1. Please explain Tesla's "Death Ray" machine he
spoke about in the 1930's. Was it a laser or a particle beam
Tesla's work on particle beam weapons can be traced all the way
back to 1893 with his invention of a button lamp, and again to 1896
when he replicated the work of William Roentgen, discoverer
of X-rays. At that time, Tesla was "shooting" X-rays over
considerable distances, creating photographs of skeletons sometimes
as far away as 40 feet from the source of the gun. Tesla was
also involved in experiments with shooting cathode rays at targets.
This and similar work from one of Tesla's British colleagues, J.J. Thompson, led to the discovery, by
Thompson, of the electron. During that period in the
conversed often with Thompson, particularly in the electrical
At about the year 1918, Tesla apparently had a laser-like
apparatus that he shot at the moon. From studying his great 1893
work THE INVENTIONS, RESEARCHES AND WRITINGS OF NIKOLA TESLA,
it is apparent that the button lamp discussed above had all of the
components necessary to create a laser beam.
This lamp was so constructed so as to place a piece of matter such as
carbon, or a diamond or a ruby, in the center, and bombard this
"button" with electrical energy that would bounce off the button
onto the inside of the globe and bounce back onto the button. If
this were a ruby, and Tesla specifically worked with rubies,
then is exactly how a ruby laser is created. Tesla refers in
INVENTIONS to a "pencil-thin" line of light that was created with
this device. It is my belief that
Tesla not only invented the ruby laser in 1893, but he also
demonstrated it and published it's results. The problem with the
device was that it was set up so as to "vaporize," or destroy, the
button, so that the laser effects were probably short-lived.
However, if we jump ahead to the 1918 story, which was told to me by
Coleman Czito's grandson's wife, it is very possible that Tesla
used the same or similar kind of apparatus to send laser pulses
to the moon.
Now, to get to the particle beam weapon, this is an entirely separate
invention and evolved from, all things, a pop gun that he used as a
boy. The pop gun works by pumping air into the barrel and causing
the cork to come barreling out. This gun could be used to shoot
targets and small animals, and Tesla discusses this gun in
What Tesla realized was that a "ray" would not have the energy
requirement to be destructive. Also, even if he had a laser, or
laser-like ray, it would still disperse somewhat, over long
distances. So Tesla
came to the conclusion that instead of shooting a ray of light, he
would shoot microscopic pellets. The stream could not disperse
because, theoretically, it would be one pellet thick.
After studying the
Van de Graaff electrostatic generator,
which used a cardboard belt to generate the high voltages, Tesla
came to utilize the same essential set-up to generate tremendous
charges, but he replaced the belt with an ionized stream of air and
then used this electrified stream to "repel" the small pellets which
were made out of tungsten. These pellets were shot out of an
open-ended vacuum tube which was shaped in the form of a cannon.
It is my belief that this device, which was presented to the
International Tesla Society by the late Dr. Andrija Puharich
at the 1984 Tesla Centennial Symposium (and published in that
proceedings as, essentially, Tesla's 1937 top secret patent
application), was designed to be as large as the tower at
Wardenclyffe. The shaft, which could have been as tall as
100 feet, would contain the "belt" of ionized stream of air.
round bulbous part of the tower would continue to circulate the
ionized stream and hold the charge, and out the top of the tower
there would be the long barrel of the gun. Such a machine, which Tesla tried to sell during World War II to the United States,
England, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, would be able to shoot
down incoming planes at distances of about 300 miles.
Proof that this device was given to the Soviets has been
established by such individuals as Colonel Tom Bearden, who
points out that the May 2, 1977 issue of AVIATION WEEK, displays a
picture of a Soviet particle beam weapon, (along with the
accompanying 7000 word article) that is almost a carbon copy of the
picture in Tesla's 1937 patent application, which, as stated
above has been published in the ITS 1984 proceedings.
