A fantastic or imaginary tool. An idea for an invention whose material prerequisites aren't yet available.
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Quote: “Before I had time to question him as to his meaning, the old man emerged from the cabin loaded with sundry strange-looking machines, and followed by the steward bearing more. For a few minutes he was mighty busy placing his menagerie in order, and then he turned to me and said briskly, ‘Now, Mr. Roper, I’m all ready, go forrard and invite the hands aft to the lecture.’ […] The skipper was as busy as two people about his wheels and things, and the unhappy steward like an image of fear obeyed mechanically the various commands of his dread master. At last a whirring sound was heard like the humming of some huge imprisoned bee, and to this accompaniment the skipper took up his parable and preceded to talk. […] Indeed, from what I could see of their faces, I believe every other sense was merged in the full expectation of an explosion, and they couldn’t have taken their strained eyes off the buzzing gadget in their midst for any consideration whatever.” a monkey rushes the apparatus, something explodes, then: “‘Mr. Roper, I shan’t give any more scientific exhibitions this trip; I think they’re immoral.’ With that he hobbled into his cabin, and we saw no more of him for a week. When we did, you couldn’t have got a grain of science out of him with a small-tooth comb…”
Author: Bullen, Frank T.
Source: New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1902. 138-9
Quote: “In fact, sir, you want an apparatus combining a variety of qualities, in a word, an absolutely silent, efficient, economical, invisible, corrosive proof, unornamented, not-too-heavily-springed, easily adjusted, readily removable, British-made, right-handed, patent automatic door closer, ideally fitted in every possible respect for attaching to your pantry door which (I understand you say) contains a glass window. How is that, sir?’ ‘Splendid, splendid.’ ‘Well, sir, I regret that there has never been any article of that description put on the market, but if you care to visit our wholesale department across the road, you may perhaps be able to make your choice from a reasonably large selection of our present imperfect models. Good day, sir.”
Author: Graves, Robert
Source: On English Poetry: Being an Irregular Approach to the Psychology of This Art, from Evidence Mainly Subjective. p. 110
Quote: “A man once went into an ironmonger’s shop and said hesitantly: ‘Do you sell those gadgets for fixing on doors?’ / ‘Well, sir,’ replied the assistant, ‘I am not quite sure if I understand your requirements, but I take it you are needing a patent automatic door-closer?’ / ‘Exactly,’ said the customer. ‘One to fix on my pantry door which, by the way, contains a glass window.’ / ‘You will want a cheap one, sir?’ / ‘Cheap but serviceable.’ / ‘You will prefer an English make, sir?’ / ‘Indeed, that’s a most important consideration.’ / /You will perhaps want one with ornamentation, scroll work and roses, for instance?’ / ‘Oh, no, nothing of the sort, thank you. What I want is as plain and unobtrusive as possible.’ / ‘You would like it made of some rustless metal, sir?’ / ‘That would be very convenient.’ / ‘And with a strong spring?’ / ‘Well, moderately strong.’ / ‘To be fixed on which side, sir?’ / /Let me see; the right-hand side.’ / ‘Now, sir,’ said the assistant, ‘I will go through each point, one by one. You want an efficient (but not too costly) English made, unobtrusive, rustless, unornamented, patent automatic door closer, to be fixed right-handed with a moderately strong spring to a pantry door with a gas window. Is there anything further, sir?’ / ‘Well, it’s very good of you to help me like this,’ said the customer. ‘I should also like it easily adjusted and easily removable, and above all it must not squeak or need constant oiling.’ / ‘In fact,’ said the clerk, ‘you want an apparatus combining a variety of qualities, in a word, an absolutely silent, efficient, economical, invisible, corrosive-proof, unonramented, not-too-heavily-springed, easily adjustable, readily removable, British-made, right-handed, patent automatic door closer, ideally fitted in every possible respect for attaching your pantry door which (I understand you to say) contains a glass window. How is that sir?’ / “Splendid, splendid.’ / ‘Well, sir,’ said the clerk, ‘I regret that there has never been any article of that description put on the market, but if you care to visit our wholesale department across the road, you may perhaps be able to make your selection from a reasonably large assortment of our present imperfect models. Good day, sir.’” (61-62) “Well, that’s the story of the ideal gadget. People like Mr. Brickell, Mr. Krutch and Mr. Villard are saddened by the fact that there are no ideally perfect, readily noble, spiritually supreme workers on the market upon whom they could put their faith to carry through a revolution which shall be quite as noble and as perfect as they themselves are. It is regrettable, but unavoidable, that the Communists must be compelled to carry through a revolution with the present assortment of workers who od not possess all those noble, idea qualities without which Mr. Brickell and Mr. Krutch do not see the possibilities of establishing a world which shall release men from the miseries and the exploitations which they now suffer.”
