Chapter 4 - Tesla
Coil and Transformer
When natural inclination develops into a
passionate desire, one advances towards his goal in seven-league
boots. In less than two months I evolved virtually all the types of
motors and modifications of the system which are now identified with
my name, and which are used under many other names all over the
world. It was, perhaps, providential that the necessities of
existence commanded a temporary halt to this consuming activity of
I made several improvements in the
Central Station apparatus and perfected a telephone repeater or
amplifier which was never patented or publicly described but would
be creditable to me even today. In recognition of my efficient
assistance the organizer of the undertaking, Mr. Puskas, upon
disposing of his business in Budapest, offered me a position in
Paris which I gladly accepted.
There I would have a wood-chopperís
breakfast at half-past seven oíclock and then eagerly await the
lunch hour, in the meanwhile cracking hard nuts for the Manager of
the Works, Mr. Charles Bachelor, who was an intimate friend and
assistant of Edison. Here I was thrown in contact with a few
Americans who fairly fell in love with my because of my proficiency
in Billiards! To these men I explained my invention and one of them,
Mr. D. Cunningham, foreman of the Mechanical Department, offered to
form a stock company. The proposal seemed to me comical in the
extreme. I did not have the faintest conception of what he meant,
except that it was an American way of doing things. Nothing came of
it, however, and during the next few months I had to travel from one
place to another in France and Germany to cure the ills of the power
The wiring was defective and on the
occasion of the opening ceremonies, a large part of a wall was blown
out through a short-circuit, right in the presence of old Emperor
William I. The German Government refused to take the plant and the
French Company was facing a serious loss. On account of my knowledge
of the German language and past experience, I was entrusted with the
difficult task of straightening out matters and early in 1883, I
went to Strasbourg on that mission.
The consummation of the experiment was, however, delayed until the summer of that year, when I finally had the satisfaction of seeing the rotation effected by alternating currents of different phase, and without sliding contacts or commutator, as I had conceived a year before. It was an exquisite pleasure but not to compare with the delirium of joy following the first revelation. Among my new friends was the former Mayor of the city, Mr. Sauzin, whom I had already, in a measure, acquainted with this and other inventions of mine and whose support I endeavoured to enlist. He was sincerely devoted to me and put my project before several wealthy persons, but to my mortification, found no response. He wanted to help me in every possible way and the approach of the first of July, 1917, happens to remind me of a form of "assistance" I received from that charming man, which was not financial, but none the less appreciated.
In 1870, when the Germans invaded the
country, Mr. Sauzin had buried a good sized allotment of St. Estephe
of 1801 and he came to the conclusion that he knew no worthier
person than myself, to consume that precious beverage. This, I may
say, is one of the unforgettable incidents to which I have referred.
My friend urged me to return to Paris as soon as possible and seek
support there. This I was anxious to do, but my work and
negotiations were protracted, owing to all sorts of petty obstacles
I encountered, so that at times the situation seemed hopeless. Just
to give an idea of German thoroughness and "efficiency," I may
mention here a rather funny experience.
Then the engineer became worried and told me that Inspector Averdeck should be notified. That important person was called, he investigated, debated, and decided that the lamp should be shifted back two inches, which was the placed I had marked! It was not long, however, before Averdeck got cold feet himself and advised me that he had informed Ober-Inspector Hieronimus of the matter and that I should await his decision. It was several days before the Ober-Inspector was able to free himself of other pressing duties, but at last he arrived and a two hour debate followed, when he decided to move the lamp two inches further. My hopes that this was the final act, were shattered when the Ober-Inspector returned and said to me,
Accordingly, arrangements for a visit
from that great man were made. We started cleaning up and polishing
early in the morning, and when Funke came with his retinue he was
ceremoniously received. After two hours of deliberation, he suddenly
exclaimed, "I must be going!," and pointing to a place on the
ceiling, he ordered me to put the lamp there. It was the exact spot
which I had originally chosen! So it went day after day with
variations, but I was determined to achieve, at whatever cost, and
in the end my efforts were rewarded.
