Despite growing up in an environment where lying is seen as a negative action that only the evil do, we still end up using fibs as a way to get out of trouble or just because we can't help it. It’s as if we were genetically programmed to tell lies. Humanity’s history is full of these tricks and half-truths that bend the shape of what we think and believe.
Nikola Tesla, one of the most influential scientists and inventors of the twentieth century, fooled his landlords at the Waldorf-Astoria. The reason behind his ruse was a ten-thousand-dollar debt the New York landmark was expecting to be paid.
It was during that time that a rumor was floating around that Tesla had built a powerful device able to vaporize a person in seconds: the death beam. Though there was never any proof that the weapon actually existed, speculation ran high. Several claimed it was located in the inventor’s hotel room. Though Tesla was adamantly against science being used for economic purposes, he made a brash decision and offered the owners a death ray as a way to pay off his debts.
The owners of the hotel could not believe that such a powerful artifact had landed in their possession. The scientist was very clear in asking for the box never to be opened, yet they never suspected any foul play. They accepted the box containing the death ray and left the matter as settled.
The box would not be opened until a few years later, after Tesla’s death, when a group of scientists went to the room where the mysterious box was kept. They were disappointed as soon as they opened it and only found a decade resistance box.
If this lie helped Tesla keep a roof over his head, how terrible can it be?
History is full of bizarre moments that even Hollywood could not make up. One of them is the story of the creator of the Superman comics and his racy fetish illustrations. Another is the obsession of straight-laced Victorians with Opium.
Translated by María Suárez