Gravity Catapult

I have long been enamored of catapults. Invented around 400 B.C., they were used until nearly A.D. 1300. So for 1,700 years, catapults were arguably the largest, most expensive, and most powerful machines on the planet. Today, people build catapults for fun: Scout troops, historical reenactors, fathers and daughters, beer-stoked... Read more »

Paulownia Archery Bows

When we took possession of our humble London home, I was shocked to find that all the window treatments had been removed. So we suffered the rat-in-a-maze Ikea gantlet to get a good price on new Venetian blinds. I hung the new blinds immediately but it took me months to... Read more »

Gigantic Bubble Generator

When I read the Geekcon 2010 call for projects, I thought, what the hack — I’ll do it. Inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I decided to let creativity into my life, and start inventing things. I watched Sterling Johnson’s magnificent “Giant Stinson Beach Bubbles” clip on YouTube, and... Read more »

Animal Detector

My 4-year-old son comes up with some funny ideas. A few months ago, he asked for a piece of cheese to leave outside for animals. We gave him a slice of cheddar. The next morning he jumped out of bed and hurried to the window. The cheese was gone, but... Read more »

“Glengarry” Brass Balls

My friend Ed and I love quoting from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, especially the plot-inciting speech by Alec Baldwin’s character, in which he informs a veteran sales team that they will now compete against each other to keep their jobs (“Third prize: you’re fired.”) Toward the end of his... Read more »