Nikola Tesla: My Inventions (Chapter 6: The Magnifying Transmitter)
The New York Times (27 March, 1904)
N. Tesla: US PAtent # 1,119,732 ~ Apparatus for Transmitting Electrical Energy
N. Tesla: US Patent # 593,138 ~ Electrical Transformer
N. Tesla: US Patent # 645,576 ~ System of Transmission of Electrical Energy
N. Tesla: US Patent # 685,958 ~ Method of Utilizing Radiant Energy
N. Tesla: US Patent # 787,412 ~ Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy through the Natural Mediums
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
by Nikola Tesla
The Magnifying Transmitter
No subject to which I have ever devoted myself has called for such concentration of mind, and strained to so dangerous a degree the finest fibbers of my brain, as the systems of which the Magnifying Transmitter is the foundation. I put all the intensity and vigor of youth in the development of the rotating field discoveries, but those early labours were of a different character. Although strenuous in the extreme, they did not involve that keen and exhausting discernment which had to be exercised in attacking the many problems of the wireless.
Despite my rare physical endurance at that period, the abused nerves finally rebelled and I suffered a complete collapse, just as the consummation of the long and difficult task was almost in sight. Without doubt I would have paid a greater penalty later, and very likely my career would have been prematurely terminated, had not providence equipped me with a safety device, which seemed to improve with advancing years and unfailingly comes to play when my forces are at an end. So long as it operates I am safe from danger, due to overwork, which threatens other inventors, and incidentally, I need no vacations which are indispensable to most people. When I am all but used up, I simply do as the darkies who "naturally fall asleep while white folks worry."
To venture a theory out of my sphere, the body probably accumulates little by little a definite quantity of some toxic agent and I sink into a nearly lethargic state which lasts half an hour to the minute. Upon awakening I have the sensation as though the events immediately preceding had occurred very long ago, and if I attempt to continue the interrupted train of thought I feel veritable nausea. Involuntarily, I then turn to other and am surprised at the freshness of the mind and ease with which I overcome obstacles that had baffled me before. After weeks or months, my passion for the temporarily abandoned invention returns and I invariably find answers to all the vexing questions, with scarcely any effort. In this connection, I will tell of an extraordinary experience which may be of interest to students of psychology. I had produced a striking phenomenon with my grounded transmitter and was endeavoring to ascertain its true significance in relation to the currents propagated through the earth. It seemed a hopeless undertaking, and for more than a year I worked unremittingly, but in vain. This profound study so entirely absorbed me, that I became forgetful of everything else, even of my undermined health. At last, as I was at the point of breaking down, nature applied the preservative inducing lethal sleep. Regaining my senses, I realized with consternation that I was unable to visualize scenes from my life except those of infancy, the very first ones that had entered my consciousness. Curiously enough, these appeared before my vision with startling distinctness and afforded me welcome relief. Night after night, when retiring, I would think of them and more and more of my previous existence was revealed. The image of my mother was always the principal figure in the spectacle that slowly unfolded, and a consuming desire to see her again gradually took possession of me. This feeling grew so strong that I resolved to drop all work and satisfy my longing, but I found it too hard to break away from the laboratory, and several months elapsed during which I had succeeded in reviving all the impressions of my past life, up to the spring of 1892. In the next picture that came out of the mist of oblivion, I saw myself at the Hotel de la Paix in Paris, just coming to from one of my peculiar sleeping spells, which had been caused by prolonged exertion of the brain. Imagine the pain and distress I felt, when it flashed upon my mind that a dispatch was handed to me at that very moment, bearing the sad news that my mother was dying. I remembered how I made the long journey home without an hour of rest and how she passed away after weeks of agony. It was especially remarkable that during all this period of partially obliterated memory, I was fully alive to everything touching on the subject of my research. I could recall the smallest detail and the least insignificant observations in my experiments and even recite pages of text and complex mathematical formulae.
