9 Potentially World-Changing Inventions That Never Came to Be
Inventions have shaped the world we know. From agriculture to the wheel to iPhones, all around us are examples of grand ideas by inventors and schemers who had the persistence and luck to make their dreams reality. However, not all the brilliant ideas thought up have come to fruition.
This list gathers nine inventions that the world has lost, that may have radically changed the way we live today. Be warned!Hhistory has a way of bending facts - some of the stories in this list we may never know the full truth about.
1. Global wireless power
Nikola Tesla, the Serbian inventor, is credited with many life-changing inventions including alternating current. But one of his greatest ideas unfortunately never took off. Tesla boasted he had a plan for a low-cost global power and communication system.
He claimed this system would allow for "the transmission of electric energy without wires" on a global scale. The worldwide system would also allow for point-to-point wireless telecommunications and broadcasting.
He spoke publicly about his ideas from the mid-1890s onwards and by the end of 1900, he had secured funding for the project from the banker J.P Morgan. However, due to many reasons including a withdrawal of funding from Morgan, the project was abandoned in 1906 and never resurrected.
In 1972, an Italian newspaper shocked the world when it published details of a secret machine held by the Vatican in Rome. Called Chronovision, the machine reportedly let its users see into the past.
The article explained that the machine allowed priests and officials to see important events in the past including the death of Jesus. It was reportedly invented by Father Pellegrino Maria Ernetti in the 1950s.
Originally a physicist, Ernetti later became a priest and took his invention with him into the Vatican. Despite there being no proof the invention exists many believe it is still being used today - deep in the vault of the Vatican.
Many inventions are created by enthusiastic amateurs. Starlite, an incredibly heat-resistant magical material, is one of them. Developed by amateur chemist and hairdresser Maurice Ward in the 1980s, the material is said to be able to withstand extreme heat and act as both an insulator and protectant.
Ward claimed that Starlite was able to withstand an attack by a laser beam and could protect a human hand from being burned by a blowtorch at close range. Ward died in 2011 and took the secrets of Starlite's composition to the grave with him. He reportedly only told his close family members how to create the incredible product, but so far there have been no efforts to commercially produce it.
4. Ogle’s carburetor
Tom Ogle is credited with inventing a system that massively increased the efficiency of fuel injected engines. On April 30 1977, Ogle unveiled his invention to the world, a 1970 Ford Galaxie that had been modified so that it could achieve the remarkable 100 miles per gallon.
Unmodified the same car only got about 13 miles per gallon. He was interviewed soon after by the journalist Ron Laytner who asked him if he was afraid of oil companies coming after him. Ogle replied saying, “No. Not anymore. I’ve had too much publicity. If I’d kept my invention a secret I might be worrying. But there’s nothing to worry about anymore.”
Sadly, Ogle died in mysterious circumstances just three years after first premiering his invention. With his death, the secrets of his invention were also buried.
5. Flexible Glass
Flexible glass is said to have been invented during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar (between 14–37 AD). The story goes that a craftsman presented a glass cup to Caeser who after drinking from it threw it to the ground. Only the glass didn’t shatter, it only dented, which was quickly fixed by the craftsman with a small hammer.
Caeser asked the master craftsman if he had shared the secrets of his invention with anyone else, to which he replied no. Caeser then immediately ordered for the man to be killed and his workshop burned down so the secrets of the miraculous product could never be shared.
Many say Caeser was scared the flexible product would devalue gold and other materials.
6. Sloot digital coding system
In 1995, the Norweigan electronic engineer, Romke Jan Bernhard Sloot claimed to have invented a data compression technique that could compress a movie file down to just 8 kilobytes of data. In another mysterious inventors death, Sloot died of an unexpected heart attack, just days before he was to sell the source code for the invention.
As the transaction never occurred the code was never recovered and his claims were unable to be verified.
7. Palladium Cigarette
The palladium cigarette also known as the XA cigarette was reportedly invented by Ligget Myers in the 1950s. The cigarette was made in a way that would reduce the toxic side effects of regular cigarettes making the habit much less deadly over time.
However, the story goes that the cigarette company, despite spending over 10 million dollars on research and development for the product eventually abandoned the idea for fear of large amounts of civil lawsuits against them for selling the ‘unhealthy’ cigarettes.
It is also suspected that Ligget Myers didn’t want to break ranks with other large tobacco corporations like Benson and Hedges who they often joined forces with to lobby.
8. Greek Fire
Greek fire was a weapon developed by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire around the year c. 672. The substance could continue burning even when it landed on water, making it a perfect weapon for naval battles at the time.
It is said to have been a key reason for many Byzantine military victories at the time including the defense of Constantinople from two separate Arab sieges. The exact mixture of Greek fire was a closely guarded state secret but many contemporary chemists assume it to be a combination of pine resin, naphtha, quicklime, calcium phosphide, sulfur, or niter.
Made famous by the 1985 song by Kate Bush, the Cloudbuster is a device invented by the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich who said it could produce rain by manipulating 'orgone energy" present in the atmosphere. The invention reportedly worked by directing it into the sky while it was grounded in the earth or water.
The machine would direct the orgone energy into the atmosphere causing rain clouds to form. The invention was never proven to be a success.
Verena Mohaupt, logistics coordinator of MOSAiC, Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, talks about the perilous journey.