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In 1960, Woody Norris read a contest announcement in a magazine that changed his life and set him on the path of being a world-class inventor. The announcement challenged readers to submit a plausible but fictional account of a supposed new invention to be published as an April Fool’s joke. Woody took up the challenge. Here is the interesting part: during the process of trying to come up with a product that was both plausible but a bit “out there,” he came up with what would ultimately be his first successful invention. The rest is history.

Coming full circle, Woody is now the one throwing down the gauntlet, challenging you to prove your makeshift mettle by staying alive for 48 hours in a bank vault with limited oxygen. Over 100 of you answered the call, and Woody and I had to break open the engineering and chemistry texts to evaluate a good number of the submissions. In the end, Woody selected two winners and two honorable mentions; to say that selecting two winners from the pool of entries was difficult would be to understate matters. It was flat-out hard.

It is interesting to note Woody’s unique method of evaluation. Before he would evaluate any of the responses, he felt like he had to submit himself to the challenge and solve his own problem. He even set up an electrolysis apparatus in his lab so he could get empirical versus theoretical measures of power consumption and 0/H production. Then, he used his solution and data as reference points to evaluate the entries. Woody’s Solution is included here for your review.

Thanks to the MAKE readers who took up Woody’s challenge – check out all the winners here! – Link.