Wanted: problems requiring technological solutions

November 30, 2005 A new Channel 4 (UK) television reality show will soon be taking on some of life’s most persistent irritations by employing some ingenious engineering and science to help members of the public. “Men in White” involves three maverick PHD students who will tackle these challenges by building gadgets and inventions to solve the public's dilemmas, aiming to make science, technology and engineering more accessible to the general viewing public but most of all to make it cool! The age-old issue of unwanted parking tickets and car clamping is one of the problems that the Men in White have already started on, and some others under consideration include a silent hairdryer, a prosthetic limb that can power a phone or ipod charger and a personal airbag for a novice snowboarder. There’s even the suggestion of building a handy gadget to tell you when your girlfriend has PMT!So here’s your big chance – the show is seeking ideas for gadgets. Read on for details on how to get involved.

The age-old issue of unwanted parking tickets and car clamping is one of the problems that the Men in White have already started on. Will the wardens be fazed by the high and not-so high-tech solutions that are currently being planned? Remotely-triggered repellent smells, speakers hooked up to the owner’s mobile phone and some very clever mechanics will probably be just the first line of defence. No doubt they’ll be followed by even smarter blockades which may or may not beat the clampers – and, of course, the tow truck! Can their clever customised car really become the parking warden’s nemesis? This stunt will be just one of many snazzy scientific solutions included in a new show which is taking on the problems of the general public. The team have, so far, been contacted by a theatre hairdresser who needs a silent hairdryer and are busy coming up with designs for the series, such as a supped up prosthetic limb that can power a phone or ipod charger and a personal airbag for a novice snowboarder. They have a whole lot of talent and a bit more time in their hands so need some more problems to tackle. There’s even the suggestion of building a handy gadget to tell you when your girlfriend has PMT! The team are really keen to solve occupational or hobby-based problems for students so if there is a gadget or idea that you would love to exist; or a persistent problem that you have day dreams of being able to solve, write with your problem to the show's producers. “No problem too bizarre, large or small. The Men in White will solve them all!”

The Presenters: Dr Basil Singer Basil is an extreme sport adrenalin junkie – a skater dude who also happens to be a doctor of Quantum Chaos. You might be able to track down Dr. Basil working as a break-dance instructor, programming robots for use in genetic cancer research, drumming in a band or using lasers to manipulate matter in atoms. He could be jumping out of a plane or doing a back-flip off a cliff; lecturing at the Royal Institute or welding the hull of a boat in his native Somerset; skateboarding in Trafalgar square or snowboarding in the Alps. That's Basil bottom left and bottom right (on the skateboard). Jem Stansfield Jem Stansfield is an inventor and special effects technician who can create anything. He has designed & built massive installations for science museums around the world & created effects on Van Helsing and Lost in Space. He specialises in building things that have never been made before – and succeeds. His enthusiasm and infectious ‘can-do’ attitude have also led him to try his hand as a stand up comic, a jackaroo and at work in a traveling circus. With a background in aeronautical engineering and an in-depth knowledge of the principles of science and engineering Jem will no doubt find a way - that's Jem top right. Dr Adam Rutherford Adam is the Managing Web Editor of the world renowned Science Journal Nature. He also has a degree in evolutionary genetics and a PhD in the developmental genetics of the eye. Dr. Adam has his finger on the pulse feeling out for signs of life in research, emerging technologies and all breaking news stories in the broader field of science. He has expert contacts around the world and knows all there is to know about science from the straight, serious kind to the truly bizarre. He also plays the fiddle and has a decidedly dark sense of humour. Adam is top left in the piccie.

Top stories

Recommended for you

Latest in Good Thinking

Editors Choice