How Clifford Stoll Sells Klein Bottles From Under His House


Clifford Stoll wrote one of my favorite books, The Cuckoo’s Egg, and then went a little goofy about the future of the Internet. But that’s OK because Cliff now sells Klein Bottles, “a one-sided surface which, if traveled upon, could be followed back to the point of origin while flipping the traveler upside down,” from his home.

The most interesting thing, however, is his homebrew logistics system that he installed in his crawlspace. The system uses a little robot that scoots around in the recesses of his house, grabs a box, and tilts it back so it doesn’t fall off. He installed a little camera system on it so he can watch what he’s picking up and he controls the lifter with the motor from an old car. It’s an amazing little hack.

The video, created by Brady Haran of Numberphile shows a wacky-haired Stoll talking about this bottles and his amazing storage system. Leave it to a true geek to create such a complete and elegant little solution with a few motors and some planning.