Shazaam or something


A major athletic shoe manufacturer is developing foot-scanners destined to be placed at selected stores. These scanners purportedly have the capability to scan an individual’s feet and send data to a manufacturing site. The plan is to ship the custom-ordered $3,000 (approximately) pairs of shoes to consumers within one week. Soles, fabric and colors can be selected from sizable menus. Shazaam or something.

A money-saving apparatus dubbed Skysweeper was recently developed at the University of California (San Diego). Skysweeper is an invention that can be placed upon live power lines and the device will slowly traverse electrical wires while sensing frays, defective splices, abrasive tree branches and other trouble spots along designated routes. This useful information is beamed to receivers monitored by repair crews where it can be ignored. Oops, I should have said “quickly acted upon.”

The Barbie Doll was introduced in 1959, so of course Mattel long ago ceased production of this out-of-date toy because sales have dropped precipitously – not. In 2012 Barbie sales averaged one every 3 seconds (24 hours a day).

In 1989, a jewelry company created a pair of red slippers which were copies of those worn by Judy Garland in the movie The Wizard of Oz. One big difference was that the company used real red rubies worth a total value of three million dollars. A small irony here is that $3,000,000 is more than the original movie’s production budget.

Do you recall Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode? The guitar on which he recorded that classic rock hit is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

For decades, scientists have been “making do” as they used atomic cesium clocks, which are off by about one second every 100 million years. This amateurish sloppiness was not nearly accurate enough for some people. At last accuracy fanatics have available the newly developed ytterbium (I did not make this up) atomic clock. The modern timing device is off by no more than one second every ten billion years.

A few years ago, the Greenpeace ship and crew of Rainbow Warrior II was sent to investigate humanity’s debilitating pollution effects inflicted on a fragile coral reef near the Philippines. The vessel ran aground on the reef in question, destroying such a large portion of the reef that Greenpeace was assessed an environmental fine. Doh! Well, I hope that your shoes are both chic and comfortable. Have a pleasant week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at