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DT Daily: Mystery rocket engine, chatty light bulb, potato salad fundraiser

Today on DT Daily: NASA and the mystery rocket engine, a light bulb you talk to and the potato salad campaign has ended, so how much money was raised?

The interwebs were buzzing this past weekend with news that NASA has a rocket-science mystery on its hands, and it has the potential to change space travel.

The mystery surrounds the so-called EmDrive thruster, a type of engine powered by microwaves. When developer Roger Shawyer first revealed the device in 2003, he was laughed at because the engine violated some basic laws of physics – it shouldn’t work. Thing is, it does work, and NASA says their experiments with the engine shows it may have huge possible potential to revolutionize space travel. The problem is, no one really knows why it works.

But you know how it goes with science: they’ll figure it out eventually, and hopefully we can start taking $50 rocket rides to the Saturn Disneyland real soon.

Ever search for the lightswitch while juggling bags of groceries only to drop all the eggs? Yep, us too. That’s why we’re watching the Vocca smart lightbulb adapter Kickstarter campaign with interest.

While there are other “smart” bulbs already available, the Vocca is different in that it works by simple voice commands as well as pairing with a smartphone. You can even customize the Vocca to turn on and off using a special word, or on a schedule. It’s an adapter, not a light bulb, so it works with pretty much any standard-style bulb. If anything, check out Vocca’s cheesy and admittedly entertaining pitch video, and you can still get in on some early release deals as well.

Remember that guy who posted the not-really-serious but still kinda serious kickstarter to make some potato salad? He was looking to raise all of ten bucks, and the campaign just ended, so how did it end up? With over $55,000 in pledges from almost 7,000 backers. So what’s Zach Brown gonna do with enough money to make several lifetimes worth of his favorite side dish?

Make a LOT of potato salad for backers at a future “PotatoStock” festival in Ohio, and also give a lot of the money to The Columbus Foundation, which will distribute it to various assistance organizations. Some cash will also fund Brown’s production company, which he says will be “a for-profit venture and its goal will be to spread humor and joy around the world.”

Seems like a good use for a lot dough intended to make a little bit of salad.

Your host today is Caleb Denison.

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