When British inventor Harry Grindell-Matthews claimed to have invented a death ray, our intrepid reporter was on it. He headed off to London to witness Grindell-Matthews perform the following four feats in his laboratory:
- He turned his invisible ray on a running engine, and it began to slow down.
- He used the ray to explode a tiny amount of gunpowder in a dish all the way across the room.
- The ray was able to light up a lamp that was unconnected to any other power source.
- It wouldn't be a death ray if it couldn't dole out a healthy dose of mortality, this time to an unfortunate mouse: "The ray, now made visible to facilitate a direct hit and appearing as a thin pencil of lavender-colored light, was trained for an instant on the little mouse. Instantly, the creature stiffened and died, with all the symptoms of violent electric shock.
Grindell-Matthews did not reveal how he produced his ray, and denied that it was ultraviolet light, but we kind of suspected at the time that he was full of it, as "the fact remains that ultraviolet light would do about what Mr. Grindell-Matthews says that his carrier beam does do."
Read the full story in Man's Most Terrible Invention.