from "Lost Science" by Gerry
The drama of Twentieth Century Science and its intriguing
relationship with financiers and governments unfold together in the
remarkable life of Nikola Tesla.
His is a biography replete with all
the elements of tragedy. Tesla, a great discoverer of unsurpassed
force, became the focal point of old insidious forces intent on
destroying the future for the selfish sake of the status quo.
remains a focal point of wonderment, of dream, and of worlds, which
yet should be to those who are familiar with his biography. For
them, Tesla stands astride the quaint past century and the gleaming
future. He is a technological Colossus, pointing the way to a new
The biography of Nikola Tesla should be the very first chapter in
every child's science text. Yet, we find his name stricken from the
record in every avenue of which he alone holds priority. This
conspicuous absence prompts wonderment. What the world does with
discoverers determines the world course. In the life of Nikola Tesla
we see the portrayal of our own future, the fate of the world.
achievements of this researcher were lofty. The world has not yet
implemented his greatest works.
For a time, all the world's dramatis
personae focused on Tesla. He remains the legend, the theme, the
archetype of all Twentieth Century scientists.
But who was Nikola Tesla, and where was he from?
How did he reach
such a mighty stature, and what did he actually invent?
born in 1856, the son of an illustrious Serbian family.
an Orthodox priest, his uncles noteworthy military heroes of highest
rank. He was educated in Graz, and later moved to Budapest.
Throughout his life he was blessed, or haunted, by vivid visions. In
the terminology of Reichenbach he would be termed an extreme
sensitive. It was through these remarkable visions that Nikola Tesla
invented devices, which the Victorian world had never seen. Indeed,
his visionary experiences produced the modern world, as we know it.
He attended various Universities in Eastern Europe during his early
adulthood. While delving into his studies, he became aware by the
new and insidious scientific trends, which questioned the validity
of human sense and reason.
An impassioned soul, Tesla felt the pain
of modern humanity in its intellectual search for a soul. Finding
no solace in any of his classes, he sought refuge in a more romantic
treatment of science and nature. None could be found. Professors
dutifully promoted the "new view" by which it was declared that the
natural world was "inert ... dead ... a mere collection of forces".
This quantitative regime was mounting force among academes, who were
then attempting the total conversion of scientific method. Those who
would not accept the new order were compelled to depart from
academic pursuits. Tesla totally rejected these notions on the
strongest of inner intuitions. Most of his instructors would have
said that he was not University material.
Tesla, sensitive to every
such dogmatic wind, rejected their thesis and sought some better
means for knowing nature. If he was to excel in engineering, there
could only be cooperation with natural force, never violence. It was
clear to him that the new scientific world-attack would ultimately
lead to violent responses from nature itself.
His inner conflict expressed itself openly and candidly, bringing
young Tesla into certain disrepute among rigid University
authorities. Universities were more like military academies than
places where original thinking was conducted in open forum. Tesla
challenged too many persons of esteemed rank with probing questions
for which he was given rebuke but no real answers.
A gifted researcher and voracious reader, he chanced upon some
forgotten volumes of natural science written by Goethe. He had not
been aware that Goethe, long before he chose poetry for the vehicle
of his scientific themes, had written several magnificent tomes on
the natural world. Tesla found to his wonder that Goethe had
experienced the very same emotions. When the new scientific dogma
was just in its infancy, Goethe caught wind of it and reacted
violently, even as one who stands watch in the night.
Goethe was well aware of the new scientific trend and its
implications. The reduction of nature to forces and mechanisms was
utterly revolting to Goethe. Now, Tesla found a notable compatriot
in his experience. He secured a thorough collection of Goethe's
scientific texts and read these to the exclusion of all other
philosophies. It was through this window that we may comprehend all
of Tesla's scientific methods and later statements.
For in Tesla we
see the quest for communion with nature, one based on the faith that
mind, sensation, consciousness, and ordained structure form the
world-foundations. The sense-validating Qualitative Theme again
appears in Nikola Tesla. Armed with this foundation, he was able to
filter and qualify every other new study with which he was
In addition, he was irresistibly drawn into the study of
electricity, the "new magick". In the following months, he absorbed
the electrical engineering courses so rapidly that he no longer
He had taken a technical position in Budapest.
Several new intuitions had seized him. Tesla became fascinated,
obsessed with alternating current electricity. The problem he faced
was considered insurmountable. Tesla was sure that he could devise
an engine, which was turned, not by contact-currents, but by
magnetic field actions alone.
The struggle toward designing such a device, begun as a puzzling
amusement, was now completely consuming his strength. The answer,
tantalizing and near, seemed elusive. Under-girding all these
efforts was the strongest desire to achieve something original, and
by this, to attain financial independence for the sake of pure
research. His only dream was to have a laboratory facility of his
The excessive labors and mental exertions nearly drove him to the
brink of madness. He was, for as time, seized with strange maladies
and sensitivities which physicians could not address. Reichenbach
accurately describes these symptoms, characteristic of extreme
sensitives. There come times when the neurological sensitivity of
these individuals literally transforms and processes through their
The emergence of these rare sensitivities affects such
persons for the remainder of their lives. Tesla found that his
senses were amplified beyond reason. He was terribly frightened at
first, nervous exhaustion permeating his frail being.
learning to manage these rare faculties, he again resumed his life.
But the visions, which began in his youth, were now more vivid and
solid than ever before. When they came, unbidden, he could literally
touch and walk around them. Now also, he was equal to receiving
He was waiting for the revelation by which his alternating
current motor would appear.
Tesla's life came into a new focus while walking in a park with some
friends, the year 1881. It was late afternoon, and Tesla became
entranced with the sight of a glorious sunset.
Moved to indescribable emotions, he began quoting a verse from
"The glow retreats, done is our day of toil; it yonder hastes, new
fields of life exploring, ah, can no wing lift me from this soil...
upon his track to follow, follow soaring?"
As he reached this last line of verse, Tesla was suddenly seized by
an overwhelming vision. In it, he beheld a great vortex, whirling
eternally in the sun and driving across the earth with its infinite
power. Completely absorbed in this glory, he became catatonic and
irresponsive... to the great fear of his companions.
