The spectacle of a large fish getting fired out of a cannon has taken the internet by storm.
But the Whooshh Fish Transport System uses straightforward physics to solve a complex environmental problem.
When placed inside an airtight tube, you can force objects forward by pressurizing air behind it or evacuating the air ahead of it.
The pressure gradient exerts a net force on the object inside, accelerating it until it exits the tube.
This technique precisely transports materials throughout hospitals, banks, and launches fruit from tree to truck.
A brilliant application by Whooshh Innovations — to use this technique on salmon — is solving a pressing environmental problem.
While human-created dams generate useful, green energy, they disrupt a river’s natural flow.
In Oregon and Washington, dams also disrupt the natural spawning runs of the indigenous salmon.
The traditional solution — of installing salmon ladders — stresses even the strongest salmon, sapping their strength.
Gargantuan, ladder-less dams were entirely impassable, until the application of Whooshh’s salmon cannon.
In 2014, the first salmon cannons were successfully tested at Washington’s Roza Dam.
Thanks to this invention, the Columbia river’s original salmon runs should someday be fully restored, even with the dams present.