My belief is firm in a law of compensation. The true rewards are ever in proportion to the labour and sacrifices made. This is one of the reasons why I feel certain that of all my inventions, the Magnifying Transmitter will prove most important and valuable to future generations. I am prompted to this prediction, not so much by thoughts of the commercial and industrial revolution which it will surely bring about, but of the humanization consequences of the many achievements it makes possible. Considerations of mere utility weigh little in the balance against the higher benefits of civilization. We are confronted with portentous problems which can not be solved just by providing for our material existence, however abundantly. On the contrary, progress in this direction is fraught with hazards and perils not less menacing than those born from want and suffering. If we were to release the energy of atoms or discover some other way of developing cheap and unlimited power at any point on the globe, this accomplishment, instead of being a blessing, might bring disaster to mankind in giving rise to dissension and anarchy, which would ultimately result in the enthronement of the hated regime of force. The greatest good will come from technical improvements tending to unification and harmony, and my wireless transmitter is preeminently such. By its means, the human voice and likeness will be reproduced everywhere and factories driven thousands of miles from waterfalls furnishing power. Aerial machines will be propelled around the earth without a stop and the sun's energy controlled to create lakes and rivers for motive purposes and transformation of arid deserts into fertile land. Its introduction for telegraphic, telephonic and similar uses, will automatically cut out the static and all other interferences which at present, impose narrow limits to the application of the wireless. This is a timely topic on which a few words might not be amiss.
During the past decade a number of people have arrogantly claimed that they had succeeded in doing away with this impediment. I have carefully examined all of the arrangements described and tested most of them long before they were publicly disclosed, but the finding was uniformly negative. Recent official statement from the U.S. Navy may, perhaps, have taught some beguilable news editors how to appraise these announcements at their real worth. As a rule, the attempts are based on theories so fallacious, that whenever they come to my notice, I can not help thinking in a light vein. Quite recently a new discovery was heralded, with a deafening flourish of trumpets, but it proved another case of a mountain bringing forth a mouse. This reminds me of an exciting incident which took place a year ago, when I was conducting my experiments with currents of high frequency.
Steve Brodie had just jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. The feat has been vulgarized since by imitators, but the first report electrified New York. I was very impressionable then and frequently spoke of the daring printer. On a hot afternoon I felt the necessity of refreshing myself and stepped into one of the popular thirty thousand institutions of this great city, where a delicious twelve per cent beverage was served, which can now be had only by making a trip to the poor and devastated countries of Europe. The attendance was large and not over-distinguished and a matter was discussed which gave me an admirable opening for the careless remark, "This is what I said when I jumped off the bridge." No sooner had I uttered these words, than I felt like the companion of Timothens, in the poem of Schiller. In an instant there was pandemonium and a dozen voices cried, "It is Brodie!" I threw a quarter on the counter and bolted for the door, but the crowd was at my heels with yells, "Stop, Steve!", which must have been misunderstood, for many persons tried to hold me up as I ran frantically for my haven of refuge. By darting around corners I fortunately managed, through the medium of a fire escape, to reach the laboratory, where I threw off my coat, camouflaged myself as a hardworking blacksmith and started the forge. But these precautions proved unnecessary, as I had eluded my pursuers. For many years afterward, at night, when imagination turns into specters the trifling troubles of the day, I often thought, as I tossed on the bed, what my fate would have been, had the mob caught me and found out that I was not Steve Brodie!
Now the engineer who lately gave an account before a technical body of a novel remedy against static based on a "heretofore unknown law of nature," seems to have been as reckless as myself when he contended that these disturbances propagate up and down, while those of a transmitter proceed along the earth. It would mean that a condenser as this globe, with its gaseous envelope, could be charged and discharged in a manner quite contrary to the fundamental teachings propounded in every elemental textbook of physics. Such a supposition would have been condemned as erroneous, even in Franklin's time, for the facts bearing on this were then well known and the identity between atmospheric electricity and that developed by machines was fully established. Obviously, natural and artificial disturbances propagate through the earth and the air in exactly the same way, and both set up electromotive forces in the horizontal, as well as vertical sense. Interference can not be overcome by any such methods as were proposed. The truth is this: In the air the potential increases at the rate of about fifty volts per foot of elevation, owing to which there may be a difference of pressure amounting to twenty, or even forty thousand volts between the upper and lower ends of the antenna. The masses of the charged atmosphere are constantly in motion and give up electricity to the conductor, not continuously, but rather disruptively, this producing a grinding noise in a sensitive telephonic receiver. The higher the terminal and the greater the space encompassed by the wires, the more pronounced is the effect, but it must be understood that it is purely local and has little to do with the real trouble.