His mind and
body buzzing with the power of the vision, he suddenly blurted out,
"see my motor here... watch me reverse it".
They shook him,
believing he had lost his mind completely.
Rigid and resisting all of their efforts, he would not move until
the vision subsided. When he was finally led to a bench, he seemed
completely transformed. The remainder of the day was spent in a
grand and joyous celebration, Tesla's remaining funds supplying the
feast. Throughout the long hours of that night he shared with his
friends the great sight he had beheld. They spoke of the sure
implications portended for the world's future, and departed with
very great expectations.
Moving to Strasburg, he was employed as an engineer in a telephone
subsidiary of the Continental Edison Company. It was in a small
machine shop that he constructed the world's first brush less
He called them "magnetic vortex motors". Their whirling
magnetic fields baffled electrical engineers. Now, Tesla's
professors were studying his work. Goethe was absolute in his
judgment of science and human nature: nature leads humanity to
"follow, follow soaring".
Tesla's strange whirling devices worked on their very first trial.
There were no connections between the rotors and stators, no
sparking, lousy brushes. The motion was smooth and efficient.
Numerous alternating current generators, transformers, and "brush
less" motors, all were developed by Tesla in quick succession. The
vision in material form. Himself a professional draftsman, he
mapped out his entire Polyphase System.
Tesla immigrated to America
with a full portfolio of plans. America would be the place where his
dreams would find fulfillment.
Continually attracted to engineering problems which none could
master, his sudden visualization of the solutions became his normal
mode of operation. In this respect, as well as others, he remained
the wonder of all his technical assistants. He worked for Thomas
Edison in New Jersey for a very short time period until securing a
laboratory and financial supporters of his own.
In his first independent venture he developed arc lamps and lighting
systems. When his financial supporters betrayed his trust, they left
him bankrupt overnight. He became a ditch digger, suffering all the
indignities, which immigrants faced in America during the 1880's.
He learned the value of publicity after his incessant mention of
polyphase and alternating current managed to attract the attention
of certain new financial supporters.
They drew him out of the ditch,
but not before he demanded his own laboratory, a machine shop, and a
sizable personal percentage "up front".
The result was our present
day electrical distribution system.
Tesla did not invent alternating current. Tesla reinvented
alternating current in the form of Polyphase Current. His
System was a novel means for blending three identical alternating
currents together simultaneously, but "out of step".
The idea was
similar to having three pistons on a crankshaft rather than one.
Tesla's method had wonderful advantages, especially when motors
were to be operated. Formally, no one could make an alternating
current motor turn at all simply because no net motion could be
derived from a current which just "shuttled" to and fro.
Polyphase applied a continuous series of separate "pushes" to
rotors. Tesla's Polyphase System made brushless motors and brilliant
lighting methods possible. Polyphase made it also possible to send
electrical power to very great distances with little loss.
Alternating electrical currents vibrated in the line. Current did
not flow continuously from end to end, as in Edison's flawed system.
Edison's direct current system could not supply electricity beyond a
few city blocks before current virtually disappeared.
In efforts to discover a more efficient kind of Polyphase, Tesla
explored higher frequency alternating currents. During this
research, he built and patented several remarkable generators.
Higher frequency Polyphase was found by Tesla to perform with far
greater efficacy than the common sixty-cycle variety, which we still
He fully intended on implementing these special generators in
the system, which his patron and friend, George Westinghouse, had
proliferated. The business arrangement rendered Tesla fabulously
wealthy at a young age.
Tesla extended his generator frequencies in multiples of sixty until
reaching some thirty thousand cycles per second. These very high
frequency alternating current generators became the marvel of all
the academic and engineering world. They were copied and modified
by several other subsequent inventors including Alexanderson.
Remarkably driven at excessive speeds, they constituted Tesla's
first belief that high frequency alternating current generators
would supply the world's power.
High frequency current phenomena were new and exceedingly curious. A
line of experimental research was conducted in order to evaluate new
safe and possibly more efficient ways for transmitting power along
long elevated lines. Tesla stated that the transmission of such safe
currents across very long power line distances in the future would
be a certainty, seeing their wonderful new qualities.
Tesla found that high frequency currents were harmless when
contacted by the human body. Discharges from these generators
traversed the outer surface of materials, never penetrating matter
with depth. There was no danger when working with high frequency
currents. He also observed their very curious and beautiful spark
They hissed and fizzled all over wire conductors, could
stimulate luminescence in low pressure gas bulbs, seemed to traverse insulative barriers with ease, and made little pinwheels spin like
delicate little fireworks displays.
Though curious, the effects were weak and furtive. They seemed to
intimate some future technology which he was yet unable to
penetrate. Tesla learned that his intuitions and visions were
infallible. What he guessed usually proved true. This very personal
revelation, he later claimed, was his greatest discovery.
As the safety of all personnel was his main concern, he was consumed
with the idea of making his High Frequency Polyphase System
completely safe for human operators and consumers alike. An
extensive examination of each System component was undertaken with
this aim in mind. Tesla was thorough and relentless in his quest for
safety and efficiency.
But, his involvement with alternating currents would come to an
abrupt and unexpected end.
During a series of experiments which
followed these high frequency tests, an amazing seldom-mentioned
accident occurred in which Tesla observed a phenomenon which forever
altered his view of electricity and technology.
Tesla was an avid and professional experimenter throughout his life.
His curiosity was of such an intense nature that he was able to
plumb the mysteries of an electrical peculiarity with no regard for
his own comfort. Whereas Edison would work and sleep for a few hours
on the floor, Tesla would never sleep until he had achieved success
in an experimental venture. This marathon could last for days. He
was once observed to work through a seventy-two hour period without
fatigue. His technicians were in awe of him.
The Victorian Era was flooding over with new electrical discoveries
by the day. Keeping up with the sheer volume of strange electrical
discoveries and curiosities was a task, which Tesla thoroughly
enjoyed ... and preferred.
His Polyphase System in perfect working
order, the pleasurable occupation of studying new gazettes and
scientific journals often fascinated his mind to the exclusion of
all other responsibilities. A millionaire and world-heralded genius
before the age of thirty, Tesla sought the pure kind of research he
had so long craved.
