Thilorier, the Physicist
Thilorier was heavily involved with the search for a motor destined to
replace the steam engine and he thought to have found it with the
application of Carbon Acid that he had actually condensed. Steam was
then considered as a gross and outdated means of transportation. The
following article from the Patrie of September 22nd, 1859 illustrates that:
“If Thilorier found an incomparable power motor, the steam engine
would be no more than a childish toy, he would still need to regulate
its power, and he failed in his three or four tests. The explosions of the
devices had seriously injured the martyr of Science, making him almost
Meanwhile, experiences with the condensation of Carbonic acid
seemed to have been renovated at the College of France. Out of imprudence
or dismal chance, the device broke and exploded, gravely hurting
several people and taking the life of an assistant to Professor Thilorier,
who also lost a finger.
He was not as sorry for his finger as he was for the negative publicity
given to his newly found motor. Scientists were taken by fear and
refused to give in to the naïve arguments of Thilorier: “The condensation device exploded twenty times in my hands and this is the first time that
it killed someone! It has never gone beyond hurting me!” Only the name
“Carbonic acid” was enough to keep the whole Institute away, not to mention
the Sorbonne and the College of France.
Somewhat saddened by all that, Thilorier withdrew himself to his
laboratory more than usual. His loved ones soon noticed the profound
changes in his habits. He spent days in a row not even thinking of taking
his cat in his lap. He walked in strides and no longer touched his retorts
or alembics. On occasions when he left home he would suddenly stop in
the middle of the road, not even noticing the curiosity and worry of the
As he was a man of soft and distinct appearance, with beautiful
hair that was just starting to turn grey, wearing the emblem of the
Legion of Honor on the lapel of his blue coat, he was looked at with
sympathy. One day a young lady taken by compassion took him by
the arm and moved him from the road to the sidewalk. He did not
even bother to thank his kind benefactor. He used to walk by his best
friends and not see them and not respond to them when they talked to
him. A single idea had taken him over, like the subtle line that keeps
the genius from madness. Talking to one of his friends in the laboratory,
one day he said:
• I have finally solved my problem. As you know, a few weeks ago
my condensation device broke down at the Sorbonne…
• A few weeks? I interrupted him. But that was several years ago!
• Ah! He continued impassibly, has it then taken me so long to
solve my problem? A few weeks or a few years, who cares if in the
end I have my solution! Yes my friend, not only an explosion is
impossible but I also dominate that terrible force. It is my slave!
I can use it at will to move huge masses, to give life to gigantic
machines, or force them to play with the most delicate devices,
without breaking them!
• And as I kept looking at him stunned, he shouted laughing:
• For God sake, he doubts me! But look at this design, these outlines;
and if you don’t believe your eyes, listen to me!
• Then, with an unquestionable lucidity, even to a strange man at
the archives of Science, he explained the means at his disposal to
execute his work. One could not object one single point of his
theory. His theory was irrefutable in all of them.
• I need three days to build my device, he said. I want to build it
myself, with my own hands. Come to see me the day after tomorrow…
And you who did not leave me, you that had no doubt
about me, you that have defended me with your pen, you shall be
the first to share and enjoy the success with me.
• I was in fact faithful, as he said.
• When I was passing by the reception, the person in charge said:
Oh! Sir, what a disgrace, don’t you agree? Such a good man! A
man born for goodness, dying so fast like that!
• But who? What are you talking about?
• Mr. Thilorier. He has just died.
• Ah! She was telling the truth. My unfortunate friend had been hit
by a sudden death in the lab.
• What has happened to his discovery? Not one trace of the details
that he had shown me was found; his notes, if he left any, were
also lost. Had he solved the great problem that tormented him?
God knows! God who had not allowed him to transmit his crazy
or sublime thought but to a profane, incapable of distinguishing
the true from the false, and above all, keeping the memory of the
theory on which the inventor based his ideas. In any case the condensation
of the Carbonic acid today is no more than a curious
experiment that the teachers rarely demonstrate in their courses.
Had Thilorier outlived a few more days perhaps the Carbonic
acid could have transformed the face of the world.
Would Thilorier have found or not what he was looking for? In
any case, it would be interesting to know what he thought as a
1. Evocation. – A. I am here and very glad to be among you.
2. We wish to speak with you because we believe that we can
learn from a conversation with the spirit of a scientist, like
you were when alive. – A. The spirit of a scientist is sometimes
more elevated on Earth than in Heavens. However,
when Science walks together with probity, this shall be a
guarantee of spiritual superiority.
