Tales of Future Past v2

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Death Ray Potpourri

Death Rays

But we shouldn't let the glamour of the more successful (?) death-ray engineers overshadow those never-say-die souls who soldiered on in pursuit of a dream. Let us rather salute the pluck and determination of those unsung would-be mad scientists and megalomaniacs.

This unnamed German had a novel design for a death-ray gun that was apparently based on detonating a plug of magnesium and trying to stay out of the way.

According to reports, the gun was "capable of stunning men and animals at a one mile range," though this generally involved the inventor firing the gun from a catapult.

Dr. Antonio Longoria of Cleveland, Ohio was a rarity in the mad scientists stakes. After presenting his claim for perfecting his death ray, most notably for killing pigeons at a range of four miles, he dutifully destroyed his infernal machine for the good of humanity.

Now if only George Lucas would do the same with the Star Wars prequels.

Over in France, Henri Claudel unveiled his death ray that he called his "ray of death," which makes all the difference, I suppose.

And then there's Mr. Henry Fleur of the United States, who was sued by his backers and demonstrated to a San Francisco court that his machine  could kill termites, a lizard and a snake, but since it took up to eight and a half minutes to work it was less than the awe-inspiring spectacle anticipated.

The jury found for Mr. Fleur after one of the earliest examples of the Chewbacca Defence on record.

Another British entry going for the Grindell Matthews award is "Professor" Harry May, who in 1936 unveiled his death ray that would outlaw war. Apparently, it shot outlawing beams at anyone who mobilised without a permit.

If "Professor" May looks familiar, that's because he's the same "Professor May" who tried to revolutionise the world in 1932 with his previous invention, Alpha the robot.

From Concord, California, we have Mr. Otto H Mohr with his solar-powered death ray for the environmentally conscious megalomaniac.

And to think he started out on solar-powered fridges.

Then we present Herr Kurt Schimkus of Berlin, who exploded sea mines from two hundred yards away with his rather modest looking instrument of horror.

You can tell that young Herr Shimkus is a serious contender because he's the only mad scientist here to show up in the regulation lab coat.

And finally, we have the true Death Ray.

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