20 Lost Inventions

1 – The Construction Methods of Edward Leedskalnin

Edward was a modest man, with a mysterious knowledge which he carried to his grave. Born in 1886, Edward was a Latvian immigrant who settled in Florida. He once said, “I have discovered the secrets of the pyramids. I discovered how the ancient Egyptians and builders in Peru, Yucatan and Asia, with simple tools, have lifted stones weighing tons “. Edward did not just speak of his discovery, he even built a castle to prove it, a theme park and museum called Coral Castle in Florida City.

With tools crafted from auto parts he raised and processed the huge blocks of stone working mostly at nights, secretly, using a flashlight as a light source. The finished blocks were placed with amazing precision.

The amount of rock used was estimated at 1,000 tons, plus 100 tons for furniture and other objects.

Many people have speculated as to how he build his castle all by himself, some would say that he used ancient magnetic levitation, anti-gravity or acoustic levitation. A popular theory is that Edward came across the secret knowledge of the Egyptians as he derived from a family of masons in Latvia. Nobody knows for sure, all we know is that Edward was really good at handling massive blocks of stones, moving them around all on his own, and that he has taken his secret to the grave.

2 – Starlite

In the 1980s, an amateur scientist called Maurice Ward, created an indestructible, heat-resistant plastic after he saw an aeroplane burst into flames.

Experiments showed that Starlite could tolerate 10,000 degrees Celsius and withstand blasts more than 75 times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb.
NASA raved about the astronautical, and security potential of Starlite but Maurice refused to part with his recipe, fearing that companies would profit from his invention.
Unfortunately in 2011, Maurice died, without passing on his secret formula, and scientists have repeatedly failed to replicate this amazing material.

However there might still be hope for Starlite. Allegedly, a company named Thermashield, a chemical startup based in California, fully acquired the technology in 2013 and has since been able to replicate the inventor’s most iconic tests with the same outstanding results. That being said, they still don’t know how the material works, but that it works it is absolutely the case. Maurice might still be the only one to fully understand this material and he is gone forever.

3 – The Ogle Carburetor

In the late 1970s, auto mechanic Tom Ogle, unveiled a device that allegedly increased auto fuel efficiency over 100mpg (42 km/l).

The black box used a high pressure vaporized fuel injection system rather than the traditional fuel pump and carburetor.
His upgrade required a reinforced gas tank and heating coils, as pulling vapor from the liquid fuel rendered it ice cold. Ogle demonstrated his prototype to reporters by driving 200 miles (322 km) from Deming to El Paso, Texas, on a 2 gallons (7.5 L) of gas.

Oil companies reportedly approached Tom with million-dollar offers to never build another machine, but Ogle refused to sell.
Tom Ogle had dreams to design and sell his own car, but he was shot by an unidentified individual in 1981. That same individual died of an overdose later that same year. The death of Tom Ogle and of his killer remains a mystery to this day and his invention may never come to be.

4 – Tesla’s Death Ray

Nikola Tesla was an inventor from Yugoslavia, he immigrated to America and became famous for many of his inventions. Tesla hated the idea of war and designed his Tesla death ray in the hopes that he could completely eliminate warfare. Imagine a beam of energy that could bring down planes from miles away with nothing but electricity. Imagine an invisible wall of energy protecting a country from invasion, acting as an electric fence that could vaporize enemy soldiers the second they step foot inside. Sounds like something most militaries would love to get their hands on, doesn’t it?

Tesla claimed that his “death ray” could bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 320 km. He reportedly carried out successful scaled tests of the weapon, but the true mode of action remained unknown. It might have been a laser or something similar which we use today. Many world powers tried to get information on his technology but Tesla refused to provide blueprints which he kept only in his mind. Upon Tesla’s death, the U.S government confiscated all of his works and inventions. Many speculate that numerous inventions that came from the U.S military after Tesla’s death were thanks to Tesla’s blueprints.

5 – Sloot Digital Coding System

In the late 1990s, Dutch inventor Bernhard Sloot claimed to have developed a revolutionary form of data compression. Called the Sloot Digital Encoding System, it was said to have been able to compress an entire movie, down to the size of 8 kilobytes. Sloot’s invention allowed him to play 16 movies simultaneously from a 64 kilobytes chip without having to read from hard drive. Sloot demonstrated the concept to Philips’ executives in 1999 and was told he was about to be, the richest man on Earth. Strangely, two days before the source code was to be handed over to Philips, Sloot was found dead in his garden, of a heart attack. Sloot’s algorithm was never recovered and it was revealed that someone had also tampered with the demonstration chip.

