Kyle VanHemert, Wired
“It’s kind of a wacky intro, but stick with me, it gets good.”
Thus Andy Cruz begins the tale of how his design studio and type foundry, House Industries, ended up creating a brand identity for a futuristic space engine called the Cannae Drive—technology that could potentially cut travel time to Mars from months to mere weeks, overturning the law of conservation of momentum along the way.
The unlikely project came by way of an even less likely referral. It was holiday season 2010, and Cruz and House Industries co-founder Rich Roat were at an event in New York. They ran into Joel Hodgson, creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He was familiar with their work, which includes the typefaces used for the Lucky Charms logo and Green Day’s Dookie album cover, to name a few. And they were familiar with Hodgson’s work, which includes Mystery Science Theater 3000. Everyone got to chatting, and eventually Hodgson made an unusual request: He wanted the designers to meet his neighbor.
That neighbor turned out to be Guido P. Fetta. Over the course of several years, Fetta had developed what he considered a revolutionary engine technology. (Fetta’s background is in marketing for pharmaceutical companies, though he studied chemical engineering in college). He dubbed it the Cannae Drive.
Instead of relying on fuel or nuclear reactors, Fetta’s design bounces microwaves around a specially-shaped container, creating changes in radiation pressure that ultimately generate thrust. It could have all sorts of applications, including vastly reducing the waste involved in launching satellites into orbit. And while it’s true that futuristic space drives and independent inventors generally are viewed with skepticism, the Cannae Drive got a fairly huge endorsement last week when NASA published the results of its own tests: Inexplicably, it worked. (Granted, this may still be an experimental glitch. Only time will tell.)