Pat Shingleton: "Solar Armor..."
Bogus stories lace the colorful history of Death Valley, CA. Here's a good one. In 1874, the editor of the Virginia Territorial Enterprise needed some space to fill. He concocted a story about a scientist who invented a suit called, "solar armor." The scientist covered himself with a sponge-like material, saturated himself with water and set across the desert. According to the newspaper article, they discovered the inventor perched on a rock, frozen solid. The rapid evaporation of water had supposedly turned the sponge into ice. The scientist's beard was covered with frost and a foot-long icicle hung from the end of his nose. Back then, the story had the trappings of scientific fact. The hoax was so successful, newspapers all over the world reprinted it. Perspiring does lower the body temperature, as more people have died of dehydration in Death Valley than heat stroke.