Some sceptics argue that Sloot was nothing more but a fraudster because such compression methods are impossible. However it may be that Sloot’s invention was not so much about compression as it is about data sharing. The principle can be compared with a concept as Adobe-postscript, where sender and receiver know what kind of data might be transferred, without the data itself actually being sent. An example would be how each current operating system has fonts, and when a web page loads you do not need to download the fonts because they are already on your computer as shared data, all you receive is information to use that font, you do not download the actual font set. Sloot’s data sharing might have been mistaken by a compression system, unfortunately we will never know for sure.

6 – The Water Powered Car

In the 1990s, Stanley Mayer was a self-thought inventor. He claimed to have invented the water powered car. His invention was taking advantage of fuel cell technology, basically splitting water into hydrogen and using hydrogen as fuel. He claimed that his car could make a trip from New York to Los Angeles on 87 gallons only. Sadly, as it is the case with a good number of genius inventors, he died suddenly of mysterious circumstances, after eating at a restaurant and running outside screaming, ‘they poisoned me’. His brother Steve claimed Meyer died in the car park after a dinner meeting with Belgian investors and had refused ‘a lot of money for the patent to his invention’. Steve also claimed ‘sharks’ came a week later and stole the the dune buggy, along with all of his brother’s experimental equipment. The story of how he died has circulated ever since, with little evidence to either confirm or deny it. Mystery still surrounds the death of Stanley Meyer, who died back in 1998. All we know for now is that Stanley Meyer had a working prototype of a car that was running only on water.

7 – The Chrono-visor

The Chrono-visor was allegedly a functional time viewer described by Father François Brune in his 2002 book (“The Vatican’s New Mystery”).

In the book, François relates that the Chrono-visor was built by Pellegrino Ernetti, an Italian priest and scientist. Although Ernetti was a real person, the existence or functionality of the Chrono-visor has never been confirmed; its alleged capabilities are strongly reminiscent of the fictional time viewer which features in Sherred’s 1947 science fiction novel.

Ernetti held a degree in quantum physics and was allegedly assisted by scientists such as Enrico Fermi and Wernher von Braun. The Chrono-visor was described as a cabinet with mysterious controls, that could read past electromagnetic radiation noise, which lingers over time. Using the machine, Erneti said that he had observed and photographed Jesus Christ’s crusifixion.

Interestingly and as provided by an anonymous relative of Father Ernetti, there was a deathbed confession, that Ernetti had written that the “photo” of Christ was indeed a “lie”. According to the same “source”, however, Ernetti also affirmed that the machine was genuinely functional.

François Brune, does not believe Ernetti’s “confession” and is convinced that the authorities had coerced Ernetti into making a false confession.

The alleged existence of the Chrono-visor has fueled a whole series of conspiracy theories, such as that the device was seized and is actually used by the Vatican or by those who secretly control governments and their economies all around the world.

8 – Flexible Glass

This is a lost invention from the time of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar (between 14 and 37 AD). The craftsman who invented the technique brought a drinking bowl made of flexible glass before Caesar, who tried to break it, whereupon the material dented, rather than shattering. The inventor then repaired the bowl easily with a small hammer. After the inventor swore to the Emperor that he alone knew the technique of manufacture, Tiberius had the man beheaded, fearing such material could undermine the value of gold and silver, since the glass might be a more valuable material.

Although we have flexible glass today such as bendable fiber optic cables, we cannot say for sure that the invention of flexible glass in the times of the Roman Empire was identical to ours today.

9 – Stradivarius Strings

Antonio Stradivari was a master at making violin strings. He lived in the 17th century, a period which saw the making of some of the greatest violins in the world. Stradivari produced string instruments with an unparalleled sound quality. He made over 1000 violins, violas and cellos, but only 650 of these instruments remain today. Stradavari passed on his methods of making the strings to his sons, but his sons did not continue the tradition. Modern string manufacturers are unable to reproduce the sound and quality of Stradivari strings. Today Stradivarius violins go for millions at auctions, and in 2011 one of his violins sold for 15 million dollars.

10 – Damascus Steel

Between the 12th and 18th century an incredible steel sword was forged in the Middle East. The legend of that sword mentions its ability to slice through other metals. The Damascus Sword’s incredible strength comes from ancient use of nanotechnology, giving the sword amazing properties of sharpness and strength. Unfortunately when the unique elements used to make the sword became less available, they couldn’t replicate the quality of the blades with other elements. As a result the production of Damascus Steel diminished and the secret method to making these legendary swords was lost forever.