Whenever he observed any intriguing electrical effect he immediately
launched into experimental study with a hundred variations. Each
study brought him such a wealth of new knowledge that, based on
phenomena which he observed, he was immediately able to formulate
new inventions and acquire new patents.
Tesla's New York laboratories had several sections. This complex was
arranged as a multi-level gallery, providing a complete research and
production facility. Tesla fabricated several of his large
transformers and generators in the lower floors, where the machine
shops of this building were housed. The upper floors contained his
private research laboratories. He had attracted a loyal staff of
Of all these, Kolman Czito was a trusted friend who
would stand by Tesla for the remainder of his life. Czito was the
machine shop foreman in each of Tesla's New York laboratories.
Tesla observed that instantaneous applications of either direct or
alternating current to lines often caused explosive effects. While
these had obvious practical applications in improvement and safety,
Tesla was seized by certain peculiar aspects of the phenomenon. He
had observed these powerful blasts when knife-switches were quickly
closed and opened in his Polyphase System. Switch terminals were
often blasted to pieces when the speed of the switchman matched the
Tesla assessed the situation very accurately. Suddenly applied
currents will stress conductors both electrically and mechanically.
When the speed of the switch-action is brief enough, and the power
reaches a sufficiently high crescendo, the effects are not unlike a
miniature lightning stroke. Electricity initially heats the wire,
bringing it to vapor point. The continual application of current
then blasts the wire apart by electrostatic repulsion.
But was this
mechanistic explanation responsible for every part of the
The most refractory metals were said to be vaporized by such
electrical blasts. Others had used this phenomenon to generate tiny
granular diamonds. Yes, there were other aspects about this violent
impulse phenomenon, which tantalized him. Sufficiently intrigued, he
developed a small lightning "generator" consisting of a high
voltage dynamo and small capacitor storage bank. His idea was to
blast sections of wire with lightning-like currents. He wanted to
observe the mechanically explosive effects, which wires sustain
under sudden high-powered electrifications.
Instantaneous applications of high current and high voltage could
literally convert thin wires into vapor. Charged to high direct
current potentials, his capacitors were allowed to discharge across
a section of thin wire. Tesla configured his test apparatus to
eliminate all possible current alternations.
The application of a
single switch contact would here produce a single, explosive
a direct current impulse resembling lightning.
first Tesla hand-operated the system, manually snapping a heavy
knife switch on and off. This became less favorable as the dynamo
voltages were deliberately increased.
He quickly closed the large knife switch held in his gloved hand.
Bang! The wire exploded.
But as it did so, Tesla was stung by a
pressure blast of needle-like penetrations. Closing the dynamo down,
he rubbed his face, neck, arms, chest, and hands. The irritation was
distinct. He thought while the dynamo whirred down to a slow spin.
The blast was powerful. He must have been sprayed by hot metal
droplets as small as smoke particles. Though he examined his person,
he fortunately found no wounds. No evidence of the stinging blast,
which he so powerful felt.
Placing a large glass plate between himself and the exploding wire,
he performed the test again. Bang! The wire again turned to
vapor...but the pressured stinging effect was still felt.
was this? How were these stinging effects able to penetrate the
glass plate? Now he was not sure whether he was experiencing a
pressure effect or an electrical one. The glass would have screened
any mechanical shrapnel, but would not appreciably shield any
Through careful isolation of each experimental component, Tesla
gradually realized that he was observing a very rare electrical
phenomenon. Each "bang" produced the same unexpected shock response
in Tesla, while exploding small wire sections into vapor. The
instantaneous burst produced strange effects never observed with
alternating currents. The painful shocking sensation appeared each
time he closed or opened the switch.
These sudden shock currents
were IMPULSES, not alternations. What surprised him was the fact
that these needle-like shocks were able to reach him from a
distance: he was standing almost ten feet from the discharge site!
These electrical irritations expanded out of the wire in all
directions and filled the room in a mystifying manner. He had never
before observed such an effect. He thought that the hot metal vapor
might be acting as a "carrier" for the electrical charges. This
would explain the strong pressure wave accompanied by the sensation
of electrical shock. He utilized longer wires. When the discharge
wire was resistive enough, no explosion could occur.
Wire in place, the dynamo whirred at a slower speed. He threw the
switch for a brief instant, and was again caught off guard by the
stinging pressure wave! The effect persisted despite the absence of
an explosive conductor. Here was a genuine mystery. Hot vapor was
not available to "carry" high voltage charges throughout the room.
No charge carriers could be cited in this instance to explain the
stinging nature of the pressure wave. So what was happening here?
The pressure wave was sharp and strong, like a miniature
thunderclap. It felt strangely "electrical" when the dynamo voltage
was sufficiently high. In fact, it was uncomfortably penetrating
when the dynamo voltage was raised beyond certain thresholds. It
became clear that these pressure waves might be electrified.
Electrified sound waves. Such a phenomenon would not be unexpected
when high voltages were used.
Perhaps he was fortunate enough to
observe the rare phenomenon for the first time.
He asked questions. How and why did the charge jump out of the line
in this strange manner? Here was a phenomenon, which was not
described in any of the texts with which he was familiar. And he
knew every written thing on electricity.
Thinking that he was the
victim of some subtle, and possibly deadly short circuit, he
rigorously examined the circuit design. Though he searched, he could
find no electrical leakages. There were simply no paths for any
possible corona effects to find their way back into the switching
terminal, which he held.
Deciding to better insulate the arrangement in order that all
possible line leakages could be eradicated, he again attempted the
experiment. The knife switch rapidly closed and opened, he again
felt the unpleasant shock just as painfully as before. Right through
the glass shield! Now he was perplexed. Desiring total distance from
the apparatus, he modified the system once more by making it
He could freely walk around the room during the test. He could hold
the shield or simply walk without it. A small rotary spark switch
was arranged in place of the hand-held knife switch. The rotary
switch was arranged to interrupt the dynamo current in slow,
successive intervals. The system was actuated, the motor switch
cranked it contacts slowly. Snap ... snap ... snap ... each contact
produced the very same room-filling irritation.
