Hieronymus machines are radionics devices invented by electrical engineer Thomas Galen Hieronymus (November 21, 1895 – February 21, 1988), who received a U.S. patent for the first of them in 1949. The patent application described it as a device for "detection of emanations from materials and measurement of the volumes thereof."
Skeptics consider the machines pseudoscientific quackery, but they had a heyday in Astounding in its credulous fifties.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
|What Campbell took up after he'd lived down Dianetics, proving something about that proverb anent burnt fools shunning the fire. The Hieronymous machine is a wonderful collection of circuitry by means of which the adept can analyze ores, alloys, and such things; one inserts the specimen, twiddles the dials 'n all, and gets a sticky feeling on an attached plate of "insulating material"... or doesn't, if he happens not to have the Gift. The machine is supposed to work fine even if you only have a photograph of the stuff you're assaying (without even indicating an abnormally high silver content), and Campbell claims that the machine works just as well as ever if, instead of silly old expensive parts, a pen-and-ink drawing of the circuit is used between the specimen and the detecting plate. (This isn't unlikely.) Martin Alger is reputed to have made vast sums by taking advantage of the machine's method of detection. Algeristic Hieronymous machines were modified so that lecherous young fen who used them found that the plate, properly tuned, didn't feel as if it were sticky...
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