to ride. I can't say the same for the gentleman in the back.

beach ball airplane

Okay, this is tough to judge in terms of scale, but if that little airplane looking thing is supposed to be carrying people, I have to assume it sits atop a 150 feet tall hollow plastic ball with propeller engines on the sides. How is this practical on any level? How do people even get in that thing? When they reach their destination do they have a waiting platform or do they just leap out, lemming style, falling either into the surf or down to break their legs on a pier below?

rocket packs

Finally, jet packs! I can zoom around above the snarled traffic on my way to work and never get stuck on the offramp again! Except that the first time you turned this thing on your legs would instantly look like two little fish sticks that fell to the bottom of the oven and burned to a horrible black crisp. There's a reason you don't can't stand under the space shuttle to get a good view of the launch.

dyno wheel bus

Apparently in the future we're ruled by a race of giant four-year-olds. If not, I have no idea how you're going to swipe this thing across the ground enough times to make it take off across the kitchen linoleum and into the floorboards. And let's say the "Dyno-Wheel" is a perfectly legitimate mode of transportation (it's not): why do you have the other wheels, then? It sure seems like they're never going to touch the ground. Maybe this was just so enough people would associate "car" with this thing and realize what they were looking at.

prop skiier

Holy crap. How did this get past Quality Control? First off, is this actually supposed to have military applications? I know this was back when Russia was pretty scary to everyone Stateside, but a fire engine red propeller on skis with an infantryman strapped to the front isn't very stealthy. Imagine a squad of 10 or 20 guys motor-skiing around the Siberian plains wondering why the enemy is always gone at least a half hour before they show up. Suppose they find some bad guys. Do they just park that thing and hop off? It's a pretty easy marker for a sniper down range. And what the hell happens if a guy lets go of the handles accidentally while he's moving? I have to assume he turns into an Army guy smoothie.

propeller skating

Why not just have a giant knife sticking off the front of this thing? Was that too subtle? These guys are already making it look dangerous; they're obviously moving at very high speed (see those streaks?) approximately a foot and a half away from a group of terrified skaters. You know, because if there's any surface that begs for an exposed propeller moving at extremely high speed near large groups of people, it's ice.

propeller car

What is it with these guys and giant, exposed props? Jeez. You know what happens every time a plane sucks in a wayward bird? If everyone's lucky, it has an emergency landing and everyone has to get off because the exploding bird really does a number on the engines and they need to be either repaired or replaced. If everyone's not so lucky, the engine explodes and the plane crashes. You know why it doesn't happen as often as you might expect? There aren't a lot of birds at 30,000 feet. You have to go a lot lower, you know, like zipping across the road. Actually, forget birds, what happens the first time you rear end somebody and your propeller chews up the back end of the next guy's car and it looks just like that time my Great-Grandma ran over the rabbit den with the lawnmower?

plane weenz

In the future, planes will have genitals! I guess this ended up turning into the common airport shuttle, but I don't really get this scenario. Why do some of the people have to be secluded in what looks to be a windowless Twinkiemobile that docks with the plane like some sort of lunar lander? Is the atmosphere toxic? There are people outside the thing milling around trying to get in!

silent engine

No sir, that's not a silent engine. That's a bong. We had combustion engines in the 1950s, right? How would having to light some sort of explosive fuel with an open flame just to cut your grass be seen as technological progress?

rowing bike

Finally, I can travel around town with all the convenience of rowing, one of the most physically demanding and exhausting activities known to man. Do these go backwards like traditional rowing would seem to indicate? Because we just went from "useless exercise equipment" to "high speed deathtrap" if that's the case. I don't even see a seatbelt over that guy's purple pants.

this can happen to you

No, Popular Mechanics, that cannot happen to me. You know why? Because I don't go speeding around rooftops in my car. I'm not even sure how they got that thing on top of an office building. Even the poor dog is going to take a pretty nasty spill from this. And what future is this predicting, exactly? One in which this particular guy's bouts with alcoholism finally catch up to him? The future's a bummer.

thazday


quality posts: 0 Private Messages thazday

Now, THAT was funny.

wpidalamar


quality posts: 0 Private Messages wpidalamar

I went on a helicopter tour in New Zealand a year and a half ago.

We were talking with the pilot, and asked him the craziest thing they've done with one of their helicopters.

His answer... Water Skiing. It involved the use of a concrete counter-weight, and a lot of guts!

So I can imagine snow-skiing is in the realm of possibilities.

