"With our present knowledge, no definition can be given of the latent force, which, possessing all the conditions of attraction and repulsion associated with it, is free of magnetism. If it is a condition of electricity, robbed of all electrical phenomena, or magnetic force, repellent to the phenomena associated with magnetic development, the only philosophical conclusion that I can arrive at is that this undefinable element is the soul of matter."
John Worrell Keely (1837 - 1898)
In 1872 a carpenter and mechanic in Philadelphia announced that he had discovered a new form of energy. He got the idea from a tuning fork! His idea gave him the means to tap this energy - ETHERIC FORCE.
He had other cool words to describe his invention - "vibratory engine," "hydro-pneumatic pulsating vacuo-engine," and "latent force."
Selling tickets to his dramatic demonstrations, and using his considerable musical talents, he would start the machine up with any of many musical instruments. Then, using his similarly considerable eloquent language, he would go about explaining his invention and how it worked.
Note: Many physicists of this era believed that the universe itself was full of an elusive fluid they called "lumineferous ether." They went about with many experiments to find and measure this ether, with disappointing results. They finally gave up, realizing that the theory lacked foundation. "Lumineferous ether" is seldom even mentioned in science textbooks today.
At his demonstrations, Keely played on that belief in this all-encompassing ether! And his demonstrations to scientists and non scientists alike began earning him financial backing.
After a musical interlude, Keely would blow air into a nozzle for 30 seconds. Then he would pour water into that same nozzle. With some whirls and flair, he would get a pressure gage to register 10,000 pounds per square inch! This pressure, said he, demonstrated that the water had disappeared and this mysteriously liberated a magical vapor which could power machinery! Why, with just a few gallons of tap water street cars, trains, even boats, could be powered forever!
He said, "A bucket of water has enough of this vapor to produce power sufficient to move the world out of its course!"
Well, the money poured in. It was said that in a few years Keely Motor Company was worth $5 million dollars!
And Keely was living the good life!
Many branded him a fraud. Scientists, and Scientific American, said that his "experiments" could be produced with compressed air. It was odd that nothing could ever be duplicated when Keely was not around. But he still found backers, including some scientists.
AND HE CONTINUED THAT MONEY FLOW FOR 26 YEARS!
The waterfall of money eventually dried up to a trickle.
Long story short - he was exposed, he did have a compressed air source, and the whole affair was his form of SNAKE OIL. But his charade lasted a long time! He was not absolutely exposed until after his death and the suspicious public looked over his shop! They figured out how he did it, with pulleys and weights and, yes, compressed air!
He himself said his epitaph should read, "Keely, the greatest humbug of the 19th century."
Yes, free enterprise has its faults! The key is the word FREE! Our society is full, full, full of scammers! And that's everything from world leaders, to doctors to canned handymen!
What, you've never bought something from a TV commercial, or Billy Jays, that did NOT later perform, um, exactly to your expectations? C'mon, we all have!
BUT IN THE LONG RUN THE MARKET ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS WEEDS THAT CRAP OUT!
Just like it did with Mr. Keely!
If it doesn't stultify innovation and production, gubment regulation can be helpful, even good. But not when it collapses markets and depresses the inventors!
Keeping the free market as free as possible lifts whole societies, and FREE ENTERPRISE has demonstrated that ability for millenia.
But, CAVEAT OMNIA!
MAY THE LATENT, ETHERIC, HYDRO-PNEUMATIC PULSATING FORCE BE WITH YOU.