Author: Gold, Michael
Source: Change the World! New York: International Publishers. 1936.
Quote: “What it will be like to live and work in a space ship: the gadgets, the clothing, the new experiences in a gravitationless region where the happy voyager will have a magnet sewed into the seat of his pants to keep him from drifting away from his dinner. Miss Bendick makes it all moderately clear and faintly horrifying. For 10-to-14s.”
Source: Scientific American 189, (December 1953). p. 100-108
Quote: “When the impulses are few and the cortex is comparatively inactive, the brain wave slow down and normal sleep results. One is tempted by the picture of an electron beam scanning the tube face of a television camera, picking up impressions left by the outside world from one tiny region after another. But whether such beams of nerve impulses, playing upon the cortex, do actually control attention, whether they are responsible for the evocation of specific memory traces, only the future can decide. / We are beginning to have some reasonable guesses as to the ‘gadgets’ that would serve as a memory mechanism–guesses sufficiently concrete to permit testing by rigorous experimentation. I think it is realistic to hope for an understanding of memory precise enough to permit experimental modification of it in men.”
Author: Gerard, Ralph W.
Source: Scientific American 189, (September 1953). p. 118-126
Quote: “Of all the magic gadgets in the past, including the famed lamp of the Aladdin, there are none that compare with blood . . . the “Magic Fluid.” Despite the wonderful gifts that these magic-makers were reported to bestow, none could boast of giving life, for only the wonder-maker blood can restore ebbing life.”
Source: Arkansas State Press (Little Rock, Arkansas) • 06-05-1953 • Page 4
Quote: “Are we ready for the moon? … Would these moon people represent a more enlightened humanity than ours, where the curse of hate, bigotry, greed, poverty, ignorance and war is unknown? / Would they look upon we earth people as barbaric termintes, mentally and morally incapable of producing a civilization worthy of God’s blessings? And would they consider our great cities, mere ant hills, our miracle gadgets, especially our atomic discoveries, wasted and dangerous toys in the hands of irresponsible creatures?”
Author: Scripto, Arnold
Source: The Plain Dealer (Kansas City, Kansas) • 08-26-1955 • Page 
Quote: “In such an exercise the experimenter is allowed an “ideal workshop” in which he can make any kind of instrument or gadget—provided that its design and functioning do not contradict basic laws of physics. For example, he can have a rocket that moves with almost the speed of light, but not more than the speed of light; or he may use a light source which emits just a single photon, but not half a photon.”
Author: Gamow, George
Source: Scientific American 198, (January 1958). p. 51-57
Quote: “Somehow the gun had managed to melt itself in the moment of its owner dying. Well, at any rate that showed it hadn’t contained any gunpowder or ordinary chemical explosives, though I already knew it operated on other principles from the way it had been used to paralyze me. More to the point, it showed that the gun’s owner was the member of a culture that believed in taking very complete precautions against its gadgets falling into the hands of strangers.”
Author: Leiber, Fritz
Source: [Short story] In: Amazing Science Fiction
Quote: “” I’ll only draw enough earnings to build me a real, deep-space bubb, nuclear-propelled, and with certain extra gadgets. A few guys have tried to follow the unmanned, instrumented rockets, out to the system of Saturn. Nobody got back, yet. I think I know what they figured wrong. The instruments showed – well, skip it… I’m going into Town to prepare. It’ll take quite a while, so I’ll have some fun, too. “”
Author: Gallun, Raymond Z.
