| "The Irvhank Effect" |
|Date of Death:||1987|
|Cause of Death:||shot to death|
Hank Jeter was a big, bulky black man who looked like a defensive lineman in football. He was a physicist who worked in a laboratory near Southbridge, Massachusetts. There he met and became friends with Irv Farmer.
One afternoon, during an experiment at the lab, a car knocked down a power pole nearby, cutting power to the building. A back-up generator kicked in, re-energizing the equipment but the lights were not on the circuit leaving the windowless room pitch black. At that moment, Jeter was checking the time on his great grandfather's pocket watch but things went dark before he could read it. Someone retrieved a flashlight and the beam hit Jeter's eyes like a flare. As the section chief ordered everyone to leave the building, Jeter put his watch away and left the building. By the time everyone regrouped in the parking lot, it was quarter past four so the section chief sent a couple of people back in to shut down the experiment and everyone else home. Jeter and Farmer went to their favorite hang-out, The Lair for a drink.
The two discussed the day's events and how the power failure and then surge of the back-up generator would void many of their readings. One drink led to several and after a while Farmer asked Jeter the time. Jeter pulled out his pocket watch and was surprised that the Radium dial was glowing. He explained that back at the lab he couldn't read it in the dark. He figured that the paint had decayed to the point it didn't work any longer.
While Jeter was ready to shrug it off, Farmer became very interested in trying to figure out why this occurred. After some speculation, he said he was going back to the lab to try to figure it out. Jeter tagged along and watched as Farmer reset the instruments to the settings they had during the experiment. When he was done, he turned off the lights and asked Jeter to look at his watch. It was dark once more. Farmer got a Geiger counter, put its detector near the watch and found it registered only background radiation. Farmer then started turning off equipment and suddenly the counter started clicking much more loudly.
The two decided not to tell anyone and spent several months investigating what they called the Irvhank Effect on their own time. Eventually they built a device that could generate a weaker but much broader ranging effect. Their calculations indicated it would prevent nuclear weapons from detonating but allow a nuclear reactor to continue to operate.
To test this, the two vacationed in Las Vegas at the same time a routine nuclear test explosion was scheduled in nearby Nellis Air Force Base. On the day of the test they loaded a pick-up truck with equipment and a generator and drove cross-country towards Nellis, stopping well away from its boundary. Jeter started to set up their equipment while Farmer started the generator. He then joined Jeter at setting up. When the device was operating to their satisfaction, the two had an iced beer each while they waited. The time of the test came and went without the ground shaking. They waited twenty minutes and then Farmer turned off the generator. The ground immediately began to shake.
The two returned home in a happy mood determined to write up the effect and announce it to the world. While Farmer had visions of Nobel Prizes dancing in his head, Jeter had bigger ideas. They set up the device in his bedroom, powering it from wall socket, and activated it to protect the United States from nuclear attack. Shortly after, Farmer noticed an article on Marshal Pavel Serafimov retiring early due to difficulties in developing warheads for the new SS-26 ICBMs. Jeter commented that he had thought their calculations on the extent of the Effect were conservative and that it looked like it had a world-wide influence.
The days went by as the two wrote up their work. One evening Farmer barged in on Jeter and explained he had discovered his condo had been burgled and someone had made off his notes and half written paper. The two were discussing it when a man entered carrying a machine-pistol with a silencer. He cautioned the two not to try anything as the Uzi would only make the noise of Donald Duck sneezing and leave them hamburger.
After discussing their work, the Agent asked what the two hoped to accomplish. Jeter contemptuously explained that they would bring world peace by preventing nuclear destruction. The Agent was not impressed and explained that once the Soviet Union realized the nuclear deterrence was over, they would have no strategic obstacle in launching an invasion since they had overwhelming superiority in conventional weapons.
Farmer objected, stating that they would still be subject to bombings and counter attacks with the possibility of losing. The Agent indicated that that wasn't much of an obstacle to the Soviets, that Americans had a hard time understanding that the Soviets had done the bulk of the fighting during World War II. The last people that had success in occupying Russia were the Mongols. He further explained that the Soviets had suffered 11-13 million dead troops and 7 million civilian casualties during WWII and would be willing to risk the same again. This shocked Farmer and Jeter but the Agent explained that they grew up during the Vietnam War where there were only 50,000 U.S. dead over a dozen years and that they had no idea about a truly big conventional war.