In 1900, while perfecting my wireless system, one form of apparatus compressed four antennae. These were carefully calibrated in the same frequency and connected in multiple with the object of magnifying the action in receiving from any direction. When I desired to ascertain the origin of the transmitted impulse, each diagonally situated pair was put in series with a primary coil energizing the detector circuit. In the former case, the sound was loud in the telephone; in the latter it ceased, as expected, the two antennae neutralizing each other, but the true static manifested themselves in both instances and I had to devise special preventives embodying different principles. By employing receivers connected to two points of the ground, as suggested by me long ago, this trouble caused by the charged air, which is very serious in the structures as now built, is nullified and besides, the liability of all kinds of interference is reduced to about one-half because of the directional character of the circuit. This was perfectly self-evident, but came as a revelation to some simple-minded wireless folks whose experience was confined to forms of apparatus that could have been improved with an axe, and they have been disposing of the bear's skin before killing him. If it were true that strays performed such antics, it would be easy to get rid of them by receiving without aerials. But, as a matter of fact, a wire buried in the ground which, conforming to this view, should be absolutely immune, is more susceptible to certain extraneous impulses than one placed vertically in the air. To state it fairly, a slight progress has been made, but not by virtue of any particular method or device. It was achieved simply by discerning the enormous structures, which are bad enough for transmission but wholly unsuitable for reception and adopting a more appropriate type of receiver. As I have said before, to dispose of this difficulty for good, a radical change must be made in the system and the sooner this is done the better.
It would be calamitous, indeed, if at this time when the art is in its infancy and the vast majority, not excepting even experts, have no conception of its ultimate possibilities, a measure would be rushed through the legislature making it a government monopoly. This was proposed a few weeks ago by Secretary Daniel's and no doubt that distinguished official has made his appeal to the Senate and House of Representatives with sincere conviction. But universal evidence unmistakably shows that the best results are always obtained in healthful commercial competition. there are, however, exceptional reasons why wireless should be given the fullest freedom of development. In the first place, it offers prospects immeasurably greater and more vital to betterment of human life than any other invention or discovery in the history of man. Then again, it must be understood that this wonderful art has been, in its entirety, evolved here and can be called "American" with more right and propriety than the telephone, the incandescent lamp or the airplane.
Enterprising press agents and stock jobbers have been so successful in spreading misinformation, that even so excellent a periodical as the "Scientific American," accords the chief credit to a foreign country. The Germans, of course, gave us the Hertz waves and the Russian, English, French and Italian experts were quick in using them for signaling purposes. It was an obvious application of the new agent and accomplished with the old classical and unimproved induction coil, scarcely anything more than another kind of heliography. The radius of transmission was very limited, the result attained of little value, and the Hertz oscillations, as a means for conveying intelligence, could have been advantageously replaced by sound waves, which I advocated in 1891. Moreover, all of these attempts were made three years after the basic principles of the wireless system, which is universally employed today, and its potent instrumentalities had been clearly described and developed in America.
No trace of those Hertzian appliances and methods remains today. We have proceeded in the very opposite direction and what has been done is the product of the brains and efforts of citizens of this country. The fundamental patents have expired and the opportunities are open to all. The chief argument of the Secretary is based on interference. According to his statement, reported in the New York Herald of July 29th, signals from a powerful station can be intercepted in every village in the world. In view of this fact, which was demonstrated in my experiments in 1900, it would be of little use to impose restrictions in the United States.
As throwing light on this point, I may mention that only recently an odd looking gentleman called on me with the object of enlisting my services in the construction of world transmitters in some distant land. "We have no money," he said, "but carloads of solid gold, and we will give you a liberal amount." I told him that I wanted to see first what will be done with my inventions in America, and this ended the interview. But I am satisfied that some dark forces are at work, and as time goes on the maintenance of continuous communication will be rendered more difficult. The only remedy is a system immune against interruption. It has been perfected, it exists, and all that is necessary is to put it in operation.
