David Blaine and Nikola Tesla. A shocking pairing.

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David Blaine and Nikola Tesla. A shocking pairing.

October 5, 2012

Did you drive into work this morning using your car’s “Wrist-Twist” steering system? We didn’t either. AOL Autos found a gem from the “It seemed like a good idea at the time” files with a 1965 Ford promotional video about the Wrist-Twist revolution that never was. According to the video, the Wrist-Twist promised to replace the standard steering wheel with a system so easy that even a woman could use it. Nineteen-sixties sexism and cliché voiceovers aside, the invention highlights a point that Geoff Deane, head of IV Lab, recently wrote about – most inventions don’t work out.  It’s par for the course, so it takes perseverance to find that true “Eureka!” moment.  

Looking at future candidates for the “It seemed like a good idea at the time” file, the New York Times reported on David Blaine’s plan to pit one invention against another. Dressed in a metal suit invented by 19th century scientist Michael Faraday, Blaine will stand for 72 hours between seven Tesla coils shooting one millions volts of electricity at him. Faraday suits are designed to block electricity from entering the body – even one million volts courtesy of our hero Nikola Tesla. Here’s hoping that Blaine doesn’t end up like our photonic fence test subjects.

Lastly, Smithsonian Magazine sat down with author Christopher Bonanos to discuss his book about Polaroid and how the company reinvented photography. Brilliant inventors, valuable ideas and bold predictions about the future of technology – that’s our kind of story. Bonanos notes that even photographers like Ansel Adams and Walker Evans used Polaroid cameras. Digital photography may have been the death knell for Polaroid pictures, but shaking your smartphone after you take a picture isn’t nearly as much fun.

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