I remember a story with a Professor who gets invited by an inventor to his house. The inventor shows him a device, (actually two, one on each side) that will disassemble all matter in between to its constituent particles. The device can then reassemble the particles back to the original.

He demonstrates on the Professor while the Professor's assistant watches, then undoes the process. Meanwhile, he's talking about how he's going to sell this device to governments, and the Professor gets worried about the consequences of something like that in the hands of anyone, really. The Professor pretends there's a leak of electricity coming from the chair that the device is positioned about, and gets the inventor to sit on the chair. He then vaporizes the inventor and leaves. I think the author also wrote other stories about this Professor character, if it helps.

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    So many of these details match "Branestawm's Disappearing Abolisher" (one of Norman Hunter's Professor Branestawm stories); are you sure that it was the professor faking an electricity leak in order to turn the device on the inventor, as opposed to the professor (who invented the device) and a colonel demonstrating the device to a classroom full of students and one of the students turning the device on the professor while the colonel was out of the room? May 28, 2014 at 6:49
  • @TheBeardyMan I'm pretty sure the story is as I described. My character seems more "with it" than this one seems to me. If a student turned it on the Professor, how did he survive to have more stories? One of the other stories with this character (I think it was the same one) was where they went into a jail to prove they could break out. Does that sound familiar?
    – ike
    May 29, 2014 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Perfect summary! It is one of Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger stories: The Disintegration Machine.

Professor Challenger is perhaps best known from his first appearance in The Lost World, but Conan Doyle wrote several more short stories and novellas featuring the larger-than-life Victorian scientist, finally using the character as a mouthpiece for his spiritualist beliefs in The Land of Mist.

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