Hoomi


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Hoomi

I think this proves that Popular Mechanics hired people who were too stoned to write comic books, because anyone who came up with some of those ideas HAD to have been smoking something really strong!

entropomorphic


quality posts: 0 Private Messages entropomorphic

Judging by the way the belt is wrapped around the "rowmobile" axle, it would in fact drive forward and not backwards like a rowboat. The steering mechanism with foot pedals is suspect, however, since they're also what you need to push against while rowing.

Ed3rd


quality posts: 9 Private Messages Ed3rd

The airport one came true. Washington Dulles airport used to have "mobile lounges" that transported people directly from the main terminal to their planes.

When I passed through there in 2004 they were using the remaining lounges as buses to transport people from the main terminal to the mid-field terminal.



It's a krap! We cannot repel bags of this magnitude!
10/13/06 4/1/07 6/1/07 12/11/08 01/28/10 3/26/10

JeffQ


quality posts: 6 Private Messages JeffQ

Actually, the "sea bicycle on balloons" is indeed an idea for making money. Grand Cayman offers giant sea tricycles for the novelty of riding around just off-shore. The "balloons" are hard plastic and huge (more than 4 feet in diameter), so you sit well above the water, and its design avoids spraying its riders. (They accomodate 2 people.) On the other hand, it doesn't seem like practical water transportation. Riding a sea bicycle on water is worse than riding a land bicycle on sand -- far too much exertion needed for the distance you get from it.

As for the "Silent Engine", I took a quick look at the Popular Science article, and it looks similar to a gas oven, only using the heat for motive instead of cooking power. Millions of people manage to light pilot lights and operate gas ovens without explosions, so maybe there's something to this. Since I've never seen a silent mower, however, I suspect there are other reasons for its absence in the lawn-care market.

devzero


quality posts: 2 Private Messages devzero

Helicopter assisted-skiing? Hell yes. Where do I sign up? The prop-wash blizzard of snow is a minor annoyance. Can you imagine the air you'd get on that run?

kmclaugh


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kmclaugh

Hilarious!

spiffitz


quality posts: 9 Private Messages spiffitz

There's more in this article.

md1088


quality posts: 6 Private Messages md1088

The bubble bus kind of reminds me of the brand new concept car Peugot Came out with....


http://thecontaminated.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/peugeot-concept-car-1.jpg

jkarras


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jkarras
Ed3rd wrote:The airport one came true. Washington Dulles airport used to have "mobile lounges" that transported people directly from the main terminal to their planes.

When I passed through there in 2004 they were using the remaining lounges as buses to transport people from the main terminal to the mid-field terminal.



I was going to say the same thing. It was before they had the jetways and the extra terminals.

ericjz


quality posts: 0 Private Messages ericjz

Here is more fuel for the fun fires

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/magazine/?magname=PopularScience

goatcrapp


quality posts: 16 Private Messages goatcrapp

ah - steampunk before it was trendy...

both equally implausible, but fun to look at.

smallbigtall


quality posts: 4 Private Messages smallbigtall

Have not laughed this hard from written material in a long time. A+

hipster wooter became hipster wooter before amazon thought it was cool

DrunkCat


quality posts: 6 Private Messages DrunkCat

I laughed so hard I cried. GG.

Relax.

mc900ftjedi


quality posts: 0 Private Messages mc900ftjedi

I love that the aircraft in the airport one appear to be passenger versions of the B-29.

reidab


quality posts: 0 Private Messages reidab

The Skiway tram actually existed. The wheels were there because the gondola cabins were modified city busses. Note the lack of tires on those wheels in the PM illustrations.

Check out the bottom of this page for more photos: http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/mt_hood.html

ttkarel


quality posts: 1 Private Messages ttkarel

What’s with “Shop Kinks” and “Radio Kinks”? Did the folks at Everyday Science and Mechanics run a Morse code, adults only, ham-radio, BBS from their garage? Why put it on the cover? Unless people "in-the-know" would look for the little, green star in the big S on the cover.
Yeah, and the guy in background just happens to look Aryan, especially in that jack-boots-and-khakis outfit.

StanleyRumm


quality posts: 0 Private Messages StanleyRumm

Looks to me like the idea is for the wheels on the aerial bus are used to propel the bus along the cable. Assuming it's a 4-wheel drive bus and uses a rigid line between the wheel and the cog on the cable, I reckon it could have a chance of working (doesn't look like the best design for it though).

gnafuthegreat


quality posts: 2 Private Messages gnafuthegreat

That last one really intrigued me, so I just had to look it up:

http://books.google.com/books?id=2gLP9Nx6BJAC&pg=PT79&dq=%22march+1948%22+popular+science&client=firefox-a&cd=1#v=onepage&q=%22march%201948%22%20popular%20science&f=false

It makes perfect sense after reading that. It's about the idea that getting into an accident at 30 miles per hour is the equivalent to driving off a 9-story building.