When I called on A, he told me that B had the say. This gentleman thought that only C could decide, and the latter was quite sure that A alone had the power to act. After several laps of this circulus viciousus, it dawned upon me that my reward was a castle in Spain. The utter failure of my attempts to raise capital for development was another disappointment, and when Mr. Bachelor pressed me to go to America with a view of redesigning the Edison machines, I determined to try my fortunes in the Land of Golden Promise.
But the chance was nearly missed. I liquefied my modest assets, secured accommodations and found myself at the railroad station as the train was pulling out. At that moment, I discovered that my money and tickets were gone. What to do was the question. Hercules had plenty of time to deliberate, but I had to decide while running alongside the train with opposite feeling surging in my brain like condenser oscillations. Resolve, helped by dexterity, won out in the nick of time and upon passing through the usual experience, as trivial and unpleasant, I managed to embark for New York with the remnants of my belongings, some poems and articles I had written, and a package of calculations relating to solutions of an unsolvable integral and my flying machine.
During the voyage I sat most of the time
at the stern of the ship watching for an opportunity to save
somebody from a watery grave, without the slightest thought of
danger. Later, when I had absorbed some of the practical American
sense, I shivered at the recollection and marveled at my former
folly. The meeting with Edison was a memorable event in my life. I
was amazed at this wonderful man who, without early advantages and
scientific training, had accomplished so much. I had studied a dozen
languages, delved in literature and art, and had spent my best years
in libraries reading all sorts of stuff that fell into my hands,
from Newtonís "Principia" to the novels of Paul de Kock, and felt
that most of my life had been squandered. But it did not take long
before I recognized that it was the best thing I could have done.
Within a few weeks I had won Edisonís confidence, and it came about
in this way.
The dynamos were in bad condition, having several short-circuits and breaks, but with the assistance of the crew, I succeeded in putting them in good shape. At five oíclock in the morning, when passing along Fifth Avenue on my way to the shop, I met Edison with Bachelor and a few others, as they were returning home to retire. "Here is our Parisian running around at night," he said. When I told him that I was coming from the Oregon and had repaired both machines, he looked at me in silence and walked away without another word. But when he had gone some distance I heard him remark, "Bachelor, this is a good man." And from that time on I had full freedom in directing the work. For nearly a year my regular hours were from 10:30 A.M. until 5 oíclock the next morning without a dayís exception.
Edison said to me, "I have had many hard
working assistants, but you take the cake." During this period I
designed twenty-four different types of standard machines with short
cores and uniform pattern, which replaced the old ones. The Manager
had promised me fifty thousand dollars on the completion of this
task, but it turned out to be a practical joke. This gave me a
painful shock and I resigned my position.
In 1886 my system of arc lighting was perfected and adopted for
factory and municipal lighting, and I was free, but with no other
possession than a beautifully engraved certificate of stock of
hypothetical value. Then followed a period of struggle in the new
medium for which I was not fitted, but the reward came in the end,
and in April, 1887, the TESLA Electric Co. was organized, providing
a laboratory and facilities. The motors I built there were exactly
as I had imagined them. I made no attempt to improve the design, but
merely reproduced the pictures as they appeared to my vision and the
operation was always as I expected.
The problems of construction in this
unexplored field were novel and quite peculiar, and I encountered
many difficulties. I rejected the inductor type, fearing that it
might not yield perfect sine waves, which were so important to
resonant action. Had it not been for this, I could have saved myself
a great deal of labour. Another discouraging feature of the
high-frequency alternator seemed to be the inconstancy of speed
which threatened to impose serious limitations to its use. I had
already noted in my demonstrations before the American Institution
of Electrical Engineers, that several times the tune was lost,
necessitating readjustment, and did not yet foresee what I
discovered long afterwards, a means of operating a machine of this
kind at a speed constant to such a degree as not to vary more than a
small fraction of one revolution between the extremes of load. From
many other considerations, it appeared desirable to invent a simpler
device for the production of electric oscillations.
We may drop a weight from a certain height vertically down, or carry it to the lower level along any devious path; it is immaterial insofar as the amount of work is concerned. Fortunately however, this drawback is not fatal, as by proper proportioning of the resonant, circuits of an efficiency of 85 percent is attainable. Since my early announcement of the invention, it has come into universal use and wrought a revolution in many departments, but a still greater future awaits it.
