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Humans have toiled for millennia building our civilization. Ever the opportunists, mice have enjoyed a free ride all along. They've feasted in our granaries, infested our cities and munched on our garbage. Despite all our supposed technical ingenuity, we're still trying to work out the best way to catch these little critters. Or at least the ones that scurry around our homes and businesses.
When our domesticated cats and terriers failed to kill the rodents that beleaguered us, we turned to poison and spring-loaded traps -- two options that remain in use today, yet still feel far from perfect. We've crafted cages to catch them, electric cylinders to shock them, strangulation traps to steal their breath, bladed mechanism to severe their little heads and glue traps to stick them to the spot.
The Rentokil RADAR mousetrap even incorporates Internet-age technology. Lasers and pressure sensors on the device detect a mouse's presence. Then it seals shut, gasses its hapless victim with a lethal dose of carbon dioxide and sends you a nifty text message to let you know the mouse is dead.
Yet the rats and mice are still out there -- and we still turn to our cruder designs to cull their impossible numbers. Surely we can do better.
So what's your big idea for tomorrow's mousetrap? Whether you have blueprints and a patent or just a doodle and a cockamamie scheme, we'd love to hear it. Send your designs for a better mousetrap to BuildaBetter@HowStuffWorks.com with the subject line "Build a Better Mousetrap." We're looking for one of the following: 1) an article with 500 words or fewer describing your proposed innovation or 2) an image gallery with 5-10 pictures of something you've actually built or 3) a detailed illustration of your superior mousetrap.
Hurry. You only have until July 22, 2011, to do so. After that, we're snapping the trap on your mousy ideas and publishing our five favorite entries. Winners will receive some free swag and see their mousetrap innovations published on our site.
What are you waiting for? Jot down those ideas and scurry on over! And keep them coming. We're looking to make lots of things better over the next few months, not just mousetraps.
Send us your ideas at BuildaBetter@HowStuffWorks.com.