Basel Saheb

From Kook Science

Basel Saheb (also given variously as Basilo/Basile Sahib[e]; d. 23 May 1901) was an inventor and Columbia University student of Syrian origin who was found by New York police authorities to have committed suicide following the failure of a perpetual motion machine he had built.

Press Coverage

  • "WHEELS CAUSED HIS SUICIDE. They Would Not Revolve Perpetual, and So Syrian Student Shot Himself.", New York Times: 16, 24 May 1901, 

    Baffled by the problem of perpetual motion, to solve which had long been his ambition, Basel Saheb, a young Syrian student at Columbia University, committed suicide by shooting himself in the left breast with a revolver, in his furnished room, at 131 West One Hundred and Eleventh Street, early last evening.

    Wheels that would not revolve and mechanisms that would not operate, at least without the application of external force, were scattered about the room in goodly variety, for he had money to follow the phantom hobby on which he had set his heart.

    Saheb was the son of Abdallah Saheb, a merchant of Aleppo, in Tripoli, Syria, and remittances came to him regularly through the mails. He was twenty-four years old, and came to this country three years ago. He left the house every morning and returned at night to pursue his studies in one of the technical schools of the university.

    Of late he had grown more and more despondent, feeling that his limited knowledge of English kept him behind the others in his studies, and a short time ago declared that he had given up hope of ever inventing a motor that would of itself evolve its own power. His work showed cleverness with tools. He has an uncle and a cousin his this city, who will bury him.

  • "Basile Sahabe, an Assyrian, shot himself through the heart today at his home in [New York]", Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine): 2, 24 May 1901,, "The suicide is attributed to his strenuous efforts to perfect a 'perpetual motion' machine." 
  • "INVENTOR'S DESPAIR, Syrian Kills Himself Because He Can't Contrive Perpetual Motion", Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, Minn.): 17, 24 May 1901, 
  • "Ends Life in Despair", Fullerton Post (Fullerton, Neb.): 2, 31 May 1901, 

    New York, May 28. — Policeman, after an investigation, say that Basile Sahib, a Syrian, 24 years old, who lived at 131 West One Hundred and Eleventh street, shot himself through the heart because of the repeated failures of the 'perpetual motion' machine he contrived. The landlady of the house where he lived says he constructed many strange machines, then tore them to pieces again, sometimes in anger. He destroyed one last Friday, and soon afterward a pistol shot was heard. When his room was entered he was found dead.