A mishap can make you a millionaire— if you’re alert enough to recognize a million-dollar idea when it hits you.

By Robert Cutler

WOULD you recognize a million-dollar idea if you fell over it? More than one man owes his good fortune to an accident —plus his own ability to learn and profit from it. Many inventions we enjoy today are the direct results of mishaps that have made their “victims” rich.

With Harry Waters of St. Louis, though, it was not one accident but a whole series that brought him a fortune. First, a stenographer in his office spilled a glass of water on him. Due for an appointment, Waters had to get a quick pressing job—not quick enough, however, to prevent his being late. So he had to take a taxi, even though he was nearly broke and desperate for money.

Golden Signatures (Mar, 1952)

Golden Signatures

By E. R. Kurnik

Whenever great men take pen in hand, they create valuable historical documents, avidly sought after by America’s autograph collectors.

AT the National Antique Show held in . New York City recently, a New Jersey housewife presented a bundle of letters for evaluation. She had found them in her attic. Sigmund Rothschild, well-known appraiser, looked them over carefully.

“Madam,” he said excitedly, “these letters are a very important historical find.”

Six of them proved to have been written by Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary to Abram Wakeman. Rothschild valued them at more than $100,000.

Flying Gold Out of Tibet (Nov, 1936)

This seemed sadly topical.

Flying Gold Out of Tibet

Planes Invade Land of the Lamas CARRYING millions of dollars worth of gold out of Tibet by airplane is the job of a young American who has become a cabinet minister in the Government of the Panchen Lama.

Until the present, Tibet, remote and inaccessible, has resisted all encroachments of the Machine Age.

Now, the Panchen Lama, back on the throne after a 12-year exile in China, has decided to modernize the country with radios, automobiles, hydro-electric plants, and other inventions.

Boy Giant, 8 Feet Tally Weighs 365 Pounds (Jun, 1934)

Boy Giant, 8 Feet Tally Weighs 365 Pounds

ALTHOUGH but sixteen years old, Robert Wadlow, Alton, Illinois, schoolboy giant is 7 feet, 10-1/2 inches tall and weighs 365 pounds. Robert added two inches to his height in the last year, and gained twenty-five pounds. At this rate it will not be long before he will be holding world’s records for tallest and heaviest men.

Doctors are watching him closely, trying to discover the reason for his unusual growth. They do not allow him to participate in high school sports.

Exposing Houdini’s Tricks of Magic (Nov, 1929)

Exposing Houdini’s Tricks of Magic


The mechanic who made Houdini’s Trick Magic Apparatus

Harry Houdini, Prince of Magicians, carried with him to the grave the secrets of his extraordinary feats of illusion. Only one man, the artisan who made his magic apparatus, knows the working secrets of Houdini’s most mystifying stunts. That man, Mr. R. D. Adams, continues here his fascinating expose of the master magician’s methods.

HOUDINI was a master at the art of obtaining free publicity. No performer ever put on as many free shows for the purpose of breaking into print, and for that matter, few if any, were ever as liberal as he in the matter of entertaining lodges and other groups without charge. Many times he risked death in his publicity seeking stunts.


If you haven’t read it yet, here is part one.



Suicide or Siberia seemed the only ways out for the “captive brains” in the secret research camp.

By Dr. Otto Maar


(Note: In the first part of this report (September MI) by a German scientist imprisoned in Russia and forced to do research for the Reds, Dr. Maar tells how he was arrested in the East Zone of Germany and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for “espionage” and “anti- Soviet propaganda.” With other German scientists and technicians he makes a long, harrowing journey to the Russian prison camp at Kutschino, in the environs of Moscow. Here he works on “border protection devices” for the Reds and learn first-hand of their slip- shod production methods and the ignorance of some of their scientists. Conditions at Kutschino are relatively mild. But over the prisoners hangs the threat of Workuta—a dreaded prison camp in Siberia. Now continue Dr. Maar’s remarkable story . . .)


Here is part two.


An eyewitness report on the fate of German scientists enslaved behind the Iron Curtain.

By Dr. Otto Maar

FOR six months we have been imprisoned in the Bautzen detention camp—the first six months of a 25-year sentence to which we were condemned by a Soviet Military Court for supposed espionage and “anti-Soviet propaganda.” We squat all day on our bunks, because the cell is so small that we cannot move around in it.

One begins to run out of conversation after half a year and the only break comes at meal- times. It is an advantage to have studied physics and mathematics; you find many problems to ponder and in the seclusion of a cell it is easier to think out many of these than when free. But it is tiresome to solve differential equations in your head. A kingdom for a scrap of paper and a pencil!


Compton gives a nice history of the rise of American science and engineering prowess as well as making some pretty good predictions here.

Some answers to this question seem clear, and others seem very uncertain. It is safe to predict that the 2002 person will be clothed with synthetic textiles which will not fade, shrink or wrinkle and in which the desired creases will stay put. Atomic energy will be in use for special, but not for general, power purposes. Gasoline will be coming more from oil shale than from oil wells, and may be already produced commercially from coal. Cancer may then be as well under control as tuberculosis is now. Television may have proved to be an instrument to perpetuate dictatorship, or to make the democratic process more effective, depending on the trends of control and public concern.

Cancer is certainly not under control, though we do have much better treatments and shale oil is only now starting to take off but he nailed clothes, atomic power and TV.

As an aside; the design of this article is really nice, however, for people who are supposed to predict the future I wish the PM’s designers would have shown a little consideration for schmucks like me who have to scan their articles. Why didn’t they realize that putting an illustration of balloons behind the text of the article would play havoc with my already finicky OCR software? (Lest you think I’m picking on PM, Modern Mechanix also had a nasty habit of doing this.

By Dr. Karl T. Compton

Chairman of the Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology THE AMERICAN TRADITION of mechanical skill and inventiveness, often called “Yankee Ingenuity,” goes far back of the turn of this century. It grew out of the challenge of pioneer life to a people of high native intelligence engaged in forging a new way of life in an environment of rich but undeveloped resources. But our development of scientific knowledge and its useful applications is, despite a few notable predecessors like Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Henry and Thomas Edison, essentially an achievement of the last 50 years.

Edison Memorial Bulb Ready (Feb, 1938)

While we’re on the topic of Edison, what better way to memorialize him than with a giant light bulb.

Edison Memorial Bulb Ready

A GIANT electric light bulb, 14 feet high, which will surmount the $100,000 Edison Memorial Tower at Menlo Park, N. J., in commemoration of the invention of the incandescent lamp by the famous inventor, has been completed. The bulb, in position atop the 150-foot tower, will also serve as an airways beacon.

The bulb consists of 164 pieces of glass cast in two-inch diamond patterns around a steel skeleton frame. The interior features 960 incandescent lights and a 24-inch reflector.

“Did Thomas Edison Die a Poor Man? (Jan, 1932)

“Did Thomas Edison Die a Poor Man?

By Remsen Crawford

The will of Thomas A. Edison, the world’s greatest inventor, who died in mid-October, disposes of property estimated to be worth $12,000,000. It would seem impossible, then, that he could have died a comparatively poor man—yet this is the amazing conclusion of Remsen Crawford, Edison biographer and close friend of the inventor, who here presents proof in Edison’s own handwriting which indicates the inventor was “property poor.”

AS THE last man in this world to have had a personal interview with Thomas A. Edison, I am going to set down here exclusively in Modern Mechanics and Inventions the reasons why that great wizard died a poor man.