1900 I obtained powerful discharges of 1,000 feet and flashed a
current around the globe, I was reminded of the first tiny spark I
observed in my Grand Street laboratory and was thrilled by
sensations akin to those I felt when I discovered the rotating
My alternating system of power transmission came at a psychological moment, as a long sought answer to pressing industrial questions, and although considerable resistance had to be overcome and opposing interests reconciled, as usual, the commercial introduction could not be long delayed. Now, compare this situation with that confronting my turbines, for example. One should think that so simple and beautiful an invention, possessing many features of an ideal motor, should be adopted at once and, undoubtedly, it would under similar conditions. But the prospective effect of the rotating field was not to render worthless existing machinery; on the contrary, it was to give it additional value.
The system lent itself to new enterprise
as well as to improvement of the old. My turbine is an advance of a
character entirely different. It is a radical departure in the sense
that its success would mean the abandonment of the antiquated types
of prime movers on which billions of dollars have been spent. Under
such circumstances, the progress must needs be slow and perhaps the
greatest impediment is encountered in the prejudicial opinions
created in the minds of experts by organized opposition.
These and other inventions of mine, however, were nothing more than
steps forward in a certain directions. In evolving them, I simply
followed the inborn instinct to improve the present devices without
any special thought of our far more imperative necessities. The
"Magnifying Transmitter" was the product of labours extending
through years, having for their chief object, the solution of
problems which are infinitely more important to mankind than mere
We crave for new sensations, but soon
become indifferent to them. The wonders of yesterday are today
common occurrences. When my tubes were first publicly exhibited,
they were viewed with amazement impossible to describe. From all
parts of the world, I received urgent invitations and numerous
honors and other flattering inducements were offered to me, which I
declined. But in 1892 the demand became irresistible and I went to
London where I delivered a lecture before the institution of
The next evening I have a demonstration before the Royal Institution, at the termination of which, Lord Rayleigh addressed the audience and his generous words gave me the first start in these endeavors. I fled from London and later from Paris, to escape favors showered upon me, and journeyed to my home, where I passed through a most painful ordeal and illness. Upon regaining my health, I began to formulate plans for the resumption of work in America. Up to that time I never realized that I possessed any particular gift of discovery, but Lord Rayleigh, whom I always considered as an ideal man of science, had said so and if that was the case, I felt that I should concentrate on some big idea.
At this time, as at many other times in
the past, my thoughts turned towards my Motherís teaching. The gift
of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate
our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. My
Mother had taught me to seek all truth in the Bible; therefore I
devoted the next few months to the study of this work.
Here was a stupendous possibility of
achievement. If we could produce electric effects of the required
quality, this whole planet and the conditions of existence on it
could be transformed. The sun raises the water of the oceans and
winds drive it to distant regions where it remains in a state of
most delicate balance. If it were in our power to upset it when and
wherever desired, this might life sustaining stream could be at will
controlled. We could irrigate arid deserts, create lakes and rivers,
and provide motive power in unlimited amounts. This would be the
most efficient way of harnessing the sun to the uses of man. The
consummation depended on our ability to develop electric forces of
the order of those in nature.
The first gratifying result was obtained
in the spring of the succeeding year, when I reaching a tension of
about 100,000,000 volts - one hundred million volts -- with my conical
coil, which I figured was the voltage of a flash of lightening.
Steady progress was made until the destruction of my laboratory by
fire, in 1895, as may be judged from an article by T.C. Martin which
appeared in the April number of the Century Magazine. This calamity
set me back in many ways and most of that year had to be devoted to
planning and reconstruction. However, as soon as circumstances
permitted, I returned to the task.
Profiting from this observation, I
resorted to the use of a high tension conductor with turns of
considerable diameter, sufficiently separated to keep down the
distributed capacity, while at the same time preventing undue
accumulation of the charge at any point. The application of this
principle enabled me to produce pressures of over 100,000,000 volts,
which was about the limit obtainable without risk of accident. A
photograph of my transmitter built in my laboratory at Houston
Street, was published in the Electrical Review of November, 1898.