This time it was most intense. Tesla could not get away from the
shocks, regardless of his distance from the apparatus across his
considerably large gallery hall. He scarcely could get near enough
to deactivate the rotating switch. From what he was able to
painfully observe, thin sparks of a bright blue-white color stood
straight out of the line with each electrical contact.
The shock effects were felt far beyond the visible spark
terminations. This seemed to indicate that their potential was far
greater than the voltage applied to the line. A paradox!
charge was supplied at a tension of fifteen thousand volts, yet the
stinging sparks were characteristics of electrostatic discharges
exceeding some two hundred fifty thousand volts.
Somehow this input
current was being transformed into a much higher voltage by an
unknown process. No natural explanation could be found. No
scientific explanation sufficed. There was simply not enough data on
the phenomenon for an answer. And Tesla knew that this was no
ordinary phenomenon. Somewhere in the heart of this activity was a
deep natural secret. Secrets of this kind always opened humanity
into new revolutions.
Tesla considered this strange voltage multiplying effect from
several viewpoints. The problem centered around the fact that there
was no magnetic induction taking place. Transformers raise or lower
voltage when current is changing. Here were impulses. Change was
happening during the impulse.
But there was no transformer in the
circuit. No wires were close enough for magnetic inductions to take
place. Without magnetic induction, there could theoretically be no
transformation effect. No conversion from low to high voltage at
Yet, each switch snap brought both the radiating blue-white
sparks and their painful sting.
Tesla noted that the strange sparks were more like electrostatic
If the sparks had been direct current arcs reaching from
the test line, he would surely have been killed with the very first
close of the switch. The physical pressure and stinging pain of
these sparks across such distances could not be explained. This
phenomenon had never been reported by those who should have seen and
felt its activities.
Tesla gradually came to the conclusion that the shock effect was
something new, something never before observed. He further
concluded that the effect was never seen before because no one had
ever constructed such a powerful impulse generator. No one had ever
reported the phenomenon be cause no one had ever generated the
Tesla once envisioned a vortex of pure energy while
looking into a sunset. The result of this great Providential vision
was Polyphase current. A true revelation. But this, this was an
original discovery found through an accident. It was an empirical
discovery of enormous significance. Here was a new electrical force,
an utterly new species of electrical force, which should have been
incorporated into the electrical equations of James Clerk Maxwell.
Surprisingly, it was not.
Tesla now questioned his own knowledge. He questioned the
foundations on which he had placed so much confidence in the last
several years. Maxwell was the "rule and measure" by which all of
Tesla's Polyphase generators had been constructed.
the validity of Maxwell's mathematical method. It was well known
that Maxwell had derived his mathematical descriptions of
electromagnetic induction from a great collection of available
electrical phenomena. Perhaps he had not studied enough of the
phenomena while doing so.
Perhaps newer phenomena had not been discovered, and were therefore
unavailable to Maxwell for consideration. How was Maxwell justified
in stating his equations as "final"? In deriving the laws of
electromagnetic induction, Maxwell had imposed his own "selection
process" when deciding which electrical effects were the "basic
There were innumerable electrical phenomena, which had been
observed since the eighteenth century. Maxwell had difficulty
selecting what he considered to be "the most fundamental" induction
effects from the start. The selection process was purely arbitrary.
After having "decided" which induction effects were "the most
fundamental", Maxwell then reduced these selected cases and
described them mathematically. His hope was to simplify matters for
engineers who were designing new electrical machines.
were producing "prejudicial" responses in engineers who could not
bear the thought of any variations from the "standard". Tesla had
experienced this kind of thematic propaganda before, when he was a
student. The quantitative wave of blindness was catching up with
Tesla and others knew very well that there were strange and
anomalous forms of electromagnetic induction, which were constantly,
and accidentally being observed. These seemed to vary as the
experimental apparatus varied. New electrical force discoveries were
a regular feature of every Nature Magazine issue. Adamant in the
confidence that all electrical phenomena had been both observed and
mathematically described, academicians would be very slow to accept
But this academic sloth is not what bothered Tesla. He had already
found adequate compensation for his superior knowledge in the world
of industry. Tesla, now in possession of an effect, which was not
predicted by Maxwell, began to question his own knowledge.
become a "mechanist", the very thing which he reviled when a
Empirical fact contradicted what that upon he based his
whole life's work. Goethe taught that nature leads humanity.
The choice was clear: accept the empirical evidence and reject the
conventional theory. For a time he struggled with a way to "derive"
the shock effect phenomenon by mathematically wrestling "validity"
from Maxwell's equations ... but could not. A new electrical
principle had been revealed. Tesla would take this, as he did the
magnetic vortex, and from it weave a new world.
What had historically taken place was indeed unfortunate.
Maxwell lived after Tesla's accidental discovery, then the effect
might have been included in the laws. Of course, we have to assume
that Maxwell would have "chosen" the phenomenon among those, which
he considered "fundamental".
There was no other way to see his new discovery now. Empirical fact
contradicted theoretical base. Tesla was compelled to follow. The
result was an epiphany, which changed Tesla's inventive course. For
the remainder of his life he would make scientific assertions, which
few could believe, and fewer yet would reproduce. There yet exist
several reproducible electrical phenomena, which cannot be predicted
They continually appear whenever adventuresome
experimenters make accidental observations.
High voltage impulse currents produced a hitherto unknown radiant
In fact, here was an electrical "broadcast" effect whose
implementation in a myriad of bizarre designs would set Tesla apart
from all other inventors. This new electrical force effect was a
preeminent discovery of great historical significance. Despite this
fact, few academicians grasped its significance as such. Focused now
on dogmatizing Maxwell's work, they could not accept Tesla's
Academes argued that Tesla's effect could not
exist. They insisted that Tesla revise his statements.
Tesla's mysterious effect could not have been predicted by Maxwell
because Maxwell did not incorporate it when formulating his
How could he have done so, when the phenomenon was just
Tesla now pondered the academic ramifications of this
new effect. What then of his own and possibly other electrical
phenomena, which were not incorporated into Maxwell's force laws?
Would academes now ignore their existence?
Would they now even dare
to reject the possibility of such phenomena on the basis of an
incomplete mathematical description?
