6

The part I remember is that, possibly after a UFO or similar sighting, a farm-hand/individual suddenly puts together a machine that is self powered from the resources of the rubbish pile (metals etc) (by a barn?).

This astonishes the army, generals etc; at the end he disassembles it before they find out how it works.

The phrase I think I remember is that at the end:

He quietly said "whee"!

  • I remember reading that story, so I can confirm that it exists and you've got the last line at least approximately right, but I'm afraid that's all I remember. – Mike Scott May 10 '14 at 19:27
10

The story is "The Available Data on the Worp Reaction" (Google Books) by Lion Miller. An audio version of the story is currently available on YouTube.

The last paragraph of the story:

Now, unmoved be an occasional berating by L. S. Worp, silent before an infrequent official interrogation, Aldous Worp sits on a box in the back yard of his ancestral home, gazing serenely out over the city dump. Once in a very great while his eyes light up for a moment and he says "Whee!" very quietly.

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  • I remember "The Available Data on the Worp Reaction" well The last paragraph quoted is as I recall it, and remember that L.S. Worp that "each piece fitted together tighter than a duck's..." The device emitted a purple light from underneath when Aldous Worp climbed on it and operated some kind of a wheel or handle to make it lift. A very enjoyable short story. Whee! – Mitzi-Lynne Morgan Nov 1 '19 at 20:29
4

It sounds like you're looking for Robot AL-76 Goes Astray, by Isaac Asimov, collected in The Rest Of The Robots (and, I suspect, a lot of other books).

A robot intended for mining on the Moon gets lost on Earth; it attempts to perform its mining job, and puts together its own mining equipment from junk parts that it scavenges. It comes up with something that's a lot more efficient than the standard equipment - from memory, it demolishes a mountain using something powered by a small battery.

In the end, the robot is ordered to forget what it did, which it does, all too literally.

But this Disinto worked differently. I went through the rubbish with a microscope, and would you like to see the only source of power of any kind that I found?"

"What was it?"

"Just this! And we'll never know how he did it." And Austin Wilde held up the source of power that had enabled a Disinto to chew up a mountain in half a second, two flashlight batteries!

You can read the full story online here;

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