11 – Greek Fire

We can’t really talk about lost inventions without mentioning Greek Fire; one of the greatest kept secrets of all time, Greek Fire was developed around 672, being used by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. The empire was in dire straits, losing several painful naval battles in wars with the Arab countries. Then, as they found themselves overwhelmed by the vast Arab fleet with few chances of success, something almost magical happened. The Byzantine ships started spitting out their new fire through specially installed siphons and the fire started consuming everything in its path, burning even on water. Nothing could put it out, except sand, vinegar or urine – not something you’d find in large quantities on any ship. And surprisingly if someone attempted to extinguish it with just water, the fire would get even more potent.

Historians speculate if it was invented by a team of chemists in Constantinopole who inherited scientific information from the Alexandrian school. Whatever the mixture included, it was probably quite complex as despite stealing or capturing some of it, other civilizations weren’t able to copy it.

As one historian recounts and attempts to describe it, he says: “From the pine and the certain such evergreen trees inflammable resin is collected. This is rubbed with sulfur and put into tubes of reed, and is blown by men using it with violent and continuous breath. Then in this manner it meets the fire on the tip and catches light and falls like a fiery whirlwind on the faces of the enemies.”

Whatever it contained, Greek Fire burned on water, and forever changed the course of history.

12 – Silphium Contraceptives

Not really an invention, Silphium was a plant used in classical antiquity both as a seasoning and as a medicine. Its importance was highlighted by the Egyptians and Knossos Minoans developing a specific glyph to represent the silphium plant, while Romans often said it was worth its weight in silver.

The plant was said to treat cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, aches and pains, warts, and all kinds of maladies but its most cherished medicinal properties were as a contraceptive; its leaves were ground into a resin that were placed directly inside women. The plant went extinct due to an increase in demand, but some speculate overgrazing and increasing desertification in North Africa were also decisive.

To this day, biologists are still debating in what family this species belong and whatever medicinal properties it could have had are forever lost.

13 – Ancient Construction Techniques

Archeologists have been debating for centuries as to how the Giza pyramids were made. Today, all we have is countless theories, the only thing we know is that ancient civilizations used construction techniques which even the modern man would have difficult time accomplishing.

One prime example of that is the Puma Punku stone wall in La Paz, Bolivia. Cut so precisely and with 90 degree angles, archeologists are still very much puzzled by Puma Punku. Anyone looking at the walls of that ancient city can only but wonder how they were cut with primitive tools. There are no viable explainations as to how ancient civilizations made those walls. And there are dozens of sites across the world with similar properties.

Perhaps in a near future we will discover how all of these ancient archaeological sites were made but for now we can only wonder at ancient accomplishments and their construction methods.

14 – The Iron Pillar

The iron pillar of Delhi, India is a pillar that is 1600 years old. At first glance, it looks like an ordinary pillar, all of 7.3 meters tall. It stands in the middle of an empty square. But take a closer look and you will see why this pillar is one of the most enigmatic structures in India. Made of iron, it should have turned into a pile of rust a long time ago, considering its age, and exposure to Delhi’s heat, dust, cold and rains. But the Iron Pillar of Delhi is no alien mystery or futuristic hoax, as some would have us believe. It is a metallurgical wonder and a testament to the knowledge and skill of India’s ancient ironsmiths.

Our modern technologies do allow us to make rust-free metals but one that is 1600 years old made with primitive tools is still a very big mystery. Surprisingly, the rust-resisting pillar is not the only one of its kind. Other large and ancient Indian artifacts having the same properties are found at Mandu, Dhar, and Mount Abu. There are also few cannons that show the same rust-free properties. The technology and skill of the ancient metallurgists of India could possibly exceed the skills and abilities today.

15 – Metal Coatings

Research has shown that artisans and craftsmen 2,000 years ago used a form of ancient technology for applying thin films of metal to statues and other items, which was superior to today’s standards for producing DVDs, solar cells, electronic devices and other products. Fire gilding and silvering are age-old mercury-based processes used to coat the surface items such as jewels, statues and amulets with thin layers of gold or silver. From a technological point of view, what the ancient gilders achieved 2000 years ago, was to make the metal coatings incredibly thin, adherent and uniform, which saved expensive metals and improved its durability, something which has never been achieved to the same standard today. Apparently without any knowledge about the chemical–physical processes, ancient craftsmen systematically manipulated metals to create spectacular results. They developed a variety of techniques, including using mercury like a glue to apply thin films of metals to objects. The findings demonstrate that there was a far higher level of understanding and knowledge of advanced concepts and techniques in our ancient past than what they are given credit for.

