CPhS: Technical fairy tales and fake news in 1924


Technical Fairy Tales and Fake News in 1924

In the early twenties of the previous century, electricity was still new to the wider public. A topic for fake news as well. The Dutch Minister of War was approached by “intermediaries” to invest in “fantastic” inventions that could make any enemy refrain from war. Fake news at that time. Still, some of the suggested results are familiar now: laser and navigation systems.
From our archives:

Belongs to the letter from the Minister of War dated 13 January 1925, Secret Litt. C.3
Transcription    [The untranslated German text can be found on the Dutch page]


In recent years, numerous scientific and unscientific attempts have been made to address the problem of wireless and remote electrical ignition. The experiments that became known to me were based solely on the effectiveness of electric airwaves without their forced conduction.
Under such an assumption, the intended outcome could not be achieved, even from the most primitive point of view.
The basic idea, the use of a light cone, caused by a highly frequented lamp in connection with a strong reflector for refraction of the light rays, in a specially calculated and manufactured lens, leads to the following outcome.


Distance: 50000 m
Primary voltage: 110 volts three-phase current
Secondary voltage: 9 million volts three-phase current
I assume that I direct the light of a high-frequency lamp from 2000 candles into the reflector in such a way that the light source is only open at the reflector side. The light rays refract in the reflector and rush to the continental lens, which serves the purpose of refracting the horizontally incident light rays at the focal point at the centre of its optical effectiveness.
This creates the light cone, which can be adjusted depending on the target distance. It is known and scientifically determined that the surface mobility of light sources corresponds to the sea waves; namely, the wave course after refraction through the lens is significantly higher and flattens out towards the focal point. Here I was looking for a final solution to the forced conduction of the force waves.
The accompanying drawing [unfortunately not present in our archives] shows the wave path of the light waves.
I assumed:

    1. A light source of 200 candles was increased to 80,000 candles by the reflector. With a reflector strength of 80,000 candles, according to the lens I assumed at the focal point at a distance of 50,000 m, a focal point boiling heat of approx. 40,000 °C would occur.
    2. I have 110 volts of direct current, exactly frequented at a low voltage frequency of 22 periods. I transform these 110 volts into 2 million volts of a three-phase current with an increased frequency of 3,200 periods using a specially designed voltage converter. Here I lead the circuit a 1 through x, from there through an amplifier relay, from where the force waves are thrown into the first cone of light in such a way that a force wave comes to rest in the high arc of the light waves. Because the immense light intensity in and of itself causes the molecules in the light cone to move transcendentally, the force wave is forced through the movement of the molecules and therefore does not reach the atmosphere surrounding the air cone. So it follows that, while the wave size from the transmitting point always expands in wireless telephony and wireless telegraphs, here the force rejuvenates itself towards the focal point in the light cone space and ends into an electrically charged sphere at the focal point. So I would now have the focal point of the circuit a 1 electrically charged.

Result: 40,000 °C charged with a high voltage of 2 million volts.
The power circuit a 2, which is fed by the same transformer, takes place in the same way and flows through and into the 2nd light cone, which can be set up by the second transmitting station at any distance from the first. Now the two focal points have to be pointed towards the target, and this is best achieved using levelling devices. Based on the data I have considered, the effective spark length will become active as the two focal points approach each other to approximately 150 cm. Here they form a boiling ellipse of 2 x 40,000 °C between these two focal points, electrically charged with 2 x 2 million volts, so that no matter on earth, neither a primal material nor an artificially hardened armour plate, no matter how strong, can withstand the effective effectiveness. In a fraction of a second, everything within the effective spark length between these two focal points is completely dissolved.

Signed. [illegible]
Engineer [illegible]
Switzerland. Dipl. engineer

Copy of the intermediary’s accompanying explanation of the above.
Berlin February 10, 1924
Markgravenstr. 181

To His Excellency the Minister of War, The Hague

Your Excellency,

I could not respond immediately to your letter dated December 27, because the two engineers – inventors of the “Fernzunder” demanded an advance payment and these gentlemen kept me waiting after regular advances. 20 another important invention had meanwhile brought a desired improvement, after quite long intervals, on a modest scale and with primitive equipment, produced the expected results. An accompanying exposé (Fernentzunder) provides the best possible insight into this important invention.

To date, I have spoken to no one about this, except with the two inventors and five gentlemen who assisted with the preliminary tests. In my opinion, this invention has made the Fernzunder aimless.
During my visit to your department, I had already spoken a few words about this with Mr. O[…], but then this invention was only in its first stage. Since then, we have continued to work on it and I have supported the gentlemen financially. The very important inventions mentioned in my previous letter are those mentioned here, I, II and III. It is no longer possible for me to finance these important inventions for defence on land and water, and I politely ask Your Excellency for a loan of 50,000 Mrk. (or from a private person). The amount is not required all at once but in parts and this can be done as follows: be sent to the envoy and controlled by Z.Ex.
I can return this amount after 2 months, as I have sold a South American state 200,000 rifles with 200 million cartridges to be exported from England (with the permission of the English government). Your Excellency can also have the embassy investigate this and I am prepared to explain everything.
After our inventions have been demonstrated, any amount will be available to me.
Since I have to handle this matter in a very sensitive way, I cannot ask anyone else for financing.
I am willing – provided permission from the Dutch. Reg., afterwards, to build 3 or 4 devices in Holland. The Fernentzunder is so deterrent as a weapon that it will, if not prevent it, certainly limit it any war. Its use in airships and boats is even more striking.

Awaiting your response, I have the honour to be, with the highest regard,

Your Ex. dw. servant,
(signed) H.A.J. H[…],

Copy of the appendix with the said explanation.

    1. A new type of submarine, 2-3 and 4000 tons, without wheel, propeller or rudder, speed on water 150 K.M., under water 65 K.M. Taken up space for all Machines 3 to 4 M3. Load capacity 5 x more than existing.
    2. A new airship system, without a propeller, rudder, or gas, speed 550 K.M. per hour; carrying capacity 325 K.Gr. per M2, possibly more.
    3. A new type of steamboat, 1 – 3,000 tons (fleet destroyer) speed 125 – 150 K.M. per hour, with special engine for electric “Fernentzunder I – II – IlI” have the newly discovered Ri-spiral system (principle waterhosen, Windhosen) brilliantly performed in the experiment. The most important goals (18) have been patented in 23 different countries and registered in 7. These have not yet been offered to any State. Some of the patented parts may also be suitable for large-scale industries.
    4. Navigation system for the Navy (Sea Shipping), Aircraft, Airships, Automobiles, etc.
      This ingenious device regulates the speed itself, and registers everything very accurately so that in the future one can travel safely in the darkest night, in the worst fog, thunderstorms and mist, and correctly find the route taken again and return to the destination, arrives at the destination correctly or returns it to the departure point. Records all deviations and changes, depth, etc.
      Extensive exposé stated in the patent document.


The phenomenon of “Drahtlosen Fernentzündung” was “marketed” as early as 1914!

[Innsbrücker Nachrichten] Saturday 18. July 1914
Milan, July 18th. Engineer Ulivi, whose invention of wireless remote ignition of explosives caused a stir, has disappeared from Florence with his fiancée, the daughter of an admiral, after demolishing his devices. The matter is all the more striking because the bride’s parents made no difficulties regarding their daughter and only stipulated the condition that Ulivi carry out a decisive test of his invention. This rehearsal was finally scheduled for yesterday after several postponements.