The terrible conflict is still uppermost in the minds and perhaps the greatest importance will be attached to the Magnifying Transmitter as a machine for attack and defense, more particularly in connection with Telautomatics. This invention is a logical outcome of observations begun in my boyhood and continued throughout my life. When the first results were published, the Electrical Review stated editorially that it would become one of the "most potent factors in the advance of civilization of mankind." The time is not distant when this prediction will be fulfilled. In 1898 and 1900, it was offered by me to the Government and might have been adopted, were I one of those who would go to Alexander's shepherd when they want a favor from Alexander! At that time I really thought that it would abolish war, because of its unlimited destructiveness and exclusion of the personal element of combat. But while I have not lost faith in its potentialities, my views have changed since. War can not be avoided until the physical cause for its recurrence is removed and this, in the last analysis, is the vast extent of the planet on which we live. Only though annihilation of distance in every respect, as the conveyance of intelligence, transport of passengers and supplies and transmission of energy will conditions be brought about some day, insuring permanency of friendly relations. What we now want most is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth and the elimination of that fanatic devotion to exalted ideals of national egoism and pride, which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife. No league or parliamentary act of any kind will ever prevent such a calamity. These are only new devices for putting the weak at the mercy of the strong.
I have expressed myself in this regard fourteen years ago, when a combination of a few leading governments, a sort of Holy alliance, was advocated by the late Andrew Carnegie, who may be fairly considered as the father of this idea, having given to it more publicity and impetus than anybody else prior to the efforts of the President. While it can not be denied that such aspects might be of material advantage to some less fortunate peoples, it can not attain the chief objective sought. Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment and merging of races, and we are still far from this blissful realization, because few indeed, will admit the reality that God made man in His image in which case all earth men are alike. There is in fact but one race, of many colors. Christ is but one person, yet he is of all people, so why do some people think themselves better than some other people?
As I view the world of today, in the light of the gigantic struggle we have witnessed, I am filled with conviction that the interests of humanity would be best served if the United States remained true to its traditions, true to God whom it pretends to believe, and kept out of "entangling alliances." Situated as it is, geographically remote from the theaters of impending conflicts, without incentive to territorial aggrandizement, with inexhaustible resources and immense population thoroughly imbued with the spirit of liberty and right, this country is placed in a unique and privileged position. It is thus able to exert, independently, its colossal strength and moral force to the benefit of all, more judiciously and effectively, than as a member of a league.
I have dwelt on the circumstances of my early life and told of an affliction which compelled me to unremitting exercise of imagination and self-observation. This mental activity, at first involuntary under the pressure of illness and suffering, gradually became second nature and led me finally to recognize that I was but an automaton devoid of free will in thought and action and merely responsible to the forces of the environment. Our bodies are of such complexity of structure, the motions we perform are so numerous and involved and the external impressions on our sense organs to such a degree delicate and elusive, that it is hard for the average person to grasp this fact. Yet nothing is more convincing to the trained investigator than the mechanistic theory of life which had been, in a measure, understood and propounded by Descartes three hundred years ago. In his time many important functions of our organisms were unknown and especially with respect to the nature of light and the construction and operation of the eye, philosophers were in the dark.
In recent years the progress of scientific research in these fields has been such as to leave no room for a doubt in regard to this view on which many works have been published. One of its ablest and most eloquent exponents is, perhaps, Felix le Dantec, formerly assistant of Pasteur. Professor Jacques Loeb has performed remarkable experiments in heliotropism, clearly establishing the controlling power of light in lower forms of organisms and his latest book, "Forced Movements," is revelatory. But while men of science accept this theory simply as any other that is recognized, to me it is a truth which I hourly demonstrate by every act and thought of mine. The consciousness of the external impression prompting me to any kind of exertion, physical or mental, is ever present in my mind. Only on very rare occasions, when I was in a state of exceptional concentration, have I found difficulty in locating the original impulse. The by far greater number of human beings are never aware of what is passing around and within them and millions fall victims of disease and die prematurely just on this account. The commonest, everyday occurrences appear to them mysterious and inexplicable. One may feel a sudden wave of sadness and rack his brain for an explanation, when he might have noticed that it was caused by a cloud cutting off the rays of the sun. He may see the image of a friend dear to him under conditions which he construes as very peculiar, when only shortly before he has passed him in the street or seen his photograph somewhere. When he loses a collar button, he fusses and swears for an hour, being unable to visualize his previous actions and locate the object directly. Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing. There is not more than one out of every ten persons who does not believe in telepathy and other psychic manifestations, spiritualism and communion with the dead, and who would refuse to listen to willing or unwilling deceivers?