Seeing that the effect could grant humanity enormous possibilities
when once tamed, Tesla wished to study and implement the radiant
electrical action under much safer conditions.
The very first step,
which he took before proceeding with this experimental line, was the
construction of special grounded copper barriers: shields to block
the electrical emanations from reaching him.
They were large, body-sized mantles of relatively thick copper. He
grounded these to insure his own complete safety. In electrical
terms, they formed a "Faraday Cage" around him. This assembly would
block out all static discharges from ever reaching Tesla during the
tests. Now he could both observe and write what he saw with
Positioned behind his copper mantle, Tesla initiated the action.
ZZZZZZ ... the motorized switch whirring, dynamo voltage interrupted
several hundred times per second, the shock action was now
continuous. He felt a steady rhythm of electrostatic irritations
right through the barrier accompanied by a pressure wave, which
kept expanding. An impossibility. No electrical influence should
have passed through the amount of copper, which composed the
Yet this energetic effect was penetrating, electrically
shocking, and pressured. He had no words to describe this aspect of
the new phenomenon. The shocks really stung.
Tesla was sure that this new discovery would produce a completely
new breed of inventions, once tamed and regulated. Its effects
differed completely from those observed in high frequency
These special radiant sparks were the result
of non-reversing impulses. In fact, this effect relied on the
non-reversing nature of each applied burst for its appearance. A
quick contact charge by a powerful high voltage dynamo was
performing a feat of which no alternating generator was capable.
Here was a demonstration of "broadcast electricity".
Most researchers and engineers are fixed in their view of Nikola
Tesla and his discoveries.
They seem curiously rigidified in the
thought that his only realm of experimental developments laid in
alternating current electricity. This is an erroneous conception
which careful patent study reveals. Few recognize the documented
facts that, after his work with alternating currents was completed,
Tesla switched over completely to the study of impulse currents. His
patents from this period to the end of his career are filled with
the terminology equated with electrical impulses alone.
The secret lay principally in the direct current application in a
small time interval. Tesla studied this time increment, believing
that it might be possible to eliminate the pain field by shortening
the length of time during which the switch contact is made. In a
daring series of experiments, he developed rapid mechanical rotary
switches, which handled very high direct voltage potentials. Each
contact lasted an average of one ten-thousandth second.
Exposing himself to such impulses of very low power, he discovered
to his joy and amazement that the pain field was nearly absent. In
its place was a strange pressure effect, which could be felt right
through the copper barriers. Increasing the power levels of this
device produced no pain increase, but did produce an intriguing
increased pressure field.
The result of simple interrupted high
voltage DC, the phenomenon was never before reported except by
witnesses of close lightning strokes. This was erroneously
attributed however to pressure effects in air.
Not able to properly comprehend their nature at first, Tesla also
conservatively approached the pressure phenomenon as due to air
pressure. He had first stated that the pressure field effect was due
to sharp sound waves, which proceeded outward from the suddenly
charged line. In fact, he reported this in a little-known
publication where he first announced the discovery.
pressure effects "electrified sound waves", he described their
penetrating nature in acoustic terms.
Further experimentation however, gradually brought the new awareness
that both the observed pressure effect and electrical shock fields
were not taking place in air at all. He demonstrated that these
actions could take place in oil immersions. Impulse charged lines
were placed in mineral oil and carefully watched. Strong pressure
projections emerged from sharp wire ends in the oil, as if air were
streaming out under high pressure.
Tesla first believed that this stream was wire-absorbed air driven
off by electrical pressure. Continual operation of the phenomenon
convinced him that the projected stream was not air at all.
Furthermore, he was not at a loss to explain the effect, but was
reluctant to mention his own theory of what had been generated by
high voltage direct current impulses.
Tesla made electrical measurements of this projective stream. One
lead of a galvanometer was connected to a copper plate, the other
grounded. When impulses were applied to wire line, the unattached
and distant meter registered a continual direct current.
through space without wires!
Now here was something which impulses
achieved, never observed with alternating currents of any
Analysis of this situation proved that electrical energy or
electrically productive energies were being projected from the
impulse device as rays, not waves. Tesla was amazed to find these
rays absolutely longitudinal in their action through space,
describing them in a patent as "light-like rays". These observations
conformed with theoretical expectations described in 1854 by Kelvin.
In another article Tesla calls them "dark-rays", and "rays which are
more light-like in character". The rays neither diminished with the
inverse square of the distance nor the inverse of the distance from
They seemed to stretch out in a progressive
shock-shell to great distances without any apparent loss.
Nikola Tesla now required greater power levels than those provided
by his mechanical rotary switch system.
He also saw the need for
controlling ultrarapid current interruptions of high repetition
("succession") rates. No mechanical switch could perform in this
manner. He had to envision and devise some new means by which
ultra-rapid interruptions could be obtained. In his best and most
efficient system, highly charged capacitors were allowed to
impulsively discharge across special heavy-duty magnetic arcs.
The magnetic arc gap was capable of handling the large currents
required by Tesla. In achieving powerful, sudden impulses of one
polarity, these were the most durable. Horn shaped electrodes were
positioned with a powerful permanent magnetic field. Placed at right
angles to the arc itself, the currents, which suddenly formed in
this magnetic space, were accelerated along the horns until they
were extinguished. Rapidly extinguished!
Arcs were thus completely extinguished within a specified time
increment. Tesla configured the circuit parameters so as to prevent
capacitor alternations from occurring through the arc space. Each
arc discharge represented a pure unidirectional impulse of very
great power. No "contaminating current reversals" were possible or
Reversals... alternations... would ruin the "shock broadcast".
effect was never observed when alternating currents were engaged.
High voltage was supplied by a large dynamo. Tesla could speed or
slow this dynamo with a hand operated rheostat. Power was applied in
parallel across the capacitor. The magnetic arc was linked almost
directly to one side of this capacitor, a long and thick copper
strap connecting the magnetic arc and the far capacitor plate.
