13 June 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project


Earthquake Bungee

This is a blogitem about an invention.  Although it cries out for illustration, I'm not a skilled illustrator*, and unsurprisingly, have been unable to find a picture of this device on the internet that I can steal.  Perhaps that proves that it is an invention.

Yesterday, I told you not to worry about being hit by a spacerock.  Today, I'm telling you that you should worry about earthquakes.  This is not entirely altruistic on my part; if you're sufficiently worried you'll send money to help pay for patenting and developing this invention, which I call the "Earthquake Bungee."

As many fundamental inventions tend to be, this one is intuitive, simple, and inexpensive to recreate.  All it requires is a bungee cord that can hold a few hundred pounds, a chunk of heavy stuff, a helium balloon with gas cartridge, and a flying harness, such as you would already have if you were a thespian Superman or Peter Pan.  The chunk of heavy stuff - which could be some cinderblocks, logs, or other inexpensive material, is placed outside and attached to a heavy duty eyelet.  It shouldn't be fixed to the ground, however.  (Even a car bumper will do in a pinch.)  The indoor part of the invention is the bungee connected on one end to a strong clip such as a carabiner, and on other end to the flying harness.  Finally, the (uninflated) helium balloon is attached to the flying harness at the same location as the bungee.

EARTHQUAKE!  The ground starts shaking under your feet and, after a moment of panic you fetch your handy Earthquake Bungee(TM) and run outside with it.  Using the quick-connect clip, you attach the bungee to the heavy item, car bumper, or whatever, and pull the cord that inflates the balloon.  In just moments, you're floating between the earth and the sky, safe from the commotion on the ground, with a serene look on your face as those around you are fighting for purchase on the dangerously shifting ground below. 

A minute or so later, assuming a giant fissure hasn't opened and you haven't  been dragged, screaming, into the magma, you can deflate the balloon and gently float to the earth, unscathed.  Bonus:  If you attach a video camera to the flying harness, you'll have some entertaining and possibly very valuable footage.

*Neither am I an unskilled illustrator.  I can't even do stick figures.  Sorry.

Richard Factor