A question remains as to whether or not
constructed a particle beam weapon. I believe that when looks at
this question from a historical standpoint, we see that he had been
working on this and similar devices for over 30 years. Thus, it is
my opinion that Tesla
did, indeed, construct a working model. At the age of 81, at a
luncheon in his honor, concerning the Death Ray, Tesla
"But it is not an
experiment.... I have built, demonstrated and used it. Only a little
time will pass before I can give it to the world."
2. Was Tesla actually killed, or did he die of natural
causes? How can we know either way for sure?
Tesla was always a very thin man, and even as far back as the
1890's, he drove himself to exhaustion on many occasions. In 1893,
speaking at the Chicago World's Fair, the dignitaries attending were
so concerned about him that he said the following:
"A number of
scientific men asked a group of electricians to deliver a lecture. A
great many promised that they would come [but] when the program was
sifted down, I was the only healthy man left, and so I have managed
to take some of my apparatus and give you a brief outline of some of
Katharine Johnson also, on many occasions, worried about
Tesla's health and refusal to eat a substantial meal.
Through the years, Tesla began to give up meat, and eventually some
time in the 1930's, he just about gave up solid foods altogether. He
drank bowls of warm milk and a combination potion made from the
hearts of numerous vegetables such as artichokes and celery. He also
By the time he was in his 80's he was cadaverously thin. The last
published photo of him when he was 86 is clear that he was close to
death. It is such a scary picture that I have refused to display it
at any of the lectures. He is much thinner in this picture than the
famous one taken just a few months before when he met with his
Sava Kosanovic, ambassador from Yugoslavia, and the exiled King Peter, of Serbia. It is my belief that
died of old age. He was 86. But I also think that he hastened his
death through his anorexic eating style.
3. Did Nikola Tesla cause the explosion in
Tunguska, Siberia in 1908?
According to Tesla's recollection in the Leland Anderson edition of
Tesla's testimony to his lawyer in 1916 (Nikola Tesla and His
Work in Alternating Currents), the tower was used in some
fashion until 1907.
However, its larger functions actually became disoperational in 1903 when the Westinghouse company came in to
remove vital equipment. Therefore Tesla did not have the
equipment to create such an explosion five years later. Further,
according to Dr. James Corum, in a recent phone interview,
(June 5, 1997), the tower had the capability of producing only about
300 kilowatts (six times what many radio stations produce) and
delivering 10 kilowatts of power to the opposite side of the earth.
This would be approximately enough energy to light a light bulb.
A tremendous feat in its own right, however, nowhere near the
amount of power required to create the
stated that the problem in transmitting the kind of tremendous power
required is that the air around the transmitter breaks down thereby
rendering the machine inoperable.
Recent estimates in the
The Day The Sky Split Apart by Roy Gallant, (1995, Simon
& Schuster), state that the Tunguska explosion created
devastation in an area which approximated the size of Rhode Island,
and released energy 2,000 times greater than the atom bomb that was
dropped at Hiroshima.
(watch video about Tunguska´s Explosion, "click"
Corum, it would be essentially impossible to transmit energy to
achieve this result.
However, Corum went
on, if Tesla had the capability to release merely 1% of the
earth's magnetic charge, that could create the amount of energy to
achieve a Tunguska-like explosion. He did not think
that Tesla did this, however.
Photos taken from the site
of the Siberian explosion reveal numerous trees flattened, much like
the trees looked after the volcanic eruption of Mt. St. Helens,
which occurred recently in Washington. I do not believe that Tesla had the technology or the inclination to use
Wardenclyffe to deliver the kind of energy necessary to
create such a disaster.
