In 1959, William Bertelsen became the unlikely star of a national science magazine.
He wasn't a scientist. He was the country doctor of Neponset, Ill., his hometown of 500 people; he was married, with three girls and one boy. In all his days at school, he hadn't taken a single class in aerodynamics, and only took one course in physics.
Then, at 38, his career in cooking up futuristic, unorthodox vehicles began.
It was a mild June day when reporters from Popular Science knocked on his door, eager to photograph the newly developed "car without wheels" in his backyard. Bertelsen thought that he—and his invention—had made it big.
This June, it was Bertelsen who knocked on the magazine's proverbial door to play catch-up. Now 88, he works part-time at a radiology clinic, and is still playing the role of amateur inventor. His life story was so fascinating that we decided to profile him again, nearly 50 years later. To put it simply, his invention (which today we'd call a hovercraft) never panned out. But it's a bit more complicated than that.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.