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...

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