16 – Mithridatum the Antidote

The King Mithridates had a fear and it was to be poisoned. He was particularly hated by the Romans. (It might have something to do with that time he killed 150,000 of them in a single day.)

Mithridates was incredibly paranoid — rightfully so, says Ancient History, and he was particularly afraid of poison. So, he decided to create an antidote against any type. He tested his antidotes on prisoners, and according to Pliny the Elder, he found his magic antidote. Pliny claimed it had more than 50 ingredients, and Mithridates believed it was real,  — he would regularly eat poison, just to prove it was. What’s going on?

It’s possible there’s a few things: it’s been suggested that his antidote — mithridate, or mithridatium — was a combination of actual antidotes and real poisons. By regularly taking the antidote to some substances, he would have been protecting himself that way. But by regularly ingesting small amounts of various poisons, he could have been building up an immunity. Could he have done it? No one’s sure, but when he tried to kill himself by splitting a dose of poison with his daughter, he survived — it took a blade to finish him off.

17 – Global Wireless Power

Nikola Tesla, the Yugoslavian inventor, is credited with many life-changing inventions including alternating current. But one of his greatest ideas unfortunately, was halted by greed and jealousy. 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. According to historians, J.P Morgan realized in the middle of Tesla’s project that he would not be able to monetize global power the same way he could monetize oil or electricity at the meter. Tesla’s invention for global wireless power has never resurfaced after Tesla’s death. The world we see today might have been very different if Tesla’s invention took off. You can picture a world where driving your car anywhere would allow it to be powered continously, and for free.

18 – Perpetual Motion

Viktor Schauberger and his works have become part of an internet-based conspiracy theory claiming that Schauberger invented free energy/perpetual motion devices and that this was “covered up” by the US government. Schauberger claimed to have discovered some special vortex energy in water. Since his death in 1958, people are still studying his works. While, perpetual motion devices are impossible under basic laws of physics as they violate the fundamental concept of conservation of energy, Schauberger never claimed to have invented perpetual motion machines, but instead stated that he used the Earth’s natural power. After the Second World War, Schauberger was apprehended by US intelligence agents, and kept in custody for 9 months. They confiscated all his documents and prototypes, and interrogated him to determine his activities during the war.

19 – Cold Fusion Device

Cold fusion is nuclear fusion at room temperature and normal pressure. Nuclear fusion is the process by which many nuclei, the center of an atom, containing protons and neutrons, are forced to join together to form a heavier nucleus and during that process, energy is released, so much energy that it would solve man kind’s energy needs. Eugene Mallove was a notable proponent and supporter of research into cold fusion. He authored the book Fire from Ice, which details the 1989 report of table-top cold fusion from Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann at the University of Utah. The book claims the team did produce “greater-than-unity” output energy in an experiment, which supposedly was successfully replicated on several occasions. Mallove claims that the results were suppressed through an organized campaign of ridicule from mainstream physicists. He was fatally beaten in 2004, by an unknown assailant. His violent death was suspected by some to be related to the nature of his work.

Today, scientists are building a nuclear fusion reactor which uses plasma to create energy. It is still a prototype and it might just work. But Mallove’s work could have given us a head start.

20 – Rife Machine

The Rife Machine was invented by an American scientist Royal Raymond Rife. Rife treatment works by finding the frequency of the condition.

Raymond invented the machine which could detect and destroy any virus that causes any type of health issue. An impulse of the same frequency is then used to kill or disable diseased cells. Royal tested this machine first on animals and then on humans. It is claimed that it even cured 7 cancer patients. But due to some political reasons it was forced to be stopped, therefore it still remains mysterious.

Rife treatment works by finding the frequency of the condition. An impulse of the same frequency is then used to kill or disable diseased cells. Many websites are claiming the Rife machine can cure cancer. Evidently, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and to this day we are not entirely sure if the Rife Machine is fiction on reality. However Rife might have inspired modern researchers, a company called NeoTherma uses a similar method as Rife to heat cancer cells. NeoTherma acquired patents for a device called Kanzius which was invented by Jon Kanzius who’s inspiration came from a Rife device.

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