In 1970 British Rail patented a design for a flying saucer. However, this fact is not ‘recently uncovered,’ as the lax journos at BBC News Online would have you believe. Tsk.
The document was perfectly well known back in the mid-90s, when Patent Office staff showed me a copy. Until about three months ago, I even hosted the text and illustrations online, at my old Demon space. I’d even be able to prove this, if the Internet Archive was talking to me right now.
What I’ve never managed to track down is the fabled patent for a cat-powered anti-ballistic missile defense system. The Patent Office’s new search system is good, but not that good.
[update: harrumph. Also on The Register and Slashdot. It’s apparently also in the Guardian today, but you know what? I just can’t be bothered to look.]