Source: [Short story] In: New York City
Quote: “The holdup killers, shooting up the town and spreading tack’s on the road behind them to hinder pursuit, made, good their escape. As chance would have it, the South Braintree crime occurred at the precise moment when Chief Stewart, Pinkerton? agents and immigration’ inspectors were turning up some curious angles that, Chief Stewart felt, might be related to the Bridgewater holdup - attempt. The Pinkertons had located an improbable witness who claimed to have invented a crime machine. One look into this unlikely gadget, according to, the inventor, would tell you just who committed any given crime. The Pinkertons, skeptical people, weren’t very interested, in the crime machine, but they were decidedly interested in the gossip its’ creator had’ picked Up in the Italian, community. AcCOrding to this, the men involved in the Bridgewater holdup attempt had been Italian anarchists who had been living in a shack near, the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy.)”
Author: Cook, Fred J.
Source: The Nation, 22 December 1962. pp. 442-451
Quote: “He opened the hinged top. “ You will see the Space Wave coils at each end of the ship. “ With a pencil he pointed out the odd shaped plastic forms about an inch in diameter that had been wound – apparently at random – with a few turns of copper wire. Except for these coils the interior of the model was empty. The coils were wired together and other wires ran out through the hole in the bottom of the control box. Biff Hawton turned a very quizzical eye on the gadget and upon the demonstrator who completely ignored this sign of disbelief. “ Inside the control box is the battery, “ the young man said, snapping it open and pointing to an ordinary flashlight battery. “ The current goes through the Power Switch and Power Light to the Wave Generator… “ “ What you mean to say, “ Biff broke in, “ is that the juice from this fifteen cent battery goes through this cheap rheostat to those meaningless coils in the model and absolutely nothing happens.”
Author: Harrison, Harry
Source: [Short story] In: Analog Science Fact and Science Fiction
Quote: “The little gadget that Mike the Angel carried did more than just detect the nearby operation of a vibroblade. It was also a defense. The gadget focused a high-density magnetic field on any vibroblade that came anywhere within six inches of Mike’s body. In that field, the steel blade simply couldn’t move. It was as though it had been caught in a vise. The blade no longer vibrated; it had become nothing more than an overly fancy bread knife.”
Author: Garrett, Randall
Source: [Short story] In: Garden City, NY
Quote: “Because that’s the way the thing works. When the Geest gun passed through the model plate, it was analyzed down to its last little molecule. The duplicate is now being built up from that analysis. Every fraction of every element used in the original will show up again exactly. Why do you think the stuff’s so expensive? “ Phil grinned. “ All right, I’m convinced. How do we get rid of the inscription? “ “ The gadget will handle that, “ Jackson said. “ Crack that edge off, treat the cracked surface to match the wear of the rest. “ He smiled. “ Makes an Earth forger’s life look easy, doesn’t it? “”
Author: Schmitz, James H.
Source: [Short story] In: New York
Quote: “” Stop saying that, “ I said, “ and tell me, you’ve been here a long time, tell me if you have a friend with a camel, know anyone who would rent one. “ “ Oh, I dare say, “ the boy from Antioch said. And then I realized he must be some kind of mechanical gadget who could say this and nothing more, something a magi had produced and was still surrounded in smoke, something that would disappear when the smoke left. Now the other two beards crept in. You want some pot? “ they said. “ No, “ I said. “ T don’t smoke it. It doesn’t bother any of us that we don’t smoke it except Mike. That’s why he’s looking for a camel. “ “ That makes sense, “”
Author: Eastlake, William
Source: Harpers Magazine (196604) pages: 63-68
Quote: “Smoluchowski’s point can be better appreciated by translating it into modern terms. Although he refers to recent progress in electronics, ideas such as the rectification of an alternating voltage had barely arisen in his time. Today the principle of rectification plays a major role in such solid-state electronic devices as diodes and transistors. These devices are analogous to the hypothetical gadgets that translate the up-and-down movement of a Brownian particle into a purely upward motion, or that perform the old demon’s trick of permitting only fast molecules to go from left to right.”