Oh, am I on?

*ahem*

I got nothin'.

natewilliams


quality posts: 0 Private Messages natewilliams

Jet packs don't work by shooting out rocket fuel, and today we have designs VERY similar to the on depicted on that cover powered by concentrated hydrogen peroxide that can fly for 30 seconds+

Snapster


quality posts: 16 Private Messages Snapster
gnafuthegreat wrote:That last one really intrigued me, so I just had to look it up:

http://books.google.com/books?id=2gLP9Nx6BJAC&pg=PT79&dq=%22march+1948%22+popular+science&client=firefox-a&cd=1#v=onepage&q=%22march%201948%22%20popular%20science&f=false

It makes perfect sense after reading that. It's about the idea that getting into an accident at 30 miles per hour is the equivalent to driving off a 9-story building.


nice find - an impactful analogy

I hope teenagers local to me are reading.

colbyseider


quality posts: 1 Private Messages colbyseider
Ed3rd wrote:The airport one came true. Washington Dulles airport used to have "mobile lounges" that transported people directly from the main terminal to their planes.

When I passed through there in 2004 they were using the remaining lounges as buses to transport people from the main terminal to the mid-field terminal.



In 2009 (and soon 2010) they're still using the mobile lounges! Although only now, as this esteemed poster mentioned, between terminals not from terminal to plane.

Their "air-train" service is due to start up any minute now.

DetroitMac


quality posts: 0 Private Messages DetroitMac

I remember a long time ago (1964), one of the best things that happened to my brother and I was finding a couple of beer cases full of old Popular Mechanics and Sciences. It was a great summer of reading adventure... thinking of those future days when we would be able to fly our jet cars off the decks of airport submarines. The non-featured stories were the places McGiver found all of his mechanical hacks... like using old windshield wiper blades and a mini pie plate to make a "Smile Provoking Ash Tray" . I still cherish my Johnson Smith Catalog (where I learned to play the piano, Got plans to build a midget racer and bought an portable X-Ray machine!). Gotta go now and assemble my atomic powered coal scuddle.

n17ikh


quality posts: 0 Private Messages n17ikh

That "silent engine" looks like a beta Stirling engine.

Jargon GO


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Jargon GO
JeffQ wrote:
As for the "Silent Engine", I took a quick look at the Popular Science article, and it looks similar to a gas oven, only using the heat for motive instead of cooking power. Millions of people manage to light pilot lights and operate gas ovens without explosions, so maybe there's something to this. Since I've never seen a silent mower, however, I suspect there are other reasons for its absence in the lawn-care market.



Maybe because push mowers and electric mowers are just as quiet and don't require matches?

vpndev


quality posts: 0 Private Messages vpndev

The "mobile lounges" (who in hell invented that name?) are still in use at Dulles airport. The new train will replace them within a month or so, but didn't quite make it in time for Christmas.

framistat


quality posts: 0 Private Messages framistat
Ed3rd wrote:The airport one came true. Washington Dulles airport used to have "mobile lounges" that transported people directly from the main terminal to their planes.

When I passed through there in 2004 they were using the remaining lounges as buses to transport people from the main terminal to the mid-field terminal.



Many of those "bus" type lounges were made by Ludwig Honold Mfg in Edgemoor Delaware. They were able to elevate hydraulically to the door of the aircraft. They were shipped worldwide back in the 70's before more modern terminals were being built.

anigamor


quality posts: 0 Private Messages anigamor
vpndev wrote:The "mobile lounges" (who in hell invented that name?) are still in use at Dulles airport. The new train will replace them within a month or so, but didn't quite make it in time for Christmas.



Well it's not really a bus, and it holds a lot of people just hanging out till it makes it to their terminal or plane. So....

Developer123


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Developer123

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/9045421.jpg

The Skiway was real. Google works.

danixdefcon5


quality posts: 0 Private Messages danixdefcon5

Heh. Mobile Lounges are still a feature at Mexico City's Airport, at least in Terminal 1. The crappy buses used for T2 are ugly in comparison; the mobile lounge ones are cooler, they also allow loading up everyone on one fell swoop.

cantab314


quality posts: 0 Private Messages cantab314

"Heliskiing" exists but is completely different to what's depicted, it's just getting dropped off from a chopper then skiing normal.

Jet-packs, as has been mentioned, work fine without burning you, but only fly for half a minute so they're not very useful.

The front and back wheels on the dyno bus will stop it "gerbilling", a major problem with monowheels. The side wheels stop it falling over.

Propeller cars have been around for ages. They really don't work remotely well though.

RowBIKES have been around since the 1930s. They're generally considered fitness equipment more than transport nowadays. And you face forwards.