Tesla certainly discussed the idea of using
a Wardenclyffe like tower to shoot down incoming
aircraft, via a particle beam weapon, and as a completely separate
concept, he also discussed the idea of creating earthquakes, which
could be engendered in a variety of ways, e.g., by bringing
buildings down by placing oscillators on their main support beams,
or by setting off gigantic dynamite charges timed to a resonant
So where did the idea that
Tesla caused the explosion in Tunguska
originate? (His name is not mentioned in the highly credible Gallant
The answer is probably threefold:
Tesla's own writings whereby he says on May 3, 1907, in the New
York World, just one year before the Tunguska explosion, that his "magnifying transmitter" has already produced 25
million horse power, and that "a similar and much improved machine
now under construction, will make it possible to attain maximum
explosive rates of over 800 million horse power." Tesla also
states in this article and in an article the following year in Wireless Telegraphy & Telephone, 1908, pp. 67-71, that he will
be able to direct electrical energy "with great precision" to any
point of the globe
Tom Bearden's writings and through the speculations of Bearden's
statements of the late Dr. Andrija Puharich. It is Bearden's
contention that a so called "Tesla wave" disturbs the very fabric of
space-time. Therefore, it could, potentially, create an
instantaneous disaster at some distant point. Bearden has
also suggested that the Russians during the cold war, experimented
along these lines. Realistically, I would think that it would still
be highly unlikely for such a weapon to presently exist. Rather, a
large Wardenclyffe type tower might be able to disrupt the
electrical grid at some prescribed target causing a blackout, or
some similar phenomena. And even that technology is probably still
decades or generations away
is not alone in these kind of speculations. A September 14, 1973
article in Nature by A.A. Jackson and M.P. Ryan
speculates that the Tunguska event might have been
due the earth's interaction with a mini black hole.
Bearden's writings and similar theories, and also
influenced by Tesla's own assertion that a Wardenclyffe
could be used as a death ray, apparently Puharich was the first
to suggest that Tesla caused the Tunguska explosion.
At least, that is the contention of Tad Wise, author of the
recent novelized Tesla biography.
Wise told me last
year, that he was greatly intrigued by Puharich's suggestion and therefore placed it in his Tesla
book. As Wise's book is part fiction, this was completely
acceptable. However, it was taken as fact, particularly when Wise
had the same story aired on FOX TV on a show on Tesla. See also, Oliver Nichelson quoted in
The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla by D.H. Childress,
It is my belief that the explosion at Tunguska was
probably caused by a meteor or small comet. This view takes into
account the eye-witness reports by local tribesmen of a fiery object
with a long tail hitting or passing by the area in June of 1908. In
1986, Louis Frank from the University of Iowa, theorized that
the oceans that make up the planet were caused by comets that
bombard the earth over tens of millions of years. Comets are mostly
ice, and they would melt when entering the earth's atmosphere.
Although the theory was initially laughed at, according to the June
9, 1997 issue of US News & World Report,
has been able to photograph "between five and 30 comets [some as large
as a house] hitting the upper atmosphere every minute." They then
break up and eventually reach the earth as rain.
Nickolai Vasiliev, in his introduction to the
hypothesizes that the Tunguska comet, actually skipped
along the atmosphere like a rock on a lake, which created an
explosion two or three miles above ground, and that the object never
actually hit the earth. He notes that in 1989, an asteroid traveling
at 40,000 mph, missed the earth by a mere four hundred thousand
The moon is 240,000 miles from the earth. As no meteor or
comet fragment has been found at the Tunguska site, Vasiliev's theory holds merit, although it may have been an
asteroid instead of a comet.
4. I have heard that
Tesla was working on the
Philadelphia Experiment. To what extent did he participate?
As you probably know, there is a lot of controversy about the Philadelphia Experiment, and what really occurred. There
is one theory that an entire ship was made to disappear and then
reappear someplace else.
One explanation is that this was done by
dematerializing and then rematerializing the ship. A more likely
scenario is that the ship disappeared on the radar screen and then
reappeared later. This can be done in a variety of ways, by either
creating a special electrical field that is hard to detect, or by
making the skin of the ship out of some material, such as Kevlar, which is a polyurethane fiber that absorbs the
electromagnetic energy thereby preventing the radar beams from
bouncing off the hull, and thus giving the position of the ship
away. The stealth bomber has a skin made up of a compound that
absorbs radar beams.
Tesla's link to the
is often tied to his supposed association with Albert Einstein.
