Maybe there is not a profession more useful and at the same time more ungrateful than that of inventor. And I’m going to mention a case that exemplifies it.
George W. Newton had patented more than a hundred inventions without any of them having brought him the slightest profit. I will enumerate some. A “gender recogniser”: a self-service machine that at the touch of a button informs you whether you are a man or a woman or a mixture of both (this information can be very useful to obtain a passport or any other identification document). A “direction marker” (a kind of compass that tells you where it is below, above, right and left). The “Governor of the State of Texas”, a robot designed specifically to perform this task. Or the “pin dispenser”, an extremely versatile device which could also serve to govern Texas if necessary. All of them, inventions with an advanced technology for its time, but that did not find any investor interested in its commercialization.
Ah, but the latest invention of G. W. Newton had all the signs of becoming a bombshell bound to pave the way for researchers of the paranormal. It was a ghost detector. Newton offered the invention to the recently founded American Society for Psychical Research, whose board of directors commissioned two of its members to test the gadget in a presumed haunted house on the outskirts of Buffalo. So William James and his colleague Raymond J. Livingston took a train to Buffalo in the company of George W. Newton, proud inventor of the contraption.
The house had been empty for more than a year, but the neighbors complained of continuous noise and disturbances. However, when our protagonists arrived, everything was quiet. Newton immediately started installing his device in the center of what had once been the living room. With an ultramodern technology for its time, that witty man had created what nowadays is commonly known as a motion sensor. The slightest oscillation of air due to the passage of a presence, was going to be captured by the device, which then would emit a sharp warning beep. In order not to spoil the experiment, the three men made sure to neutralize any possible draft, and James and Livingstone got ready to witness the demonstration. After warning them of the need to remain completely immobile, Newton started up the gadget. The two SPR members did not even dare to blink.
However, they could not avoid raising their eyebrows when they witnessed what seemed to be an invisible hand suddenly grabbing the device and throwing it out the window. Screaming curses, Newton came out after it quick as spit while the two SPR members looked at each other with questioning expression.
A sharp warning beep came from the street.