Calvin's Lightning Bug
The last few days have been incredible. I thank you all for your support and for spreading the word. We are 89.2% of the way there and 3 days to go.
I wanted to share with you a TIME article, "Transport: Biologist Bug", about Calvin Bridges singular hobby during his time in California. The article dates back 77 years and shows yet another side of this eccentric scientist: a car designer, builder and artist.
With this write-up, I include a photo of Calvin and his very own "Lightning Bug", a streamline 1930s 'teardrop' automobile fresh from the Acme Auto Paint Shop. A special thanks to family member, Janet Cauffiel, for sharing this unique gem.
The "Lightning Bug" will have a cameo in the feature, The Fly Room.
Transport: Biologist's Bug
Monday, May 04, 1936
Longtime protégé of Nobel Prizeman Thomas Hunt Morgan and now a famed geneticist in his own right, Dr. Calvin Blackman Bridges of Carnegie Institution of Washington breeds thousands of fruit flies in glass jars, studies their variations and heredity mechanisms under the microscope. Dr. Bridges knows a great deal about genes, the infinitesimal control switches of heredity, and he has detected in the chromosomes of his little insects patterns that may consist of the genes themselves (TIME, March 9). In Los Angeles last week photographers snapped the biologist standing beside a strange three-wheeled automobile. Designer and builder of the automobile was none other than Dr. Calvin Blackman Bridges.
This car, which Dr. Bridges calls "Lightning Bug," looks something like the Dymaxion designed by Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller (TIME, June 12, 1933), but is smaller and squattier. It is almost perfectly streamlined, even the license plates and tail-lamp being recessed into the body and covered with Pyralin windows flush with the streamlining. There are no door handles; the doors must be opened with special keys. Dr. Bridges pronounced the Lightning Bug crash-proof and carbon-monoxide-proof. "My whole aim," said he, "was to show what could be done to attain safety, economy and readability in a small car."
Newshawks discovered that for months, when he got tired of looking at fruit flies, the geneticist had retired to a garage, put on a greasy jumper and worked on his car far into the night, hammering, welding, machining parts on a lathe. Now & then, the foreman reported, Dr. Bridges hit his thumb with a hammer. Once he had to visit a hospital to have removed some tiny bits of steel which flew into his eyes. It was Calvin Bridges' splendid eyesight which first attracted Dr. Morgan's interest in him when Bridges was a shaggy, enthusiastic student at Columbia.