I have completed an exhaustive study of Tesla's relationship
to Albert Einstein and found out that there is no
correspondence between them other than the famous letter Einstein
sent to Tesla on Tesla's 75th birthday. There are no letters in
either the Tesla Museum in Belgrade or the Einstein archives which
are in Israel at the University of Jerusalem.
Tesla has been linked to
Einstein because of a famous
photo which was taken on April 23, 1921 in New Brunswick, New Jersey
in celebration of a new RCA transatlantic broadcasting station that
was being put in operation. Present at the event were scientists and
corporate heads from RCA, GE and AT&T including Charles Steinmetz,
Irving Langmuir, David Sarnoff and Albert Einstein. Standing in
between Steinmetz and Einstein was a man who resembled Nikola
Tesla. I, myself, thought it was Tesla, and wrote an
article which included this assumption for the 1986 ITS Symposium.
Margaret Cheney and also R.G. Williams in their
respective biographies also did the same thing.
After conferring with
Leland Anderson and searching back to
original sources which included the an article in the New York
Herald, and the original caption for the photo, it has been
determined that the man standing between Einsten and Steinmetz was one
John Carson, who was an engineer
for AT&T. This photo has also been doctored to air-brush out all
individuals except for Einstein and Steinmetz by the GE people who
use it to imply a special relationship between Steinmetz and
The real reason why Einstein wrote Tesla was because of
Swezey, who was helping care for Tesla in the 1920's,
30's and early 40's, and who was writing a series of articles on the
great inventor. Swezey had befriended Einsten in the
early 1920's after writing a treatise on relativity, and Einsten
essentially wrote the letter as a favor to Swezey. Please also see
my recent article Taking on Einstein in the Jan/Feb/March
issue of Extraordinary Science.
So Tesla never really had a personal relationship with
Einstein, nor is it likely that he worked on the Philadelphia Experiment. Tesla, however, did work on radar inventions about 1903 and
later around the time of WWI, which were outcroppings from his work
5. Did Tesla ever marry or have a serious relationship which
may have precluded marriage?
In the mid 1920's, Tesla told
Dragislav Petkovich, a
Serbian reporter for Politika (Beograd, April 27, 1927), that he had
never touched a woman, but that he had also fallen in love once in
his life while he was student. The girl's name was apparently Anna,
and Tesla probably met her in Gospic on one of his trips back to his
home town. Tesla kept in touch with Anna, and she eventually had a son who
Tesla looked after when he came to New York City at the turn of the
century. Unfortunately, this boy was interested in boxing, and died
in his first boxing match.
Later, of course, Tesla was captivated by a number of women
such as playwright and musical composer Marguerite Merrington (who never married) and also Robert Johnson's wife Katharine. Tesla
essentially took a vow of celibacy because he had devoted himself to
science and felt that he would not have the time to pursue his
interests if he had a wife and family to care for. Tesla was
also friendly with many other women, many of whom were married to
wealthy financiers. These included
Anne Morgan (who never married), daughter of J. Pierpont
Ava Astor, wife of John Jacob Astor, and Mrs.
Corine Robinson, who was
Teddy Roosevelt's sister.
Tesla's sexuality, however, has always remained a mystery.
Cheney suggests in her biography that Tesla may have been
a homosexual, and this is repeated in Paul Baker's book on
Stanford White. I have discovered no evidence to support this
theory. I believe, essentially, that Tesla was more
interested in inventing than in complicated heterosexual liaisons.
Later in life he showered his affection on the city pigeons, and
clearly transferred some of his romantic inclinations onto one
particular white pigeon with brown tipped wings, which he told John O'Neill that he loved like a man would love a women.
Tesla was also influenced by such Buddhists as Swami
Vivekananda, and thus believed that if he could transform his
sexual energy through celibacy, he would raise his brain output to a
higher level. A strong proponent of self-denial, and, essentially a
spiritual man, it is likely that much of his passion was simply
redirected into his work.
