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The YesBut Interview: The Mind Behind The Beer Launcher

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We're talking today with the rarest of internet phenomena -- someone who's gone viral without sacrificing his dignity. John Cornwell became pseudo-famous last week without singing obscure Moldovan pop songs or running head-first through a fence or using archaic racial slurs.

His Beer Launcher has been featured everywhere, from MetaCafe to Wikipedia to Core77. And he now follows the trail blazed by such legends as K.C. Armstrong and the Naked Cowboy -- sitting down with YesButNoButYes.

You don't just wake up one morning and invent the Beer Launcher. I'm sure you were dreaming up crazy stuff throughout your childhood. What else have you done?

John Cornwell: Well, I started at an early age creating “Rube Goldberg” type machines. I loved investigating how different objects interacted and I think this has translated directly into engineering skill and intuition now. I guess the second coolest device I have made is a tennis ball launcher (pneumatic potato cannon), that launches tennis balls at around 500 mph.

YesButNo: 500mph? Is that legit? What are the practical applications of this device? Was it funded by the military?

John Cornwell: Yes, I believe the 500mph is a legit number. I could only get the launcher to shoot through the beams of my homemade chronograph at 40 psi, and the speed was 300 mph. I normally use the launcher at 100psi and if crunch the numbers you will see at 100 psi, 500 mph is not an unreasonable estimate. The “practical applications” include shooting through sheets of plywood, through tennis rackets, and also shooting down model airplanes with pebbles as buckshot. It wasn’t funded by the government, in fact it only cost about $100 and took a weekend or two to build.

YesButNo: Let's get back to the Launcher. How about the effects of alcohol on the person catching the launched beer? Done any informal testing? Any injuries to report?

John Cornwell: There have been no horrendous accidents caused by alcohol consumption. It did misfire once in my earlier testing stages though. The launcher was aimed directly at my brand new 42” DLP TV and just barely sailed over the top of the TV smashing into the wall behind it. I let out a huge sigh of relief at that point.

YesButNo: We're heading into the spring holiday season – St. Patrick's Day, Father's Day, high school graduation. If one of our readers wanted to purchase your crafty invention as a gift, how would he or she go about doing that?

John Cornwell: I am actually not sure if I am going to start producing them or not. I am very worried about the liability issues. It is, after all, a device which hurls heavy objects at your head!

If necessity is, as they say, the mother of invention, how lazy is the general public? Are people really unable to get off the couch?

John Cornwell: Considering that this device took me about 150 hours of my spare time to construct, I wouldn’t say I personally am a lazy person. It was really meant to be a fun, silly device that my friends and I could laugh about. I will admit though, I actually do use it for its intended purpose, and it’s a great feeling to crave a beer, push a button, and have one come flying in your direction.

YesButNo: What's next for you? Can you make a living selling the Beer Launcher? Anything else in the pipeline?

John Cornwell: Although there has been more interest than I expected, let’s just say that I am not ready to quit my day job over a beer launcher. I do have a couple things I am planning for the future, but I think I will let everybody wait and see…

YesButNo: This last question doesn't have anything to do with you, per se. But I'm filling out my bracket and asking everyone. Does Louisville have a shot to sneak out of the South? And how about your Dukies? Are they going down to VCU? Please advise.

John Cornwell: I am not sure about Louisville, but it WAS painful for me to put down Duke going all the way in my bracket this year (I just HAVE to, it’s the rule). I do know for a fact though, that win or lose, I am still going to be launching/drinking a ton of beer!

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