A Weapon of Mass Destruction

By The Editors / May / June 2004
June 15th, 2007
Germany’s chances of having a “death-ray” or any other lethal weapon unknown to the Allied powers are “just about absolute zero.” That is the opinion of Prof. Charles A. Kraus, Director of Chemical Research at Brown University and president of the American Chemical Society.

“There isn’t any such thing as a death ray,” he declared flatly, when asked to comment on Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s threat to unleash hitherto undreamed-of forces against England and France in the current European war.

“The chances are just about absolute zero that Germany has any weapons, or potential ones, which the Allies don’t have,” he said. “It’s silly even to think about a death ray that has any practical application. Such a concept has no foundation of fact on the basis of what science knows about natural phenomena.”

The Brown University chemist, whose researches made possible the commercial production of ethyl gasoline, also declared that “there has been no development which would fundamentally increase the effectiveness of offensive gas warfare, should it be used in the present conflict.”

“There probably has been more progress made with defensive devices than with offensive methods,” Prof. Kraus said. “As compared with the last war, however, it is true that more gas could be manufactured more quickly today.”

Germany, France, and England all have about the same scientific and technical reservoirs upon which to draw, according to Prof. Kraus, who pointed out that the manufacture of arms and munitions hinges upon many dovetailing resources.

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May / June 2004