Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about a great but lost opportunity, begins after the photo.
A Missed Opportunity
Little did young Wilfred Montague know it, but the fate of the world rested upon his narrow shoulders. The fellow’s extraordinary mind yet diminutive frame and rodent-like public speaking skills rarely served him well. Never more was this illustrated than on a chilly September day at the Boston Inventor’s Association Faire in 1888.
Wealthy patrons Holbart, Wooten, and Milton walked amongst the displays. Any of the obscenely wealthy men might turn a lucky inventor into a rich man overnight with manufacturing contracts. At each table they listened and watched all manner of demonstrations. They were dutifully impressed by each display, but nothing had fully enchanted any of the three. At last, they stopped at young Wilfred’s table.
They looked at Wilfred, who looked unimpressive, and they looked at his invention, which looked unimpressive, and they collectively sighed.
“Rather small for an inventor, aren’t you?” chuckled Holbart.
“Sorry, sir,” said Wilfred, staring at his shoes.
“Well, what does it do? What is it called?” said Wooten
“I haven’t a name for it yet.”
“It has to have a name!” chortled Holbart.
“It looks like a laundry mangler,” said Milton.
“Ah yes, that’s what I started with,” said Wilfred. “But, press this lever here, open this valve, and turn this crank…and there you are!”
Milton squinted. “Is it doing anything?”
“If you look carefully at this fluid you can see bubbling and a faint amount of light,” said Wilfred, avoiding their eyes.
“So…it makes light?” said Holbart.
“Yes, it could be used for that,” admitted Wilfred.
The three patrons sighed. Milton patted Wilfred on the head. “I’m afraid Edison’s already done that. Better luck next time, young fellow.”
As they three men walked away from a disconsolate Wilfred, another inventor patted his shoulder sympathetically. “So it just makes light?” he asked.
“No. It makes energy too. Lots of it by Liter.”
“Oh that’s good. You should name it something.”
“I was thinking…Cold Fusion.”
The inventor shook his head. “Too dull. Better to toss this out and get back to the drawing board.”
And so it was that cheap, unlimited energy failed to emerge on the world’s stage and would not again until 101 years later in 1989, and nothing nearly as viable as Wilfred’s would appear until 2013. It was a cold day for the entire world.
In 1989, Martin Fleischman and Stanley Pons reported that they had started Cold Fusion. Nuclear Power made with chemicals that did not require massive, expensive, dangerous Fission power plants. The whole world took notice as it seemed that cheap unlimited energy would now be available. Soon, their findings were publicly debunked and everyone had to back to the smelly gas pumps like usual. More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Fleischmann
In 2013, with much less fanfare, Andrea Rossi reported starting Cold Fusion, and his findings have been verified. In quite a bit of secrecy, a new power company is starting up with Rossi’s invention. More details here: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/156393-cold-fusion-reactor-independently-verified-has-10000-times-the-energy-density-of-gas
And also here: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-01/15/cold-fusion-moves-into-mainstream
Each week, Alastair Forbes presents an original photo as a writing prompt. Join writers from around the world in writing flash fiction for this fun-filled writing challenge. The prompt may be found here: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/sunday-photo-fiction-march-2nd-2014/