This simple asymmetric positioning of the magnetic arc discharger to
one side of the dynamo supply produced pure unidirectional
electropositive or electronegative impulses as desired. Tesla
designed this very simple and powerfully effective automatic
switching system for achieving ultra-rapid impulses of a single
Capacitor values, arc distances, magnetic fields and
dynamo voltages were all balanced and adjusted to yield a repetitive
train of ultra-short singular impulses without "fly back" effects.
The system is not really well understood by engineers, the
exceptional activities of the arc plasma introducing numerous
additional features to the overall system. While the effects, which
Tesla claimed, can be reproduced with electron tube impulse
circuitry, these produce decidedly inferior effects. The overall
power of the basic arc discharge is difficult to equal. Tesla
eventually enclosed the magnetic arc, immersing the gap space in
mineral oil. This blocked premature arcing, while very greatly
increasing the system output.
Most imagine that the Tesla impulse system is merely a "very high
This is a completely erroneous notion,
resulting in effects, which can never equal those to which Tesla
referred. The magnetic discharge device was a true stroke of genius.
It rapidly extinguishes capacitor charge in a single disruptive
blast. This rapid current rise and decline formed an impulse of
Tesla called this form of automatic arc
switching a "disruptive discharge" circuit, distinguishing it from
numerous other kinds of arc discharge systems. It is very simply a
means for interrupting a high voltage direct current without
allowing any backward current alternations. When these conditions
are satisfied, the Tesla Effect is then observed.
The asymmetrical positioning of the capacitor and the magnetic arc
determines the polarity of the impulse train. If the magnetic arc
device is placed near the positive charging side, then the strap is
charged negative and the resultant current discharge is decidedly
Tesla approached the testing of his more powerful systems with
certain fear. Each step of the testing process was necessarily a
dangerous one. But he discovered that when the discharges exceeded
ten thousand per second, the painful shock effect was absent. Nerves
of the body were obviously incapable of registering the separate
But this insensitivity could lead to a most seductive
death. The deadly aspects of electricity might remain. Tesla was
therefore all the more wary of the experiments.
He noticed that, though the pain field was gone, the familiar
pressure effect remained. In its place came a defined and
penetrating heat. Tesla was well aware that such heat could signal
internal electrocution. He had already made a thorough study of
these processes, recognizing that such heating precedes the
formation of electrical arcs through the body. Nevertheless, he
applied power to the dynamo in small but steady intervals.
Each increase brought increase in the internal heating effects. He
remained poised at each power level, sensing and scoping his own
physiology for danger signs. He continued raising the power level
until the magnetic arc reached its full buzzing roar. Tesla found
that this heat could be adjusted and, when not extreme, was
completely enjoyable. So soothing, relaxing, and comfortable was
this manifestation that Tesla daily exposed himself to the energies.
An electrical "sauna".
He later reported these findings in medical journals, freely
offering the discovery to the medical world for its therapeutic
benefits. Tesla was a notorious user of all such therapies from
this time on, often falling into a deep sleep in the warm and
Once, having overindulged the electro-sauna
therapy, he fell into a profoundly deep sleep from which he emerged
a day later! He reported that this experience was not unpleasant,
but realized that proper "electro-dosages" would necessarily have to
be determined by medical personnel.
During this time, Tesla found shorter impulse lengths where the
heating effect disappeared altogether, rendering the radiance
absolutely harmless. These impulse trains were so very high that the
deepest nerves of one's body could not sense the permeating radiant
Now he could pursue his vision of broadcast energy
systems without fear of rendering to humanity a technological curse,
rather than a true blessing.
Tesla operated the magnetic arc system at higher power levels,
experimenting with various impulse lengths and repetition rates.
measured the mysterious electrical current, which apparently flowed
through space from this system. These radiant fields operated at far
greater power than before. Strange effects were suddenly appearing
at certain distances from the magnetic impulser.
For one thing, Tesla noticed that metallic surfaces near the
impulser became covered with white brush-like corona discharges.
While the sparks played in trails across the metal surfaces, Tesla
observed physical movement among the metal objects. Tensions and
rocking motions. Both phenomena occurring simultaneously, he was
utterly fascinated. The sparks themselves seemed alive. The moving
metal objects seemed to suggest new motor effects.
What was this
strange coalition, this synchronicity of phenomena?
Brilliant white coronas came forth with a gaseous "hissing" sound
from metal points and edges. Metal plates were soon poised all
around the device for observation. Tesla recognized at once that
these effects were not identical with those obtained earlier while
using high frequency alternating currents. These new discharges were
white, energetic, and strong.
The electrical behavior of copper plates, rods, cylinders, and
spheres near his primary impulser brought forth a great variety of
white fluidic discharges. Strong discharge brushes appeared from the
ends of copper plates. These came in prodigious volumes, hissing and
arcing wildly in all directions, especially from sharp points.
Tesla tried copper discs.
These seemed to produce more stable
discharges. He observed the curious manner in which these white
discharges seemed to "race" around the disc edge at times, blending
and separating with all the other sparks. Here was a greatly
magnified example of Reichenbach's Od force perhaps!
He noted the manner in which white brush discharges appeared from
copper conductors of different shapes. Each form, poised near his
impulser, gave a characteristic corona distribution. This coronal
correspondence with specific geometric form greatly impressed him.
With certain metal forms the discharges were very fluidic in
appearance. Smooth, fluidic sheaths covered copper cylinders of
specific size. This absolutely fascinated Tesla. There was an
aerodynamic nature inherent in radiant electricity.
Copper cylinders produced remarkable volumes of white discharges.
The discharges from certain sized cylinders were actually larger
than those being applied.
This inferred that an energy
transformation effect was taking place within the cylinder. This
reminded him of his initial observation with the shock-excited
wires. Those which did not explode gave forth far greater voltages
than were initially used. He had never understood why this was
occurring. Here was another instance in which applied energy was
seemingly magnified by a conductor.
Why was this happening?
The key to understanding this bizarre phenomenon might be found
here, he thought. He observed the discharges from copper cylinders
of various diameters. Each became edged with white brush discharges
when held near or actually placed within the conductive copper strap
of the impulser. The discharge effect was most pronounced when
cylinders were placed within the periphery of the copper strap.