Author: Ehrenberg, W.
Source: Scientific American 217, (November 1967). p. 103-110
Quote: “Good God, of course! The Lancashire Witches. Sixteen… thirty-something? Old Demdike, the head witch of the coven, her real name was Device. The whole damned family were witches. Oh, no. Don’t tell me – “ “ Oh, yes. “ Volz gave a hoarse shout of laughter, and one of the vile gadgets caught the vibration and whispered rustily. | “ Our little lady is the last descendant of one of the most notorious families in the history of witchcraft. Funniest thing I ever heard of.”
Author: Michaels, Barbara
Quote: “All right. The punk’s opened the cubicle a crack, looking like he’s about to pass out while he’s doing it. This bearded guy, Eltak, stands in front of the cubicle, holding the gadget he controls the thing with…. ‘’ ’’ Where’s the gadget now? ‘‘Quillan asked. “ Marras Cooms’s got it. “ “ How does it work? “ Baldy shook his head. “ We can’t figure it out. It’s got all kinds of little knobs and dials on it. Push this one an’ it squeaks, turn that one an’ it buzzes. Like that. “ Quillan nodded. “ All right. What happened? “ “ Well, Movaine tells the old guy to go ahead an ‘ do the demonstrating. The old guy sort of grins and fiddles with the gadget. The rest cubicle door pops open an’ this thing comes pouring out.I never seen nothin’ like it! It’s like a barn door with dirty fur on it. It swirls up an’ around an’ – my God! – it wraps its upper end clean around…”
Author: Schmitz, James H.
Source: Macmillan, 1970
Quote: “Well, “ Quillan said after a pause, “ in a way, Movaine got his demonstration. The Hlats can move through solid matter and carry other objects along with them, as advertised. If Yaco can work out how it’s done and build a gadget that does the same thing, they’re getting the Hlats cheap. What happened then? “ “ I told Marras Cooms about Movaine, and he sent me and a half-dozen other boys back up here with riot guns to see what we could do for him. Which was nothin’,[…]”
Author: Schmitz, James H.
Source: Macmillan, 1970
Quote: “To understand it we must first realize that we are going to make very little real progress in solving the problem of pollution until we recognize it for what, primarily, it is: an economic problem which must he understood in economic terms. Of course, there are noneconomic aspects of pollution, as there are with all economic problems, but all too often, such secondary matters dominate discussion. Engineers, for example, are certain that pollution will vanish once they find the magic gadget or power source. Politicians keep trying to find the right kind of bureaucracy: and bureaucrats maintain an unending search for the correct set of rules and regulations. Those who are above such vulgar pursuits pin their hopes on a moral regeneration or social revolution, apparently in the belief that saints and socialists have no garbage to dispose of.”
Author: Ruff, Larry
Source: Saturday Evening Post. Summer 1971 (243:1). pp. 74-155.
Quote: “His ring key unlocked the bottom drawer of his desk and he took out a small electronic device with controls and an extendible aerial on top. “ Well look at that! “ I said when he pulled out the aerial. Ile didn’t answer me, just shot a long look at me from under his eyebrows, and went back to adjusting the thing. Only when it was turned on and the green light glowed on the top did he relax a bit. “ You know what this is? “ he asked, pointing at the gadget. “ Of course, “ I said. “ But not from seeing them on Freibur. They aren’t that common. “ “ They aren’t common at all, “ he mumbled, staring at the green light which glowed steadily. “ As far as I know this is the only one on the planet – so I wish you wouldn’t mention it to anybody. Anybody, “ he repeated with emphasis. “ Not my business, “ I told him with disarming lack of interest.”
Author: Harrison, Harry
Source: Garden City, New York: Nelson Doubleday, Inc. 1972.
