National Defense: Crackpots' Haven

One of the gadflies that made official Washington miserable in World War I was the crackpot inventor, buzzing with mosquitoey ideas for winning the war—schemes for crashproof airplanes, inescapable torpedoes, mole-burrowing bombs.

Once in a thousand times such crackpottery held water. One day when a sentry in the Navy Department slipped away for lunch, an inventor slipped into Assistant Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt's office, sold him an electrical antennae device that implemented the successful North Sea mine barrage.

Last week at a long mahogany table in Washington's Commerce Department Building a group of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!