Tesla noticed that white corona sheaths were actually covering the
outer cylinder wall at times. These would appear, build in strength,
and disappear on sudden discharge with a surprising length. The
sheathing action was repetitive when the cylinder had a critically
small volume. Very small cylinders behaved like rods, where
discharges only appeared at their edges.
The stability of these
strange sheath discharges varied with cylinder diameter and length.
Tesla noticed that not every cylinder performed well near the impulser. Only cylinders of specific volume produced stable and
continuous white electrical sheaths. If the cylinders were too
small, then the sheaths were intermittent and unstable. There was
an obvious connection between the supplied impulse train and the
But what was it?
Tesla surveyed the entire range of his recent discoveries. Impulses
produced a radiant electrical effect. Radiant electricity was
mysteriously flowing through space. As it flowed, it focused over
metal conductors as a white fluidic corona. When the shape and
volume of the metal conductors were just right, the energy appeared
as a stable white corona of far greater voltage than the impulse
More questions. More discoveries.
Rods produced sparks from their edges, but not as long as copper
cylinders did. Tesla selected a cylinder, which worked very well,
and placed several horizontal "cuts" all around its surface. He was
totally surprised when, on testing, the spark discharge from the cut
cylinder was notably larger than before. Increased spark length
means increased voltage.
But why did this diminished conductivity
force the voltage up?
The cuts diminished conductivity in the cylinder by forcing the
energy into a tighter "squeeze". He had noted that electrical
impulses displayed a tendency to traverse the outer surface of metal
conductors. Certain cylinders were often ensheathed in a fluidic
white discharge, which smoothly traveled between coil ends in a
tightly constricted layer. Here was something truly notable. His
input voltage was far less than that produced from the upper coil
But why from end to end?
The essential reason why current preferred outer surface conduction
was precisely because they were impulsing. The sudden shock, which
any conductor experienced, produced an expansive effect, where the
electrical charge was rejected by the conductive interior. This
"skin effect" was a function of impulse time and conductor
resistance. Highly resistant objects forced all of the impulse
energy to the surface.
Now he was getting somewhere. Frustrated radiant electricity
constricted into a tighter surface volume when encountering metal
surfaces. This intense surface focusing effect brought the voltage
up to tremendous values. Here was a new transformer effect! He
believed it was an electrostatic transformation. Impulse currents
each possessed an electrostatic nature. The bunching of charge in
the impulser brings this electrostatic field to a peak in a small
instant of time.
Constricting this field volume produces a greatly magnified voltage.
Placement of any conductor in the field space alters the field by
constricting its shape. When symmetrical conductors of special
shape, volume, and resistance are placed in this space, the field
is greatly constricted. Because the impulsing electrostatic field is
very abrupt, it "snaps" over the conductor from end to end.
Tesla knew that here is where the secret lies. If resistance in the
conductor is great enough, the snapping electrostatic force cannot
move any charges. It is forced to "grow" over the conductor surface
until it discharges at the end point, where greatly magnified
voltages are obtained. When the wire diameter is small enough, the
wire explodes under electrostatic pressures, which exceed those seen
In effect, Tesla had managed to interrupt a high voltage direct
current several thousand times per second.
In doing so, he had
discovered a way to completely separate electrostatic energy from
current impulses. Tesla pondered these facts, wondering if it was
possible to force the magnification effect beyond the limits of
standard electromagnetic transformers. In other words, how high
could voltage be raised? Was there a limit to the process?
In order to achieve such enormous voltage levels, he needed a
conductive shape, which offered so much resistance to charge
movement, that all the applied energy would become electrostatic. In
effect, Tesla wanted to convert a quantity of supply power into a
pure electrostatic voltage. This phenomenon suggested that his goal
was not impossible.
Tesla extended his idea of the cut copper cylinder to coils. From
the viewpoint of electrostatic impulses, flat copper coils appear to
be "continuously cut" cylinders. The electrostatic field focuses
over the coil as it did with the cylinders, from end to end.
simple magnet coil of specific volume would offer so much resistance
that it would be difficult to predict the actual resultant voltage,
which results without an empirical test.
Constructing several of these, he was ready for the test.
copper magnet coil was impulsed, Tesla saw tremendous white brushes
leaping from their free ends: discharges approaching one million
But his supply power was nowhere near these voltages, and the
coil was not wrapped in thousands of windings. These previously
unexpected voltage magnifications were the result of an energy
transformation, one that took electrical power and converted it
completely into pressure. Watts into Volts, an unheard thing. It was
the key to a new and explosive technology.
Tesla also found that such coils required very thin coil forms. He
ceased using cellulose and cardboard forms, preferring "squirrel
cage" type forms made of thin end-braced wooden rods. Wire was wound
about these cylindrically disposed rods, producing the very best
effects. Spacings were also tried between successive coil windings
with excellent results. Spaced windings reduced sparking to a
Tesla remarked that the electrostatic potentials along the coil
surface (from end to end) could be as much as ten thousand volts per
inch of winding! A ten-inch coil of proper volume could produce one
hundred thousand volt discharges. In addition, and in confirmation
of his suspicions, no current was ever measured at the free
terminals of these coils.
A "zero coil current" condition! It was
simply another paradox, which would occupy the academicians for
several more argumentative decades. Tesla suddenly realized that
coils represented a truly special and valuable component in his
The instantaneous resistance which any coil offered to an
applied impulse was so immense that current could not flow through
the wire length. As a phenomenal consequence, no current flowed
through the coil windings at all! But sparking was observed,
traveling from coil end to end.
Here was yet another anomaly!
He began placing these "secondary" coils within his "primary"
impulser circuit. The strap, which connected his magnetic arc to the
capacitors, formed the "primary". He made necessary distinctions
among his Transformer components. Few engineers actually appreciate
these distinctions. The "primary" and "secondary" of Tesla
Transformers are not magnetic inductors.
They are resistive
capacitors. Coil-shaped capacitors! Tesla Transformer action is
There were conditions for the most efficient manifestation of the
effect. Maxwell could not predict these values. Tesla empirically
discovered most of the rules for impulse behavior. He found that the
transformative abilities of these smooth copper coils were maximum
when the coil mass equaled the mass of the impulser's conductive
copper strap. It did not matter how thin the coil windings were.
equality of copper masses brought maximum transformative effects.