6. How did Tesla handle adverse situations like
losing his financing for the Wardenclyffe project.
As discussed in my article on Wardenclyffe in the last
Extraordinary Science, (April/May/June 1996), Tesla lost
his financing for Wardenclyffe because he ran out of money, in part,
because he decided to build a larger tower than was contracted for
with J.Pierpont Morgan. Tesla's first major falling out with Morgan
occurred in August of 1901, shortly after Morgan's return from
Europe, and this was during the Wall Street Panic of 1901.
months later, Marconi sent the first ever recorded transatlantic message, and
was thereby perceived as the new king of wireless. Tesla tried to
interest such financiers as Thomas Fortune Ryan (corporate
head), Jacob Schiff
(stock broker), Henry Clay Frick (Andrew Carnegie's former
Col. Oliver Payne (John D. Rockefeller's partner), in helping
put in the additional funding, but Morgan blocked all efforts.
Morgan feared that a new wireless system of power distribution
might threaten such companies that he had control over as General
Electric or AT & T.
After the last possible deal was squashed by
Morgan in 1906, I
have hypothesized that Tesla suffered an emotional collapse.
For about 6 months, Tesla was incapacitated, but in 1907-08 he began
to form a new plan to resurrect the ailing world telegraphy
He would invent a highly efficient
to replace the gasoline engine in the automobile. Profits, if
realized, would have been in the neighborhood of a hundred million
dollars. Thus began Tesla's work on the bladeless turbine and also
the reverse of this invention which was a bladeless pump.
As with any new invention, it takes many years of hard work to perfect
it. For instance, Tesla invented his AC polyphase
system in 1883, but it was not successfully demonstrated on
any large scale until 1891 when C.E.L. Brown and Michael
Dobrolowsky used it to transmit energy over 100 miles from
Lauffen to Frankfurt Germany. Two years later it was displayed at
the Chicago World's Fair, and two years after that it was put in at
So it took at least 10 years to get it to the point
where it could truly be ready for market. (A modern example of a
long delay would be the Concorde plane which flies at Mach II. This
plane was designed in the mid-1950's but did not get off the ground
for nearly a quarter of a century.)
Tesla worked on various forms of his bladeless turbine from
about 1910-1913 with John Hayes Hammond Jr. at Thomas
Edison's Warterside station in New York.
As World War I began,
Tesla was sidetracked from this endeavor in part because of legal
disputes with Marconi over the invention of the wireless, and
in part because he was helping Telefunken, the German concern,
perfect their wireless transmitters which were put in at Tuckertown
New Jersey and Sayville, Long Island, New York. In 1917, after
Wardenclyffe was destroyed, Tesla moved to Chicago to work
for Pyle National to again work on the turbine, and then on to
Milwaukee from 1919-1922 for Allis Chalmers, and finally to
Philadelphia, from 1925-1926 where he worked for Budd National.
Thus, it is clear that Tesla put in 18 years of intense effort
to perfect the bladeless turbine as he negotiated with Japan and
Germany before WWI to place the turbines in torpedoes and tanks, and
then later with ship building and airplane companies and also Ford
and General Motors. The turbine, however, never reached the state of
perfection that was required for them to scrap their existing
engines and replace them with his. Thus, he never received large
amounts of compensation for the engine, although he did recoup in
the neighborhood of $50,000 from Pyle National, Allis Chalmers and
Budd National for work completed.
Tesla's goal was initially to resurrect Wardenclyffe by paying
off his debts, and then to build a new, and more efficient Wardenclyffe in the 1920's or 1930's, but he never received
the great funds necessary.
Interestingly enough, Tesla did
complete Wardenclyffe in fancy drawings and on paper through his
many writings for Hugo Gernsback in his magazine Electrical Experimenter. Thus, one could say that
coped with the loss of Wardenclyffe but continuing to produce new
inventions and by devoting his life to realize the dream.
Unfortunately, he ultimately never succeeded in making operational
any world telegraphy center.