Just to illustrate how deeply rooted this tendency has become even among the clear-headed American population, I may mention a comical incident. Shortly before the war, when the exhibition of my turbines in this city elicited widespread comment in the technical papers, I anticipated that there would be a scramble among manufacturers to get hold of the invention and I had particular designs on that man from Detroit who has an uncanny faculty for accumulating millions. So confident was I, that he would turn up some day, that I declared this as certain to my secretary and assistants. Sure enough, one fine morning a body of engineers from the Ford Motor Company presented themselves with the request of discussing with me an important project. "Didn't I tell you?," I remarked triumphantly to my employees, and one of them said, "You are amazing, Mr. Tesla. Everything comes out exactly as you predict."
As soon as these hardheaded men were seated, I of course, immediately began to extol the wonderful features of my turbine, when the spokesman interrupted me and said, "We know all about this, but we are on a special errand. We have formed a psychological society for the investigation of psychic phenomena and we want you to join us in this undertaking." I suppose these engineers never knew how near they came to being fired out of my office. Ever since I was told by some of the greatest men of the time, leaders in science whose names are immortal, that I am possessed of an unusual mind, I bent all my thinking faculties on the solution of great problems regardless of sacrifice. For many years I endeavoured to solve the enigma of death, and watched eagerly for every kind of spiritual indication. But only once in the course of my existence have I had an experience which momentarily impressed me as supernatural. It was at the time of my mother's death. I had become completely exhausted by pain and long vigilance, and one night was carried to a building about two blocks from our home. As I lay helpless there, I thought that if my mother died while I was away from her bedside, she would surely give me a sign. Two or three months before, I was in London in company with my late friend, Sir William Crookes, when spiritualism was discussed and I was under the full sway of these thoughts. I might not have paid attention to other men, but was susceptible to his arguments as it was his epochal work on radiant matter, which I had read as a student, that made me embrace the electrical career. I reflected that the conditions for a look into the beyond were most favorable, for my mother was a woman of genius and particularly excelling in the powers of intuition. During the whole night every fibber in my brain was strained in expectancy, but nothing happened until early in the morning, when I fell in a sleep, or perhaps a swoon, and saw a cloud carrying angelic figures of marvelous beauty, one of whom gazed upon me lovingly and gradually assumed the features of my mother. The appearance slowly floated across the room and vanished, and I was awakened by an indescribably sweet song of many voices. In that instant a certitude, which no words can express, came upon me that my mother had just died. And that was true. I was unable to understand the tremendous weight of the painful knowledge I received in advance, and wrote a letter to Sir William Crookes while still under the domination of these impressions and in poor bodily health. When I recovered, I sought for a long time the external cause of this strange manifestation and, to my great relief, I succeeded after many months of fruitless effort.
I had seen the painting of a celebrated artist, representing allegorically one of the seasons in the form of a cloud with a group of angels which seemed to actually float in the air, and this had struck me forcefully. It was exactly the same that appeared in my dream, with the exception of my mother's likeness. The music came from the choir in the church nearby at the early mass of Easter morning, explaining everything satisfactorily in conformity with scientific facts. This occurred long ago, and I have never had the faintest reason since to change my views on psychical and spiritual phenomena, for which there is no foundation. The belief in these is the natural outgrowth of intellectual development. Religious dogmas are no longer accepted in their orthodox meaning, but every individual clings to faith in a supreme power of some kind.
