2482773 – The Hieronymus Machine

Here’s an odd one. The Hieronymus Machine has the unusual distinction of being the only psychically operated or psychotronic device to have received a U.S. patent.

The Hieronymus Machine has the unusual distinction of being the only psychically operated or psychotronic device to have received a U.S. patent.

Fortean author Mark Pilkington

This device, patented in 1949 by Dr. Hieronymous is intended for the detection and analysis of minerals using a new aspect of the physical universe discovered by him which he calls “eloptic radiation”.

From Wikipedia: the original radiation analyzer consisted of a chamber to hold a sample of material, a glass prism to refract the “eloptic” emanations coming from it, and a copper wire probe on a rotating armature to adjust the angle formed by the prism and the probe.

Supposedly, “eloptic” emanations are refracted by the prism at different angles depending on the material. The detected “eloptic” signals were fed to a three-stage vacuum tube RF amplifier and conducted to a flat touch plate surrounded by a copper wire bifilar coil.

By stroking the touch plate an operator could supposedly feel a sensation of “tingling” or “stickiness” when the “eloptic” energy was detected. As such, a human nervous system is considered to be necessary to operate a Hieronymus Machine.

U.S. Patent 2482773 The Hieronymus Machine
John W. Campbell’s schematic of the Hieronymus machine, from Astounding Science Fiction, June 1956. This “psionic” device was supposed to amplify subtle radiations from a test sample, resulting in a tingling sensation when a psychically sensitive individual touched the detector plate.

Ah, there’s the rub – this dependence on human interaction for an effect. And where it gets even weirder…

In the late 1950s, John W. Campbell, in his role as the editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, was a big proponent of eloptic energy and promoted these devices. However, he was convinced that these machines were based on psionics, and related to the users paranormal or ESP powers.

He believed that he could obtain results from the Hieronymus device even if the electronic components were removed and replaced with a paper schematic of the circuit. Campbell speculated that the symbolic device actually worked by using the operator’s psi or what has been called the “human instrument.”

Look for my later post detailing a build for this Symbolic Hieronymus Machine and my test results!