Nov. 5, 1955: A Flux of Genius | This Day In Tech

By | November 6, 2009

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… According to archival footage, Brown was standing on his toilet seat on the evening of Nov. 5, 1955, attempting to hang a clock in his bathroom, when he slipped and slammed his head on the side of the sink. Upon regaining consciousness Brown reported having “a revelation, a picture, a picture in my head.” A picture which he crudely scrawled down on a piece of paper and subsequently spent 30 years of his life and family fortune to build.

Still of Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future That picture, of course, was the flux capacitor. And as every high school physics student knows, it’s the device that makes time travel possible.

The main hurdle Brown faced with the flux capacitor was delivering enough power to make it function. The capacitor required a staggering 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to generate a time-displacement field. Brown first surmised that meeting the capacitor’s power needs could be accomplished in two ways: either by channeling a nuclear reaction or harnessing a bolt of lightning. Lightning as it turned out, was pretty much out of the question, because it’s impossible to determine when and where a bolt will strike.

Brown decided to go for the nuclear option. He hypothesized that within 30 years, material like plutonium would be easily obtainable — probably available in corner drugstores. It turned out he was dead wrong.

By 1985 Brown had squandered his family fortune and allegedly committed several acts of insurance fraud to finance his time machine. Built from a Delorean DMC-12 (whose stainless steel body had a direct and influential effect on flux dispersal), it was fitted with a working flux capacitor that was powered by a nuclear reactor. Desperate for fuel, Brown duped a group of Libyan terrorists into providing him with weapons-grade plutonium.

At 1:21 a.m Oct. 25, 1985, Brown (with the help of his protege, Martin McFly) was able to successfully — and safely — send his dog forward and then McFly back in time. After a series of setbacks resulting from the first temporal displacement, Brown and McFly would travel to the years 1955, 2015 and 1885.

Unfortunately, because of a railroad accident near Hill Valley’s Eastwood Ravine a day later, Brown’s DeLorean along with its flux capacitor was destroyed. Despite repeated requests from the media and scientific communities, Brown has declined interviews and refuses to share or replicate the flux capacitor’s technology.

The incidents leading up to the time machine demise also served as the basis for the award-winning documentary, Back to the Future.

via Nov. 5, 1955: A Flux of Genius | This Day In Tech | Wired.com.

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