We all must have an ideal to govern our conduct and insure contentment, but it is immaterial whether it be one of creed, art, science, or anything else, so long as it fulfills the function of a dematerializing force. It is essential to the peaceful existence of humanity as a whole that one common conception should prevail. While I have failed to obtain any evidence in support of the contentions of psychologists and spiritualists, I have proved to my complete satisfaction the automatism of life, not only through continuous observations of individual actions, but even more conclusively through certain generalizations. these amount to a discovery which I consider of the greatest moment to human society, and on which I shall briefly dwell.
I got the first inkling of this astonishing truth when I was still a very young man, but for many years I interpreted what I noted simply as coincidences. Namely, whenever either myself or a person to whom I was attached, or a cause to which I was devoted, was hurt by others in a particular way, which might be best popularly characterized as the most unfair imaginable, I experienced a singular and undefinable pain which, for the want of a better term, I have qualified as "cosmic" and shortly thereafter, and invariably, those who had inflicted it came to grief. After many such cases I confided this to a number of friends, who had the opportunity to convince themselves of the theory of which I have gradually formulated and which may be stated in the following few words: Our bodies are of similar construction and exposed to the same external forces. This results in likeness of response and concordance of the general activities on which all our social and other rules and laws are based. We are automata entirely controlled by the forces of the medium, being tossed about like corks on the surface of the water, but mistaking the resultant of the impulses from the outside for the free will. The movements and other actions we perform are always life preservative and though seemingly quite independent from one another, we are connected by invisible links. So long as the organism is in perfect order, it responds accurately to the agents that prompt it, but the moment that there is some derangement in any individual, his self-preservative power is impaired.
Everybody understands, of course, that if one becomes deaf, has his eyes weakened, or his limbs injured, the chances for his continued existence are lessened. But this is also true, and perhaps more so, of certain defects in the brain which drive the automaton, more or less, of that vital quality and cause it to rush into destruction. A very sensitive and observant being, with his highly developed mechanism all intact, and acting with precision in obedience to the changing conditions of the environment, is endowed with a transcending mechanical sense, enabling him to evade perils too subtle to be directly perceived. When he comes in contact with others whose controlling organs are radically faulty, that sense asserts itself and he feels the "cosmic" pain.
The truth of this has been borne out in hundreds of instances and I am inviting other students of nature to devote attention to this subject, believing that through combined systematic effort, results of incalculable value to the world will be attained. The idea of constructing an automaton, to bear out my theory, presented itself to me early, but I did not begin active work until 1895, when I started my wireless investigations. During the succeeding two or three years, a number of automatic mechanisms, to be actuated from a distance, were constructed by me and exhibited to visitors in my laboratory. In 1896, however, I designed a complete machine capable of a multitude of operations, but the consummation of my labours was delayed until late in 1897. This machine was illustrated and described in my article in the Century Magazine of June, 1900; and other periodicals of that time and when first shown in the beginning of 1898, it created a sensation such as no other invention of mine has ever produced. In November, 1898, a basic patent on the novel art was granted to me, but only after the Examiner-in-Chief had come to New York and witnessed the performance, for what I claimed seemed unbelievable. I remember that when later I called on an official in Washington, with a view of offering the invention to the Government, he burst out in laughter upon my telling him what I had accomplished. Nobody thought then that there was the faintest prospect of perfecting such a device. It is unfortunate that in this patent, following the advice of my attorneys, I indicated the control as being affected through the medium of a single circuit and a well-known form of detector, for the reason that I had not yet secured protection on my methods and apparatus for individualization. As a matter of fact, my boats were controlled through the joint action of several circuits and interference of every kind was excluded.
Most generally, I employed receiving circuits in the form of loops, including condensers, because the discharges of my high-tension transmitter ionized the air in the (laboratory) so that even a very small aerial would draw electricity from the surrounding atmosphere for hours. Just to give an idea, I found, for instance, that a bulb twelve inches in diameter, highly exhausted, and with one single terminal to which a short wire was attached, would deliver well on to one thousand successive flashes before all charge of the air in the laboratory was neutralized. The loop form of receiver was not sensitive to such a disturbance and it is curious to note that it is becoming popular at this late date. In reality, it collects much less energy than the aerials or a long grounded wire, but it so happens that it does away with a number of defects inherent to the present wireless devices.
