21st Challenge No. 37

Measure for measure: Gizmos to gauge things hitherto unquantified.

By Charlie Varon - Jim Rosenau

Published October 6, 2000 7:14PM (EDT)

"Cyclometers can turn even a leisurely Sunday bike ride into a high-performance event by measuring distance traveled, speed, heart rate and even the number of pedal rotations each minute."
-- New York Times, August 2000

In the beginning was the stick. Then came the ruler, the plumb bob, the egg timer. And now, in the Silicon Age, human beings have created chip-based gizmos to measure absolutely everything. Or have we?

Readers are invited to invent a device -- hand-held or smaller -- that can measure something as yet unmeasurable. Give us its name, any new units of measurement and up to 50 words of Sharper Image catalog prose telling us why we cannot live another day without it.


Speech gun
Slow talkers got you down? Turn your speech gun on a colleague, politician or spouse. A chime sounds when the speaker falls below five syllables per second. Optional "Uh" counter available.


Send your submissions via e-mail only to salon21st@salon.com. Please include your full name and an accurate e-mail address so we can contact you if you're a winner. By submitting your entry, you give Salon Technology permission to publish and reuse it. Deadline for entries is Oct. 13, 2000.


The winning response will receive a copy of Salon Technology editor Andrew Leonard's book, "Bots: The Origin of New Species."

In two weeks we'll publish a winner and some selected entries -- then start over a couple of weeks after that with a whole new challenge.

Charlie Varon

Charlie Varon is a humorist and playwright. His works include "Ralph Nader Is Missing" and "Rush Limbaugh in Night School."

MORE FROM Charlie Varon

Jim Rosenau

Jim Rosenau is a writer, editor and software designer in Berkeley, Calif. Jim and Charlie are also co-founders of the citizens group Californians for Earthquake Prevention and partners in Mockingbird Media, which offers a full line of comic services.

MORE FROM Jim Rosenau

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