Phoning during a thunderstorm – Unrecommended

“Is it dangerous to make a landline phone call during a thunderstorm?” It can be. Background is provided by Emeritus Professor Mat Darveniza, AO, FTSE, BE, PhD, DEng, Hon DSc (Eng), FIEAust (Hon), FIEEE (life), FTSE, LIVA, from the University of Queensland Australia – who is a leading authority on lightning strikes. In Australia alone […]

Inventions to detect and prevent annoying phone calls, documents, or people

Annoying phone calls and documents clog our telephone, email, and other communications networks. Inventors, and the institutions backing them, are trying to fight technology with technology. Here are three of their patent applications: “Detecting and rejecting annoying documents,” international patent application WO 2007070622 A3, Filed Dec 14, 2006 by ‎Anurag Agarwal and Deepak Jindal (Google […]

Ig Nobel filmmaker tries to retrieve deleted email

Bahram Sadeghi documented his recent attempt to recover a deleted email message. Sadeghi telephoned the NSA (America’s National Security Agency). The NSA is known to record and store much of the world’s email traffic. He asked: “I understand you keep track of lots of e-mails and internet data, can you help me? The conversation continued from there: […]

The day engineers ceased to be boring (in Britain)

In August 1996, British civil engineers ceased to be officially boring. Glenda Browne, prompted by the appearance of the special Boring Machines issue the Annals of Improbable Research, alerts us to a report about that historic occasion. The AP wire service reported, in 1996: CIVIL ENGINEERS NO LONGER BORING — YELLOW PAGES SAYS SO DIRK BEVERIDGE , Associated Press […]

Defending Pay Phones and Parking Spots

As pay telephones disappear from our cities, with them vanish opportunities to watch an entertaining, maddening form of behaviour. The behaviour was documented in a study called Waiting For a Phone: Intrusion on Callers Leads to Territorial Defence. The report came out in 1989, before mobile phones nudged public pay phones towards oblivion. Professor R Barry […]