In demonstrating my invention before audiences, the visitors were requested to ask questions, however involved, and the automaton would answer them by signs. This was considered magic at the time, but was extremely simple, for it was myself who gave the replies by means of the device. At the same period, another larger telautomatic boat was constructed, a photograph of which was shown in the October 1919 number of the Electrical Experimenter. It was controlled by loops, having several turns placed in the hull, which was made entirely watertight and capable of submergence. The apparatus was similar to that used in the first with the exception of certain special features I introduced as, for example, incandescent lamps which afforded a visible evidence of the proper functioning of the machine. These automata, controlled within the range of vision of the operator, were, however, the first and rather crude steps in the evolution of the art of Telautomatics as I had conceived it.
The next logical improvement was its application to automatic mechanisms beyond the limits of vision and at great distances from the center of control, and I have ever since advocated their employment as instruments of warfare in preference to guns. The importance of this now seems to be recognized, if I am to judge from casual announcements through the press, of achievements which are said to be extraordinary but contain no merit of novelty, whatever. In an imperfect manner it is practicable, with the existing wireless plants, to launch an airplane, have it follow a certain approximate course, and perform some operation at a distance of many hundreds of miles. A machine of this kind can also be mechanically controlled in several ways and I have no doubt that it may prove of some usefulness in war. But there are to my best knowledge, no instrumentalities in existence today with which such an object could be accomplished in a precise manner. I have devoted years of study to this matter and have evolved means, making such and greater wonders easily realizable.
As stated on a previous occasion, when I was a student at college I conceived a flying machine quite unlike the present ones. The underlying principle was sound, but could not be carried into practice for want of a prime-mover of sufficiently great activity. In recent years, I have successfully solved this problem and am now planning aerial machines *devoid of sustaining planes, ailerons, propellers, and other external* attachments, which will be capable of immense speeds and are very likely to furnish powerful arguments for peace in the near future. Such a machine, sustained and propelled "entirely by reaction," is shown on one of the pages of my lectures, and is supposed to be controlled either mechanically, or by wireless energy. By installing proper plants, it will be practicable to "project a missile of this kind into the air and drop it" almost on the very spot designated, which may be thousands of miles away.
But we are not going to stop at this. Telautomats will be ultimately produced, capable of acting as if possessed of their own intelligence, and their advent will create a revolution. As early as 1898, I proposed to representatives of a large manufacturing concern the construction and public exhibition of an automobile carriage which, left to itself, would perform a great variety of operations involving something akin to judgment. But my proposal was deemed chimerical at the time and nothing came of it. At present, many of the ablest minds are trying to devise expedients for preventing a repetition of the awful conflict which is only theoretically ended and the duration and main issues of which I have correctly predicted in an article printed in the SUN of December 20, 1914. The proposed League is not a remedy but, on the contrary, in the opinion of a number of competent men, may bring about results just the opposite.
It is particularly regrettable that a punitive policy was adopted in framing the terms of peace, because a few years hence, it will be possible for nations to fight without armies, ships or guns, by weapons far more terrible, to the destructive action and range of which there is virtually no limit. Any city, at a distance, whatsoever, from the enemy, can be destroyed by him and no power on earth can stop him from doing so. If we want to avert an impending calamity and a state of things which may transform the globe into an inferno, we should push the development of flying machines and wireless transmission of energy without an instant's delay and with all the power and resources of the nation.
The New York Times (27 March, 1904) ~
"Cloudborne Electric Wavelets To Encircle the Globe: This Is Nicola Tesla's Latest Dream, and the Long Island Hamlet of Wardenclyffe Marvels Thereat"
To gather in the latent electricity in the clouds and with the globe itself as a medium of transmission to convey telegraphic messages, power for commercial purposes, or even the sound of the human voice to the utmost confines of the earth is the latest dream of Nikola Tesla. In an article which appeared recently in The Electrical World Mr. Tesla explains the theories on which the world telegraphy system is founded and what he expects to accomplish by it.