3. As a physicist you were particularly concerned with the search
for a motor to replace steam and you thought to have found
it in the condensed Carbonic acid. What do you think about
that now? – I had such a fixed idea about this subject that I
had a dream on the eve of my death, or to be more accurate,
at the time of my spiritual resurrection.
4. A few days before you died you thought you had found the
solution to the practical difficulties. Had you really found
that? – A. I tell you that the super excitation of imagination
had given me a fantastic dream that I announced when
awake. It was, to be accurate, what you call madness. My
dream was not absolutely applicable.
5. Were you here when the article about you was read? – A. Yes.
6. What is your opinion about that? – A. Not much. I rest in the
arms of my guardian angel since my poor soul left its miserable
body very shocked.
7. Nonetheless, could you answer a few questions about science? –
A. Yes, for a moment I am willing to get into the intricacies of
8. Do you think that the steam engine shall be replaced by another
motor? – A. That is already well advanced. However, I do believe that in the future human intelligence will find
ways of simplifying it even further.
9. What is your opinion about compressed air as a driving force? –
A. Compressed air is an excellent driving force, lighter and more
economical than steam. When its use is better understood, it will
have more power hence more velocity.
10. What is your opinion now about the use of condensed
Carbonic acid for that? – A. I was still far off on that. There
will still be numerous tests on that and difficult studies to
come to a conclusion. There is still a lot to be achieved by
11. Considering all the motors that are analyzed now, in your
opinion which one shall be the winner? – A. Now, steam;
later, compressed air.
12. Have you seen Arago again? – A. Yes.
13. Do you talk about sciences? – A. Sometimes the faculties of
our intelligences are dedicated to human studies. We like
very much to watch the current experiments but when we
return to heaven that is no longer a concern. Besides, as I said,
at the moment I rest.
14. Still one question, but please, this is very serious; in case you
cannot answer that yourself then kindly request the support
of a more competent spirit. We have always been told that
the spirits use to suggest ideas to people and that many discoveries
have that origin. However, since not all spirits know
everything and some seek instruction, can you tell us if some
of them do research and discoveries as spirits? – A. Yes. When
a spirit has reached a more advanced level, God assigns a mission
to that spirit, putting him in charge of getting involved
with this or that science, useful to human beings. That is
when such intelligence, obeying God, searches in the secrets
of nature that God allows him to foresee, for everything that needs to be learned with that aim. When he has learned
enough he then finds an individual capable of learning that
and in turn passing it on. That person is suddenly taken by
a single thought; he can only think of that, he speaks about
that all the time; he dreams day and night, hears celestial
voices talking to him. Then, when it is totally developed in
his mind, that person announces to the world a discovery or
a new development. That is how the great people have been
inspired, in most cases.
15. We thank you for your kindness in giving us your answers
and for having left your resting place for a moment. – A. I
will pray to God so that he can inspire and watch over you.
NOTE: Mrs. G… that eventually sees the spirits describes the
impressions she received during the evocation of Thilorier.
She saw a spirit that she believes to be his.
16. (to St. Louis) Can you kindly tell us if the spirit that Mrs. G…
saw was really that of Thilorier? – A. It is not exactly that spirit
that the lady has just seen. Later her eyes will be more used to
distinguishing the form or perispirit and she will know perfectly
well. At this point in time it is a kind of mirage to her.
Note: The following questions were also addressed to St.
17. If the authors of discoveries are assisted by spirits that suggest
the ideas, how come some people believe to have invented
while in fact they invented nothing, or only invent
illusions? – A. They are deluded by deceiving spirits that
take over their brains once these are open to mistakes.
18. How do you explain the fact that the spirit so frequently
chooses people incapable of carrying a discovery to the end? - The brains less filled by human prevention are the ones more
capable of receiving the dangerous seed of the unknown. The
spirit does not choose such a person for being incapable; it is
the person that cannot fructify the received seed.
19. But in that case it is science that suffers and that does not
explain why the spirit does not preferably addresses a capable
person. – A. Science suffers nothing because what one
sketches the other finishes, and during the interval the idea
20. When a discovery is premature, can providential obstacles
oppose its propagation? – A. Nothing can ever stop the development
of a useful idea. God would not allow it. It is necessary
that such idea follow its course.
