SUPPOSE magicians could be stationed at strategic points along the
borders or coast of a country at war. Then when enemy battleships,
submarines or bombers came within five miles, the magicians could
mumble a few magic words, and presto!— the invaders would be blown
to bits by their own explosives!
An instrument has really been devised that will perform just such
a feat, not by hocus pocus, but by utilizing natural physical laws
to ignite explosives at a distance without the use of wires or any
other direct contact. Otto H. Mohr, inventor of the submarine
detector, is the originator of the Solar Mohr Detonator, and has
successfully demonstrated it to Army officials.
Recently a group of United States Army experts gathered in the
hills near Oakland, California, to witness a test of the
Detonator. Several times in previous months they had watched
demonstrations of the instrument, and they came prepared to put it
to tests of their own devising.
Canvas bags containing charges of powder used to fire a one pound
shell were placed in the middle of a field. Twenty feet, away Mr.
Mohr stood by his model Detonator, a cubical measuring about two
feet. He adjusted a cone-shaped antenna on top until a metal tube
in its core pointed to the sun. A gentle buzz from within
indicated that it was in exact position, then a dim light appeared
in a tube extending from the front of the instrument. The inventor
focused this tube in the direction of the bags of powder. Nine
minutes later the powder exploded. Other tests devised by the
officers convinced them that the Detonator is a remarkable and
practical defense weapon, and they recommended favorable
consideration by the United States Army.
Mr. Mohr stumbled onto the Detonator Ray by accident. While
working on another instrument which utilized solar energy, a small
amount of powder nearby exploded. It took five years to discover
the secret of this accident and to construct an instrument to
command and control the principle of remote detonation.
Did you ever focus the sun’s rays to pin-point intensity with a
lens and set fire to paper or straw? That, very roughly, is the
underlying principle of the Detonator. The cone-shaped antenna on
top gathers the sun’s magnetic force which has transformed inside
the instrument to motivated vibratory currents. These vibrations
are synchronized or “tuned” to the atomic vibrations of the
explosive substance and sent on a beam from the focusing tube in
the direction of the target.
Four secret essentials control the Detonator, and to safeguard the
invention, Mr. Mohr dismantles it after every demonstration.
A bright, sunny day is not essential to the use of the Detonator,
but the brighter days make, it possible to gather more solar
energy in less time, thus shortening the time it takes to explode
the target. But any amount of sunlight is effective. It is
possible, too, that a mercury arc may some day be substituted at
night for solar energy.
The explosive principle is similar to that causing combustion when
two sticks are rubbed together rapidly; the energy vibrations from
the sun’s magnetic force which is transferred along the beam, set
up a friction with the explosive elements. They become hot, and
hotter, then explode.
Explosive substances used in ammunition are always compounds of
several elements — gun powder is a combination of potassium
nitrate, sulphur and charcoal — but any explosive with a
hydrocarbon base is subject to the Detonator Ray. However, there
is one requirement: the atomic vibration of the constituents must
be known so that the Detonator may be “tuned” to effective action.
Otherwise the solar vibrations would slide past the explosive’s
atoms without the friction essential to explosion.
Mr. Mohr has determined the atomic vibrations of some elements,
but many types of explosives have not yet been analyzed, and the
atomic vibrations of many elements are not yet known. Gun powder,
gasoline vapor, and some other explosive substances have been
successfully fired by the Detonator. All others will be calculated
as soon, as time and money will permit, and as fast as further
atomic vibrations are formulated, they will be turned over to the
Another improvement that is being worked on is the extension of
the distance at which the Detonator will be effective. It is like
the projecting of shot from a cannon; the greater the power behind
the shot, the farther and harder it will be sent. The inventor
believes that the beam of the Detonator may be extended to the
reach of light rays; approximately forty miles on a level with the
horizon, when sufficient solar energy can be accumulated.
When larger, more powerful models of the Detonator are built,
invading machines will have small chance of coming within shooting
or bombing distance of the United States. Battleships or tanks
would be spontaneously blown up by their own ammunition, and
bombers would be destroyed by the very missiles they planned to
drop on others.