His plans involve the establishment of stations for the transmission of messages and power, "preferably near important centers of civilization." Oddly enough, what Mr. Tesla proudly designates as the first of his commercial "world telegraphy" stations has been established at Wardenclyffe, L.I., which is not in any sense an important "centre of civilization," but a place described by train hands of the Long Island Railroad as a way station where "a passenger alights occasionally."
Tesla's "Magnifying Transmitter", at Wardenclyffe, Shoreham, LI (New York). The transmitting station is an octagonal tower, pyramidal in shape, and some 187 feet in height. It consists of huge wooden stilts, heavily braced, and reinforced, and surmounted by a cupola of interlaced steel wires, bent so as to form an arc. In the cupola there is a wooden platform occupying its entire width. Mr. Tesla began work on his transmitting station about eighteen months ago.
When he first came there, and it was understood that J. Pierpont Morgan had become interested in his odd enterprise and furnished him with financial assistance, a thrill of vague expectancy ran through the little settlement, The Wardenclyffe Land Company, which owns practically all the available ground in the vicinity, gave the inventor a free grant of some 175 acres of fine land, and then settled down to wait for the day when Wardenclyffe would become the centre of the universe.
Some of the farmers who come to Wardenclyffe to send their products to this city look at Mr. Tesla's tower, which is situated directly opposite the railroad station, and shake their heads sadly. They are inclined to take a skeptical view regarding the feasibility of the wireless "world telegraphy" idea, but yet Tesla's transmitting tower as it stands in lonely grandeur and boldly silhouetted against the sky on a wide clearing on the concession is a source or great satisfaction and of some mystification to them all.
"It is a mighty fine tower," said one food farmer to a visitor last week. "The breeze up there is something grand on a Summer evening, and you can see the Sound and all the steamers that go by. We are tired, though, trying to figure out why he put it here instead of at Coney Island. " While the tower itself is very "stagy" and picturesque, it is the wonders that are supposed to be hidden in the earth underneath it that excite the curiosity of the population in the little settlement.
In the centre of the wide concrete platform which serves as a base for the structure there is a wooden affair very much like the companionway on an ocean steamer. The tower and the enclosure in which it has been built are being carefully guarded these days, and no one except Mr. Tesla's own men are allowed to approach it. Only they have been allowed as much as the briefest peep down the companionway. Mr. Scherff, the private secretary of the inventor, told an inquirer that the companionway led to a small drainage passage built for the purpose of keeping the ground about the tower dry.
But such of the villagers as saw the tower constructed tell a different story. They declare that it leads to a well-like excavation as deep as the tower is high with walls of mason work and a circular stairway leading to the bottom.
From there, they say, tunnels have been built in all directions, until the entire ground below the little plain on which the tower is raised has been honeycombed with subterranean passages.
They tell with awe how Mr. Tesla, on his weekly visits to Wardenclyffe, spends as much time in the underground passages as he does on the tower or in the handsome laboratory and workshop erected beside it, and where the power plant for the world telegraph has been installed.
No instruments have been installed as yet in the transmitter, nor has Mr. Tesla given any description of what they will be like. But in his article he announces that he will transmit from the tower an electric wave of a total maximum activity of ten million horse power. This, he says, will be possible with a plant of but 100 horse power, by the use of a magnifying transmitter of his own invention and certain artifices which he promises to make known in due course. What he expects to accomplish is summed up in the closing paragraph as follows:
"When the great truth, accidentally revealed and experimentally confirmed, is fully recognized, that this planet, with all its appalling immensity, is to electric currents virtually no more than a small metal ball and that by virtue of this fact many possibilities, each baffling imagination and of incalculable consequence, are rendered absolutely sure of accomplishment; when the first plant is inaugurated and it is shown that a telegraphic message, almost as secret and non-interferable as a thought, can be transmitted to any terrestrial distance, the sound of the human voice, with all its intonations and inflections faithfully and instantly reproduced at any other point of the globe, the energy of a waterfall made available for supplying light, heat or motive power, anywhere...on sea, or land, or high in the air...humanity will be like an ant heap stirred up with a stick. See the excitement coming!"
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