21. When Papin discovered the steam power several tests were realized
in order to utilize it, obtaining very satisfactory results,
but remained in a theoretical state. How can one explain that
such a great discovery had remained dormant for such a long
time, since the elements were known and there was no lack of
capable people to promote it? Was it due to the insufficiency
of knowledge or time had not come yet for the revolution that
it would provoke in the industry? – A. For the communication
of discoveries that transform the outward appearance of
things, God leaves the idea to mature, like the corncobs whose
development is blocked by the winter, but only delayed. The
idea must germinate for a long time so that it may sprout when
needed by all. The same happens to the moral ideas that first
germinate and are only implanted when they reach maturity.
For example, at this moment Spiritism became a necessity, it
shall be received as a blessing, because all other philosophies
had been futilely tried to meet the aspirations of people.
Last year the papers reported a case of suicide that took place under
special circumstances. It was in the beginning of the Italian war. The
head of a family that enjoyed the sympathy of the neighborhood had a son
who was drafted to the war. Since his position did not allow him to avoid
his son’s military service he then had the idea of killing himself, so that
his son would be exempted as the only son of a widow.
Was the death a trial to the father or to the mother? In any case it is
likely that God might have taken into consideration the dedication of that
man and that suicide has not had the same consequences for him if he had
done it for other reasons.
(To St. Louis) – Can you tell us if we can evoke the man that we have
just mentioned? – A. Yes. That will make him very happy because it will
give him some relief.
1. Evocation. – A. Oh! I suffer a lot but… it is fair. However, he will
OBSERVATION: The spirit writes with great difficulty. The
characters are irregular and badly written. After the word but he
stops and tries to write, unsuccessfully, just writing some indecipherable
traces and points. It is obvious that he could not write
the word God.
2. Fill the blank that you left. – A. I am unworthy.
3. You say that you suffer. There is no doubt that you made a mistake
by committing suicide but has the reason that led you to do
that granted you any indulgence? – A. My punishment will be
shorter but the action is not less serious.
4. Could you describe the punishment that you endure, giving us
the maximum amount of details to our instruction? – A. I suffer
twice as much, in the soul and in the body; although I have no
more body, I suffer like the amputee with the absent member.
5. Was the only cause of your action the salvation of your son or
were you driven by another cause? – A. I was guided by the paternal
love only, but it was a bad guide. That is why my penalty
will be abbreviated.
6. Can you foresee the end of your suffering? – A. I cannot see the
end but I am sure there is an end, and that comforts me.
7. A short while ago you could not write the word God. However,
we have seen very unfortunate spirits writing it. Is it part of your
punishment? – A. I shall do it but with great effort and regret.
8. Well done! Go for it and try to write the word. We are convinced
that if you succeed it will bring you relief.
The spirit ended up writing the word, with irregular, large and
shaky characters: “God is very good.”
9. We are thankful to you for having attended our appeal and we
send our prayers to God in your favor so that his mercy may reach
you. – A. Yes, please.
10. (To St. Louis) Could you give us your personal opinion about
the action of this spirit that we have just evoked? – A. This spirit suffers in fairness because he lost his trust in God, a fact that is
always subject to punishment. His punishment would be long
and terrible if he did not have a plausible motive in his favor, like
impeding his son to march to death. God that sees the bottom of
people’s hearts, and who is fair, will not punish him but according
to his deeds.
OBSERVATION: Through his action that man might have impeded
the accomplishment of his son’s destiny. To begin with
it is not certain that he would die in the war and perhaps that
career would have given him an opportunity to do something
useful to his progress. Undoubtedly such a consideration shall
not be alien to the severity of his punishment. His intention was
certainly good and that was taken into account in his case. The
intention attenuates the fault and deserves indulgence, but it does
not hinder the bad from being bad. If it were not for that, one
could excuse every wrongdoing and even kill under the pretext of
good intention. Could one believe, for example, that we can kill
a hopeless man in order to abbreviate his sufferings? No because
that action would abbreviate the trial that he has to undergo and
we would do more harm than good. Is the mother who kills her
child in hopes that the child will go to heaven less culpable because
she did so out of a good intention? Based on such a system
we would justify every crime that was committed by blind fanaticism
in the religious wars.