Invisibility At Last Within Grasp of Man (Oct, 1936)

Something tells me Modern Mechanix got scammed on this one. My guess is the two Hungarian guys got some investment funding and then vanished into thin air along with the cash.

Invisibility At Last Within Grasp of Man

by A.L. White

Two Hungarian scientists solve age-old quest with devices worthy of Arabian nights wizards.

SUPPOSE that out onto a stage come eight chorus girls performing an intricate dance. Gradually something seems to happen, the heads, faces, and upper parts of the bodies of the girls seem to be disappearing. In fact, little by little they do become invisible to the audience until at last only eight pairs of legs are seen gracefully skipping about on the stage in perfect rhythm. You rub your eyes and begin to think you’d better see an oculist right away, but while you are worrying about it, back into your vision come the eight girls, wholly there and dancing gaily as though they had not just given you the shock of a lifetime. Or suppose again that a girl is sitting atop a piano, singing. The piano begins to fade from sight; finally the girl is left sitting in midair, nonchalantly swinging her feet and blithely singing, as though her perch was perfectly substantial.

If you did not think that you were just “seeing things,” right off you’d say, “Some invisible wires, or anyway, a cleverly arranged set of mirrors.” But you would be wrong in your guess. At least so says Mr. Adam Gosztonyi, the inventor of a machine which he claims can accomplish just such disappearing acts as have been described.

In a demonstration of this machine recently the stage was set with a backdrop of wide red and white stripes. A chair, lifted from among the onlookers so that all could see that it was genuine, was placed in front of this conspicuous background. Then a young man—a very substantial young man—who had been walking around among the onlookers, stepped onto the stage and sat down in the chair. Soon he grew dim in appearance, became sort of thin vapor so that the striped backdrop was visible through the outlines of his body. Then he disappeared completely. But the chair remained, whole and firm, and the young man continued talking to the onlookers as an evidence of his presence. His disappearance, nevertheless, was to all intents and purposes so absolutely real that when the inventor called to the operator of the machine to bring the young man back to sight, one of the onlookers exclaimed: “But suppose you should ever fail to bring him back. What then?”

But the operator did bring the young man back, only to try the experiment all over again, but this time the young man moved about, did a few jig steps with his feet, etc. The disappearing effect began with his head and slowly worked down over his body until only the feet were left, dancing about.

Modern inventors seem to have found the answers to all the Arabian Nights riddles, with suddenly appearing and disappearing genii and mysterious cloaks that make persons invisible. But according to the modern explanation, this is not magic, it is an application of rays of invisible light. Mr. Gosztonyi says: “It is a combination of lights and shadows. . . . The machine produces rays of invisible light—some rays of great intensity, some of minor intensity. They play one against the other.” Anyway, it seems like magic.

Another Hungarian by the name of Stephen Pribil, a professor of optics, has invented a machine producing “invisible rays.” This machine has the effect of making parts of an object apparently fade away, leaving the insides exposed.

In a black-curtained cabinet similar to the stage for a marionette show stands a small radio, on which lights were focused. It is obviously and undoubtedly a real, three-dimensional radio. Gradually the outside case of the radio becomes dim, then fades completely away, leaving exposed to gaze the inside works, the tubes and metal parts. While the onlooker, in amazement, feels that he certainly cannot believe his eyes, the outlines of the case begin to reappear, and at last again the whole radio, case and all, is to be seen.

This is no illusion done by some magician, no trick of mirrors, it is asserted, but an actual performance of a new device which produces and projects what, for lack of a better name, may be called an “invisible ray.” The apparatus, itself, looks like a long tool box from which cords like telephone or electric cords extend. Lights are projected onto any object placed within the cabinet. The effects of disappearance and reappearance are obtained, it is explained, by synchronization of invisible rays.

These rays apparently have no effect so far as changing or subduing color is concerned, for in one cabinet was an arrangement of a display of cigarettes. In the background is a brilliantly colored picture of a girl, somewhat on the Spanish type, with a bright yellow broadbrimmed hat, green earrings, and generally vivid coloring.

