“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”*…
In January of 1942, as the U.S was entering World War II, a Pennsylvania dentist (and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt) named Lytle Adams submitted the design of a new weapon to the White House, suggesting that it could be effective against the Japanese. Adams’ creation was a bomb that would drop over 800 hibernating bats– to each of which was attached a small incendiary device… as the bomb descended from a high-altitude drop, the bats would awaken, disperse, and nest in structures– which in Japan at the time were largely made of bamboo, paper, and other highly-flammable material. Later in the day the incendiaries would go off, starting fires across a wide area. Adams estimated that 100 bombs might start as many a 1,000,000 fires.
The U.S. military developed the “Bat Bomb”; and while the yields were never quite what Adams predicted, they were impressive enough to drive investment of an estimated $2 million. The project was abandoned only when it became clear that the Manhattan Project would finish before the Bat Bomb was ready.
Read more about the Bat Bomb here.
[TotH to Quora answerer Tal Reichert]
* Albert Einstein
As we try to find the ploughshare, we might recall that it was on this date in 1849 that Lewis Phectic Haslett was granted the first patent for a gas mask. In fact, Haslett was building on a long tradition: the ancient Greeks used sponges as make-shift gas masks, and the Banu Musa brothers in Baghdad described a rudimentary gas mask (for protecting workers in polluted wells) in their wonder-full 9th century Book of Ingenious Devices. Still, Haslett’s creation was the forerunner of the modern gas mask.