The maximum electric tension is merely dependent on the curvature of the surfaces on which the charged elements are situated and the area of the latter. Judging from my past experience there is no limit to the possible voltage developed; any amount is practicable. On the other hand, currents of many thousands of amperes may be obtained in the antenna. A plant of but very moderate dimensions is required for such performances. Theoretically, a terminal of less than 90 feet in diameter is sufficient to develop an electromotive force of that magnitude, while for antenna currents of from 2,000-4,000 amperes at the usual frequencies, it need not be larger than 30 feet in diameter.
In a more restricted meaning, this wireless transmitter is one in which the Hertzwave radiation is an entirely negligible quantity as compared with the whole energy, under which condition the damping factor is extremely small and an enormous charge is stored in the elevated capacity. Such a circuit may then be excited with impulses of any kind, even of low frequency and it will yield sinusoidal and continuous oscillations like those of an alternator. Taken in the narrowest significance of the term, however, it is a resonant transformer which, besides possessing these qualities, is accurately proportioned to fit the globe and its electrical constants and properties, by virtue of which design it becomes highly efficient and effective in the wireless transmission of energy.
Distance is then absolutely eliminated,
there being no diminution in the intensity of the transmitted
impulses. It is even possible to make the actions increase with the
distance from the plane, according to an exact mathematical law.
This invention was one of a number comprised in my "World System" of
wireless transmission which I undertook to commercialize on my
return to New York in 1900.
These examples are cited merely to give an idea of the possibilities of this great scientific advance, which annihilates distance and makes that perfect natural conductor, the Earth, available for all the innumerable purposes which human ingenuity has found for a line-wire. One far-reaching result of this is that any device capable of being operated through one or more wires (at a distance obviously restricted) can likewise be actuated, without artificial conductors and with the same facility and accuracy, at distances to which there are no limits other than those imposed by the physical dimensions of the earth. Thus, not only will entirely new fields for commercial exploitation be opened up by this ideal method of transmission, but the old ones vastly extended. The World System is based on the application of the following import and inventions and discoveries:
Among these are the following:
I also proposed to make demonstration in the wireless transmission of power on a small scale, but sufficient to carry conviction. Besides these, I referred to other and incomparably more important applications of my discoveries which will be disclosed at some future date. A plant was built on Long Island with a tower 187 feet high, having a spherical terminal about 68 feet in diameter. These dimensions were adequate for the transmission of virtually any amount of energy. Originally, only from 200 to 300 K.W. were provided, but I intended to employ later several thousand horsepower.
The transmitter was to emit a wave-complex of special characteristics and I had devised a unique method of telephonic control of any amount of energy. The tower was destroyed two years ago (1917) but my projects are being developed and another one, improved in some features will be constructed.
On the contrary, it was in the interest
of the Government to preserver it, particularly as it would have
made possible, to mention just one valuable result, the location of
a submarine in any part of the world. My plant, services, and all my
improvements have always been at the disposal of the officials and
ever since the outbreak of the European conflict, I have been
working at a sacrifice on several inventions of mine relating to
aerial navigation, ship propulsion and wireless transmission, which
are of the greatest importance to the country. Those who are well
informed know that my ideas have revolutionized the industries of
the United States and I am not aware that there lives an inventor
who has been, in this respect, as fortunate as myself, - especially as
regards the use of his improvements in the war.
He had the highest regard for my attainments and gave me every evidence of his complete faith in my ability to ultimately achieve what I had set out to do. I am unwilling to accord to some small-minded and jealous individuals the satisfaction of having thwarted my efforts. These men are to me nothing more than microbes of a nasty disease. My project was retarded by laws of nature.
The world was not prepared for it.
was too far ahead of time, but the same laws will prevail in the end
and make it a triumphal success.
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
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
sunís 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.
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!
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.
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 bearís 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.
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.
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.
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 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 Alexanderís 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.
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.
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?
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,
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 motherís 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 instantís delay and with
all the power and resources of the nation.