Could it be? Is it possible that an aristocrat in Victorian England, through blind tinkering and sheer curiosity, discovered stimulated emission of photons and unwittingly invented an ultra-violet laser before even the seeds of classic electromagnetic theory were sown?
No, probably not. But a letter purporting to be from Ernest Glitch to Michael Faraday describing the lasing phenomena (and the inevitable blinding of his assistant) makes for a great read.
“[Hodges] actually had the audacity to assume a proprietorial stance next to the plates […] he looked, not directly down onto the gap but along it`s axis. How imbecilic I thought, as I cranked the machine. […] When the prime started sparking over, Hodges emitted a scream the like of which I hadn`t heard since his scrotum was burned off during my experiment with fluorine gas last year. Hodges staggered back from the plates, covering his right eye and uttering blasphemities which would have themselves led to his dismissal, even had he not been blinded.”