Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 92.djvu/19

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Popular Science Monthly
239 Fourth Ave., New York
Vol.92 $1.50
No.1 January, 1918 Annually



The Human Torch

Enveloped in flames, a bold man dives from a fifty-foot tower into a lake of gasoline, transforming it into a seething furnace.

IT is night time. On the top of a tower, fifty feet high, stands a queer looking figure, dressed in three suits. The outside one is of cloth, the one under it, is of rubber, and the one next to the skin is of asbestos. On his head are three rubber caps, over which is an asbestos cap that comes down to his shoulders and leaves two holes through which he can see. His gloves, his wristlets, his shoes—all are of asbestos. Directly below him is a square area of water, fenced in with logs or boards. The surface of this boxed-off section is covered with gasoline.

Suddenly an assistant steps up to the figure and lifts a bottle, from which he pours gasoline over the man's body. Around the lake stand two thousand


How the diver escaped without being burned to death is shown above. At right, above, is Jake Cox, the daredevil, dressed for the feat

people, fascinated by the actions of the two. In a moment, the assistant steps back from the oil-covered figure and shouts a signal to somebody below. Immediately all lights are extinguished, leaving the figure in darkness. Then the stillness is broken by the report of a revolver shot. The assistant has fired at the diver, the sparks from the revolver transforming him into a livid cone of flame. With a shout, he leaps from the platform and in a beautiful parabolic dive, plunges into the lake below. As he flies through the air, his body takes on the appearance of a torch, long tongues of flame trailing out behind him. Striking the film of gasoline, he is enveloped in a veritable inferno of fire, which erupts as soon as his fingertips touch it.

But his work is only half done. If he comes up in the lake of fire he will be burned alive. How does he escape? He swims under water some thirty or forty feet until he has passed the burning gasoline, when he rises to the surface, safely out of danger's reach. This is no easy thing to do, for his shoes and the three heavy suits greatly hinder his movements. Furthermore, he dare not open his mouth or breathe through his nose while he is taking his spectacular dive, lest the flames suffocate him.

It requires reckless courage to be a "thriller de luxe." If the slightest accident or miscalculation occurred, the "Human Torch" would be extinguished for the last time.

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