October 2, 1851 - Today was the day that a Frenchman named Jacques Toussaint Benoit performed a demonstration of the pasilalinic-sympathetic compass. This was an imaginative contraption that he hoped would prove that snails were able to communicate telepathically.
Benoit claimed that by harnessing this miraculous form of "animal magnetism," humans would be on the verge of a major revolution in communication.
The demonstration put two sets of 24 snails in two separate boxes. Each snail was glued to a letter of the alphabet. By using the snails in one box as a keyboard to spell out words, a person watching the other box would be able to receive the words once the corresponding snails received the telepathic messages. During the demonstration, Benoit kept walking back and forth between the boxes and many observers believed they were witnessing a hoax. Benoit insisted that his theory and the experiment were legitimate, but when his benefactor demanded a more stringent test, Benoit packed up his snails and left town.
The development of the snail compass has been stalled ever since.