I thought this rotating house was impossible.

I thought this rotating house was impossible.

Near San Diego, California, there’s a rotating house: and somehow, all the utilities, the electricity, gas and water, work even on the rotating part. How’s that possible? ■ Al’s site: https://rotatinghome.com ■ The real estate listing: http://navrealestate.co/4903-mount-helix-dr

This is not an advert; I received no payment other than access and had full editorial control.

Camera: Juan Gracia, Bream Velasquez
Local production: @TwoBitDaVinci
Graphics: Stijn Orlans

I’m at https://tomscott.com
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott
on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott
and on Instagram as tomscottgo

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54 Responses

  1. Tom Scott says:

    I didn’t have time to fit it in the video, but: on the basement floor, in the non-rotating part, there’s another turntable: so you can park your car and not have to reverse out!

  2. The Engineering Mindset says:

    As soon as I read “rotating house” my brain went into overdrive trying to think of ways the services could work. Interesting to see how he achieved it through slips rings.

    • Daithi says:

      my brain even started spinning

    • Raiden says:

      @Daithi hahaha same – when I saw the solution I was blown away by it. Incredibly clever.

    • OeschMe says:

      I had multiple ideas, most of which wouldn’t have worked. The actual method certainly was most genius.

    • Stubby Phillips says:

      Not just slip rings, but slip rings with built-in leak detection!

    • Simon Chadwick says:

      Today this could be done by the house moving to a “service position”, say once a week at 2am, in which a fresh water tank is refilled, grey/waste water tanks are emptied, and the battery bank is recharged (if roof solar was not sufficient). Internet would be via point-to-point WiFi. Automated actuators would engage quick-release couplings for the fluid exchanges. Of course this would not be nearly as elegant as the existing solution!

  3. Leon Ponce says:

    This house is a piece of engineering art. Can’t just be sold to anyone with money. It needs someone who will take care of it.

  4. Josh says:

    Not only did he make parts, but he also made them in a manner that they had redundancy. The man is truly a genius engineer.

    • Interdimensional says:

      When you engineer for yourself you overengineer. When you do it for a corporation you don’t include an immobilizer because it saves you 1/2 cent per car.

    • Connor Darvall says:

      @Interdimensional So what you’re saying is that every engineer hoards all the good engineering for themselves and theoretically, all engineer houses are full of secret (and probably illegal) gadgets?

    • Cam Hadland says:

      @Connor Darvall You ever been to an engineer’s house? Because you’ve described it perfectly.

  5. Eoin Mordaunt says:

    Tom got incredibly lucky to actually have the guy who built it explain it

  6. Kerman Guy says:

    As a science fiction author, hearing about how the utilities were transferred through a rotating bearing is so incredibly helpful for designing rotating space stations.

    • DooDooBumMan says:

      you have chapters that go into detail about where the space station poo poo goes?

    • Frostyblade 88 says:

      @PooPooDingDong456456  Like with any good world, building up the little details are very important. Readers appreciate those things so it’s good to include them

    • TheMsLourdes says:

      @DooDooBumMan Chapters, no. A line or a paragraph here and there, sure, I could see that.

    • Kerman Guy says:

      @DooDooBumMan It’s very hard science fiction. Chapters? No. Is it mentioned? Yes, and I want it to be accurate.

    • Blackholebirb says:

      @Kerman Guy ay a fellow hard science fiction writer 😀

  7. Rudy says:

    I really felt for him when he explained why they’re selling the house, he’s a guy filled with love and compassion

  8. Mason says:

    Kudos to whoever did the graphics. Made a very difficult concept quite easy to understand.

  9. Christopher Monaco says:

    Wasn’t expecting to see the homeowner being the person who designed and built the house. How awesome!

    • Rick James says:

      It’s easy to take credit when you’re the one paying the help.

    • The_ Knife_Pie says:

      @Rick James Sure except he invented and patented technology to make the house work and I doubt he let just anyone install a cutting edge piece of plumbing. This man very well can claim a large portion of the credit for this house’s construction, and not just because he funded it

  10. GyroCannon says:

    This is a man who definitely earned his success. The man got a patent just to get his house built, ignored all the haters, and fixed problems that less competent people left behind. A true genius.

    • angermyode says:

      We don’t know how he got to be rich enough to do this. Just because he’s smart enough to manage this vanity, project doesn’t mean he deserves his success. He could have inherited his money or made from a payday loan company.

    • Ahmed Geblawi says:


    • Man Delorean says:

      Oh stop, there’s no “haters” .. ffs that’s a cop out word for people who don’t understand, others can know more than themselves.

    • error.dELETE says:

      @angermyodeif he inherited the money required to do this the probability he would have designed and built it mostly himself is close to zero.

      People who don’t work for their money make their money work for them.

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