by Marc Abrahams, Improbable Research staff
Troy Hurtubise, who was awarded the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize in safety engineering, for developing and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears, has a new book out.
Here’s a passage that brings together some of the main themes. Troy reveals a few secrets about the most advanced version of his suit, the hard-shelled, shiny techno-fruit of 15 mostly unfunded years of fevered solo R&D:
“Electronically speaking, the M-7 was right out of a movie. It sported an onboard viewing screen, an onboard computer built into the thigh cavity, a bite-bar on the right forearm, a five-way voice activated radio system, and an electronic temperature monitor. For protection against the grizzly’s claws and teeth, the M-7 boasted an entire exoskeleton made up of my newly developed excalibre blunt trauma foam to dissipate the bear’s deadly power....Testing on the the M-7 [was] short and sweet. A thirty ton front-end loader in fourth gear smashed me through a non-mortared brick wall and I suffered not a bruise. The world watched the test on CNN, and then came the sheer stupidity that nearly cost me my life, the fire test. My bear research suits were never designed for fire."
Bear Man: The Troy Hurtubise Saga is published by Raven House Publishing in Westbrook, Maine, USA, and weighs in at 232 pages. This is Troy’s magnum opus, the tersely told summary of his yearnings, frustrations, triumphs, and philosophy. The book includes many of Troy’s previous writings on these subjects, augmented with a powerful-asa-riled-up-grizzly collection of previously private photos, philosophy, prose, intellectualizing, and emoting.
Troy reveals activities and feelings that broaden his almost storybook reputation as a tough, unsentimental man who loves only his family, technology, and the Canadian wilderness.
Troy shares with us a letter from Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, to whom he had sent some lightly fictionalized writings about his personal knowledge of angels. Troy says: “This great lady of ladies found the time to read my novellas and to respond to me in a letter through her Lady in waiting… I was so overwhelmed by Her Majesty’s kindness that I dedicated the third novella from the series, The Canadians, in her honor…. As for her son, Prince Charles, his letter to me was stamped confidential.”
Bear Man: The Troy Hurtubise Saga makes a lovely gift for any young girl or boy who might some day have to unexpectedly decide whether to devote a lifetime to inventing, testing, and informing the world about new ways to protect themselves against grizzly bears while doing no harm to the animals, all the while struggling to lead a good and bold and worthy life and set a fine example for the youth of today and the future.
Troy’s bear-suit research, which brought him the fame and respect he now enjoys, is best seen in the documentary Project Grizzly, produced by the National Film Board of Canada in 1996. You can watch it here.
_____________________This article is republished with permission from the May-June 2011 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!
Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.