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The Backyard Inventor Who Claims He Built a Time Machine

Mad man Mike

In a sleepy town in Missouri, an eccentric amateur inventor named Mike Markham was quietly tinkering away on an impossible dream – trying to build a time machine in his own backyard. While the idea seems straight out of a sci-fi movie, Markham’s story managed to captivate minds across the nation in the 1990s and early 2000s.

It all started when the 21-year-old Markham, who had an aptitude for electronics despite lacking formal training, was trying to build a variant of a Jacob’s Ladder high voltage device. However, instead of the climbing electrical arcs he expected, Markham claimed he accidentally created a shimmering Energy vortex or distortion field hovering above his contraption.

In an act of curiosity and bravery (or perhaps foolishness), Markham began tossing objects into this mysterious vortex, only to have them disappear and then reappear seconds later a couple feet away. He became convinced that he had actually built a crude time machine capable of displacing objects briefly into the future.

This backyard science experiment could have remained a quirky local legend, if not for the involvement of the paranormal radio host Art Bell. Bell caught wind of Markham’s claims of inventing a time machine and managed to get the young man telling his story over the airwaves on the Coast to Coast AM show.

While Markham admitted his device seemed to only work on a small scale, sending objects forward by mere seconds, he came across as genuine during the interview. He demonstrated a working knowledge of electrical engineering principles that seemed beyond his young age and limited education. Some theoretical physicists even admitted that Markham’s high voltage approach wasn’t completely ridiculous if time travel were actually possible.

This nationwide exposure unlocked a floodgate of support and offers of help for the aspiring “madman” inventor, as Bell referred to him. People donated equipment, funds, and even access to warehouses and industrial power sources to allow Markham to upscale his time machine prototype.

Over the next year, riding on this wave of encouragement and resources, Markham constructed increasingly powerful versions of his device, culminating in a 15-foot tall behemoth powered by 3 million volts of electricity. It used rotating magnetic fields to create a “plasma tornado” effect that he claimed could displace objects across both time and space.

According to Markham, his tests grew bolder, eventually causing a couch to completely disappear while his cat was unfortunately sitting upon it (leading to his remorseful quip “what a waste of a perfectly good couch”). He claimed to have successfully sent baseballs, bits of wood, small animals, and eventually himself through the vortex, being displaced up to two years into the future with temporary amnesia before finding himself hundreds of miles away.

Despite these mind-bending claims, Markham seemed to lack the ego or arrogance that often accompanies such fantastic tales. In his radio interviews, he came across as humble and grounded, not seeking fame or glory, but simply wanting to share his inadvertent discoveries and get assistance from others to further his research.

Markham’s strange story seemingly fell dormant for several years until Art Bell managed to reconnect with him in the mid 2010s. In this interview, Markham provided an update that he had not given up on his time travel ambitions and was seeking to rebuild his machine once again through the help of crowdsourced funding.

Of course, Markham’s tale, as enthralling as it may be, should be approached with a hefty dose of skepticism. He openly acknowledged gaps in his knowledge and errors in recounting certain embellished details that had spread about his exploits, such as the famous “cat on the couch” anecdote.

It’s quite possible his experiments never achieved anything beyond conventional electrical discharges misinterpreted as something more fantastic. His story reads like an intricate weight loss product fiction or creative writing exercise blended with some genuine scientific knowledge of electromagnetism and high voltage principles.

Yet, there is an undeniable appeal to imagining this eccentric, unassuming man achieving something so revolutionary in his own humble garage or basement workshop – perhaps getting a few crucial steps closer to realizing the sci-fi dream of defeating the “time barrier.”

Even if Mike Markham’s time machine story proves to be merely an inventive thought experiment, his strange saga serves as a fascinating parable celebrating human curiosity, ingenuity and persistence against incredible odds. After all, many of humanity’s greatest inventions and discoveries were first dismissed as insane ramblings until they eventually became realities.

So while we may never know if Markham truly became an amateur Silicon Valley-style disruptor in the realm of theoretical physics, perhaps it’s better to leave the final verdict open and undefined – because the possibility, however remote, is just too tantalizing to close the book on completely.

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