Quote: “We do the serotonin diffraction in here. This room’s plasma research; remind me to bring you back sometime when the big centrifuge is running. Fascinating stuff. This is Klaus’s enzyme lab – I’d take you in, but he’s such a touchy bastard that there’s no sense provoking him needlessly – and down here… “ Harker puffed along behind the lab director, dazzled by the array of formidable and incomprehensible gadgetry, bewildered by the flow of unfamiliar terminology. He smiled a lot and tried to look as if he followed at least the rudiments. But he doubted that he was deceiving Raymond. He saw kennels where lively dogs bounded joyfully up and down and struggled to lick his hands through the cage; it was a little jarring to learn that every dog in the room had been dead at least once, from periods ranging from a few minutes to twenty-eight hours.”
Author: Silverberg, Robert
Quote: “Subterrene is one of the more successful LASL programs, modest in cost and highly visible, a gadget that fulfills every little Leonardo’s dream and is practical as well. What a Subterrene can do is drill holes with its superhot “ penetrator “ in almost any kind of rock or soil and line them with their own “ glass “ pipes. The holes can be drilled vertically or horizontally or at any angle between, more practically and at less cost than most conventional holes, because the Subterrene turns the material that fills the hole into lava, which can then be extracted in several different forms.”
Author: Rhodes, Richard
Source: Harpers. March 1973.
Quote: “M-m-m, well, it varies. With thousands of shipping outfits plying these lanes, we can expect several craft per year to stop by, though we never know in advance. However, what we do know is if anybody’s within thirty – forty kilometers. A little gadget that detects thoughts. So you can’t monitor us unbeknownst. We can warn off ships; they do radio us from orbit before landing. Chances are they’d come down anyway, but maintain camouflage. All you’d observe or photograph would be a colored blur like ordinary ball lightning.”
Author: Woiwode, Larry
Quote: “He laid a few more of his ideas on us, and we’ll settle for one dazzler. THIS IDEA depends on electronic miniaturization. He wants to marry radio and computer technology into a tiny device you wear on your wrist or carry in your pocket The device is prograthmed to broadeast (like a’garage door opener) pertinent’ information such as your age, astrological sign, tastes, and availability for friendship or romance. This gadget sends out messages every 20 seconds, and also receives kindred messageC So you’re out walking in Lincoln Park some day and suddenly your gadget1tarts buzzing, and you look around and see a stranger who also has a buzzing gadget. Instant friendship. He hasn’t named it yet. How about Mt. St. Helen’s Romance Router? Incidentally, we checked with the St Louis Better Business BUreau and the Missouri attorney generes, office, and they, have no beefs against Busch or his company.”
Source: Chicago Tribune: 19810420
Quote: “If I were to elaborate, you would see that each step was perfectly logical and that these gentle sybarites did nothing to rush me. Nor was there even the mildest attempt to seduce me, not even a hint that I had already raped (symbolic rape, at least) my host the night before. Then I shared with them a sybaritic feast in their living room (drawing room, great hall, whatever) in front of a fire that was actually one of Ian’s gadgets. I was dressed in one of Janet’s negligees – Janet’s notion of a dinner-gown negligee would have got her arrested in Christchurch. But it did not cause a pass from either man.”
Author: Heinlein, Robert A
Source: New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Quote: “The ache of waking was still too sharp for him to bear. In the dream, he had forgotten what he was. Nothing human, but only a gadget. Half machine and half alive, a creation of computer science and genetic engineering, his mind – rather, his own controlling program? patched from bits of skill and know-how the Defender had been expected to require, his human recollections a haphazard mix picked up by lab accident. Floating weightless in the dark birthcell, he explored himself again. The cold and hairless flesh, pliantly metallic. The throbbing umbilical, only slightly warmer, coiling out of darkness to his belly.”
Author: Williamson, Jack
Source: New York: Ballantine Books
Quote: “This little gadget of mine can send out eight different beams with a total horsepower output of around eight thousand per minute per beam. From each beam you can draw enough power to turn the page of a book or fly a superstratosphere plane. Hold on – I haven’t finished yet. Each beam, as I told you before, returns a signal from receiver to transmitter. This not only controls the power output of the beam, but directs it. Once contact is made, the beam will never let go”
Author: Sturgeon, Theodore
Source: New York: Bluejay