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Hare-Brained Scheme Recording Office

For proof that some idea didn't work
  (+9, -2)
(+9, -2)
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We all know that lots of people have wild ideas that won't work. Most of us also know that sometimes someone comes up with an idea that MIGHT work, but it gets shot down by those who claim it can't. A few inventors persist and some of them become vindicated, but how many others deserved a better chance?

The Hare-Brained Scheme Recording Office provides small amounts of Government funds for wild ideas. There are only two requirements.

First, everything the inventor does with the grant money must be thoroughly documented. If the idea fails, then the Hare-Brained Scheme Recording Office keeps the documentation.

Second, any newly proposed idea can only be funded if it has not have already been tried, to within a reasonable amount of similarity. That is, if you want to apply for funds to build your Perpetual Motion Machine, the design of that PMM must be reasonably different from all the other failed PMMs that are documented in the Recording Office.

So at first the Office might dole out billions of dollars on many thousands of hare-brained schemes, but after a few decades the funding should drop to a comparative trickle. It will be more and more difficult to design a different-enough version of a Perpetual Motion Machine (or other wild gadget).

And the skeptics will no longer need to resort to saying such things as "It can't work because it violates the Law of Conservation of Energy" (which is not a perfect argument; that Law, according to General Relativity, is only "local" and not "global" with respect to the Universe); instead the skeptics can say, "It can't work because it has been tried and it failed." A MUCH better argument!

And, of course, since breakthroughs do occasionally occur, we should be able to expect the skeptics to be surprised occasionally. With results that would make all those billions well-spent, indeed!

Vernon, Sep 30 2008


       Can we apply more than once?   

       What happens when the design is just ever so slightly off target . It's lodged failure makes a huge miss by teaching everyone that this design doesn't work .
wjt, Sep 30 2008

       //small amounts of Government funds//

Why? Isn't this what venture capital is for? If an idea is sufficiently hare-brained that it's unable to attract commercial investors, why should the taxpayer be expected to fund it?

Also, if a certain idea has been tried, but failed, might it not be a result of poor implementation? Or inadequate testing? Again, these are issues that are well handled by VC.
angel, Sep 30 2008

       I sort of like it but there could be accusations of conspiracy against certain inventions. Also, it would be good if people knew why things won't work rather than got as far as making them. I mainly have perpetual motion machines here. Prevention is better than cure.
nineteenthly, Sep 30 2008

       [wjt], good point, except usually if a thing is only slightly off, it will tend to work slightly. How many failures had to be waded through before a successful large liquid-fueled rocket was built?   

       [angel], most venture capitalists prefer quick results. AND they tend to listen to the skeptical experts, who often are right. They don't want to waste their money, after all. Any Government, of course, is routinely guilty of wasting money. In this case the waste has a Good Purpose: to get detailed and publicly available records of things that don't work and never need to be tried again. Even the venture capitalists might like to be able to direct would-be inventors toward such a database!   

       [nineteenthly], could you be more specific? Already there are claims of conspiracies against certain inventions. Cold Fusion, for example. Just the other day I read about a fellow who early got some promising results, then in experimenting changed various factors and got failures for six years before getting any more positive results. This should be a clue that the phrase "reasonably different" that I used in the main text might involve a single design factor. I would tend to say that if there is a conflict between an inventor's proposed difference between some already-been-done failed gadget, and claims that it is not different enough, then the more vehement the controversy, the more the difference should be tested. What anti-invention conspiracy could withstand that philosophy?
Vernon, Sep 30 2008

       [UnaBubba], I suspect for suggestions like that, the person doing the submitting will also have to be the person getting the brain transplant. That should cut down the number of requests, maybe?
Vernon, Sep 30 2008

       [angel] <waves> Hi!
po, Sep 30 2008

       Technology is starting to be at the stage where development is not linear ( Seeing results proportional to actions) . I imagine nature's clevers are tricky beasts in that they maybe only occur one in 10,000,000 when everything comes together naturally but if cornered could be a valid powerful repeatable technology and probably needed for mankinds venture to the other star systems .
wjt, Oct 01 2008

       [Vernon], not everyone is rational. Actually, perhaps no-one is. If it turned out that a car which runs on water was tried and didn't work, i can easily imagine a whole group of people saying it was thought up secretly by oil companies or politicians in their pockets and deliberately flawed. I can imagine them saying the same thing about a scheme based on zero point energy or grossly mechanical perpetual motion engines. Many people are not going to be aware of the subtleties of this scheme.   

       Are you saying that published plans would show the flaw? If so, you might be expecting a greater degree of technical literacy than someone who thinks they've just invented a perpetual motion machine might have.
nineteenthly, Oct 01 2008

       [nineteenthly], there is a solution to that, which involves restoring something the Patent Office used to do. It used to be required for inventors to submit a working model. In this case, if the device does not work (and since the Office paid for it), it could be retained as "how the documentation was ACTUALLY implemented" Someone thinking a conspiracy was behind it need only compare the two.
Vernon, Oct 01 2008

       [nineteinthly], actually, a car CAN run on WATER! Actually, not water alone, there is a TOP SECRET ADDITIVE which when added to WATER makes a powerful fuel which can RUN your car. I am not maiking that up, in case you are thinking that I am putting you on, heh.   

       Only the problem is that the oil companies have secretly CONNIVED with the car manufacturers and DELIBERATELY introduced subtle flaws into car engines. When a car engine detects that it is being run on WATER FUEL it automatically degrades itself and falls apart after a few Killo Meters.   

       All this is FACT and can eisily be DEMONSTRATED. Just come with me.
neelandan, Oct 01 2008

       Vous c'est ICI.
4whom, Oct 01 2008

       This is exactly proof of one of those ideas! +
xandram, Oct 01 2008

       [neelandan], would you perhaps be talking about the very-far-from-top-secret substance known as "calcium carbide"?
Vernon, Oct 01 2008

       Wouldn't that be a hovercraft? An amphibious vehicle would have to have paddles or go extremely fast.
nineteenthly, Oct 05 2008

       [boysparks], see my first annotation here. Note that different people will have different notions regarding what is "obviously total bollocks". Otherwise the would-be inventor would think that, too, right?
Vernon, Oct 06 2008

       Most "amateur" inventors operate under delusions of adequency. To them physics is wrong, the market is wrong, <insert parameter> is wrong, there is a conspiracy. And they see themselves as right.   

       It would be nice to have some repository of failed attempts though, available to lay-persons. It might not be useful in the physical world, but theoretical concepts might do well under this. I can imagine there is a vast expenditure in effort following similar, incorrect, tracks in research. Maybe that is why scientific journals are published. Besides peer review it offers an insight into directions that are being explored, and which ones are of no value. Perhaps a journal of failed attemps, more than an office. The 'bakery seems a perfect example of this theoretical masturbation. Hence my earlier comment: "You are HERE!"
4whom, Oct 06 2008


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