This is a flat picture. In front of the picture is arranged a display of a carton of cigarettes—the actual carton, not a picture—a real cigarette holder, and some small boxes of cigarettes scattered around. When the “invisible ray” is leveled upon this display, the small boxes of cigarettes and the cigarette holder completely disappear, the outside carton falls away leaving neatly packed cigarettes standing alone, and the picture in the background fades and in its place appears another picture of a girl dressed as an airplane hostess with her arm thrown around a large police dog. This combination, in turn, slowly fades, giving place to the original picture with all its brilliant coloring, the complete carton of cigarettes, the holder and boxes.

In order to have no doubt of the genuineness of the displays, the onlookers handled the cigarette holder and boxes. Then on the suspicion that these displays might have been “fixed,” they tried their own experiments. A case with eye glasses was placed in the cabinet. This completely disappeared, to reappear gradually in a few seconds.

Someone slipped in his hand. It was distinctly seen for a moment, then disappeared, although the person who had put his hand into the cabinet had not changed his position or withdrawn his hand. While the hand was invisible, the owner of the hand rapped on the carton of cigarettes to prove that it was there. The carton at the time also was invisible. The onlookers could hear the rap on the metal surface but could see neither hand nor carton. Then the hand reappeared, as also did the whole scene of the picture of the Spanish girl, the cigarette carton, and the rest.

This latter device is now being demonstrated for the first time in this country to show its possibilities as a fascinating advertising medium in window displays and the like.

6 comments
  1. Stannous says: October 31, 20063:49 pm

    Another reference to the mysterious Dr Pribil (part of fascinating article about odd science):
    http://www.hbci.com/~we…
    Years earlier in Hungary (1936), Stephen Pribil demonstrated an “invisibility system”. His system utilized special heterodyned light beams to render objects transparent and even invisible. Under the beams produced by his special lamps, opaque objects gradually became transparent. The effect could be controlled, optical transparencies sustained at specific “intensities”. Radio cabinets, exposed to his lamps, faded from view. Astounded witnesses saw through the cabinets, while the interiors stood out with amazing clarity. Metal parts, tubes, and chassis could be seen darkly shining through the wooden enclosures.

    Allowed to thoroughly handle each part of his apparatus as well as the objects made transparent, it was also obvious that the system actually worked. He rendered transparent any object they wished by his extraordinary method. What became of Mr. Pribil, his device, and his theories remains a mystery. In what manner spaces are distorted by very ordinary energies remains part of the scientific record. Numerous instances in which these strange phenomena make themselves apparent have been noted. The sharp black edges which surround grounded iron materials and evergreen trees seem to be related to the more extreme electrogravitic phenomena in outward appearance at the very least.

  2. Casandro says: November 1, 20061:25 am

    Well, according to this: http://www.defenserevie…
    the US military is investing in such things.

    And this: http://www.saferplane.c… is the homepage of the company that’s developing that technology. According to some reports, they call their chief scientist “Dr. Z”.

  3. kitty-carroll.org » No flying cars, either says: November 21, 20067:30 pm

    [...] Seventy years ago, this was the pitch: Suppose that out onto a stage come eight chorus girls performing an intricate dance. Gradually something seems to happen, the heads, faces, and upper parts of the bodies of the girls seem to be disappearing. In fact, little by little they do become invisible to the audience until at last only eight pairs of legs are seen gracefully skipping about on the stage in perfect rhythm. You rub your eyes and begin to think you’d better see an oculist right away, but while you are worrying about it, back into your vision come the eight girls, wholly there and dancing gaily as though they had not just given you the shock of a lifetime. Or suppose again that a girl is sitting atop a piano, singing. The piano begins to fade from sight; finally the girl is left sitting in midair, nonchalantly swinging her feet and blithely singing, as though her perch was perfectly substantial. [...]

  4. RangerGordon says: March 9, 20087:18 am

    I love the photo caption: “At right, photo shows the girl completely invisible.”

    Well, hell, yeah! Hope the photog got paid for that one. I’ve taken lost of pics of invisible girls.

  5. Oliver says: March 31, 20084:18 pm

    Well, the last thing I want is a machine to make girls invisible.. what a bizarre idea. i would however, pay good money for a machine that makes girls visible WHERE THERE WERE NO GIRS BEFORE. In fact, I think I’ll start in and make one right now. First I must find an old wardrobe and a huge collection of radio tubes…

  6. [...] blurbs announce the achievements of each of these luminaries. Achievements like those of Stephan Pribil (the gentleman in front of the control panel with the leather gloves on), who created a ray that [...]

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