When this equal mass condition was fulfilled, Tesla said that the
coil-capacitors were "in resonance". Electrostatic resonance.
Tesla found it possible to produce millions of electrostatic volts
by this method. His first Transformers were horizontal in
orientation, both free ends of the secondary coil-capacitor
producing unidirectional impulses of great power. White discharges
from each of these free ends had very different characteristics,
indicating the unidirectional flow. Electropositive terminals
always appeared brush-like and broad. Electronegative terminals
always appeared constricted and dart-like.
His next Transformer series employed vertical cylinders with the
base connected directly to ground. Free terminals stood quite a
distance above the primary capacitor strap, spouting a brilliant
white crown. These marked a turning point in his theories concerning
electricity, since it was possible for him to develop well over one
million volts impulse power in a device scarcely taller than a
These discharges were of an intense white coloration. White-fire.
Very sudden impulses color discharge channels with the brilliant
white-fire because Tesla Transformers separate the effusive Aether
from electrons. Tesla Transformer conduct Aether, not electrons.
The white-fire brilliance is the distinctive Aetheric trademark of
During this time, Tesla discovered the peculiar necessity for
streamlining his Transformers.
Cylindrical secondary capacitors
suddenly became conical forms. These presented the most bizarre
appearance of all. Tesla used cone-shaped secondaries to focus the
impulses. White-fire discharges from these forms evidenced real
focusing effects, the discharges themselves assuming inverted
Their greatly intensified nature is seen in
photographs, which were taken under his own intrigued supervision.
The magnified voltages were reaching those thresholds in which his
laboratory enclosures were far too small to continue making
industrial scale progress on radiant energy systems.
The fact that white-fire discharges pass through all matter, notably
insulators, revealed the Aetheric nature. Tesla saw that white-fire
discharges could permeate all materials in a strangely gaseous
manner. This penetration scarcely heated matter. In fact, the
white-fire brushes often had a cooling effect.
themselves, though violent in appearance, were "soft" when compared
to all other forms of electricity. He had successfully removed the
hazard from electricity. In blocking the slow and dense charges, he
had freed the mysterious effusive Aether streams inherent in
Because of this, new and intensified radiant effects
were constantly making their appearance across his laboratory space.
Tesla found that as these new "Impulse Transformers" greatly
magnified power supplied to them, so also their radiant electric
effects were equally magnified. He found it possible to wirelessly
project electrostatic power to very great distances, lighting
special lamps to full candlepower at hundreds of feet. In these
experiments, he also conceived of signaling systems.
It would be
possible to switch radiant effects in telegraphic fashion. Distant
vacuum tube receivers would then light or dim in corresponding
manner. Tesla experimented with a special breed of telegraphic
wireless in 1890.
He also found it possible to wirelessly operate specially
constructed motors by properly intercepting this space-flowing
energy stream. He had made his own Polyphase system obsolete! The
new vision was vastly more enthralling. The world would be
transformed. He discovered ways to beam the energy out to any focus,
even to the zenith. His plan to illuminate the night sky with a
radiant energy beacon captured the minds of all who listened.
Tesla now possessed the means by which the radiant electricity could
be greatly magnified and transmitted. He could now transform the
very nature of the radiance so that it could carry increasingly
greater power. Now he could begin developing a new technology, which
would completely revitalize the world order. Power could be
broadcast to any location without wire connections. Radiant
electricity could be utilized in completely new appliances.
world was about to be released!
SPACE FLOWING CURRENT
Understanding the analogue between these electrical impulse effects
and the behavior of high-pressure gases was of paramount importance.
This gaseous aspect of impulse electrical radiance was perhaps the
most mystifying aspect of these newfound energies. Those who sought
out Tesla's every lecture were very aware that a new electrical
species had been discovered.
While yet a student, Tesla had became aware of certain scientific
imperatives enunciated by Johann von Goethe. One of these was the
preservation and extension of all activities-natural. Goethe implied
that when natural conditions were preserved during experimentation,
then nature itself was in the best configuration to reveal more
unified phenomenal exhibitions to qualitative observers.
Tesla recognized that his new discovery of impulse, the result of an
accident, was a total departure from Polyphase alternating current.
While his original vision of the vortex was applied by him to the
designing of motors and generators, Tesla now realized that this was
not its primary message.
In fact, taken from the viewpoint, which
Goethe expressed, Polyphase was a most unnatural form of energy.
Natural activity is suffused with impulses, not alternations.
Natural activity is initiated as a primary impulse. Nature is
flooded with impulses of all kinds. From lightning to nervous
activities, all natural energy movements occur as impulses. Impulses
were now seen by Tesla to fill the natural world. But, more
fundamentally, Tesla saw that impulses flood the metaphysical world.
The mysterious flow of meanings during conversation occurs as a
sequence of directed impulses in space. Though inert air vibrates in
alternations with sounds uttered, the flow of meaning remains
unidirectional. Intentions are also impulses. The unidirectional
flow of intentions appear as impulses. Motivations proceed from the
manifestation of sudden desires. Overtly expressed as actions, the
initiating impulses are then fulfilled.
Tesla wished to comprehend where this "motivating force" came from,
and where it went during the expressed actions. In all of this, he
was very much the wonderful stereotype of the Victorian natural
philosopher. His scientific pursuits followed these considerations
until the last. Those who study his announcements recognize his
metaphysical foundations, the basis of all his subsequent scientific
Tesla observed the amazing "coordination" of new phenomena which
daily seemed to bring new technological potentials before him. This
wonderful synchronicity, this vortex, revealed his new and fortunate
position in nature.
Having somehow "broken" his fixation with the
unnatural ... with Polyphase ... he reentered the natural once
Could it be that the induction of electrical
impulses summoned the other impulse characteristics of nature?
he producing a metaphysical vortex, into which all the impulse
phenomena of nature would now flow?
Was this the real sunset
message, which seized him in Budapest, so many years ago?
electricity the fundamental natural energy ... the motivator?
Victorian Science was not exactly sure what electricity was, there
being so very many attributes associated with the term.
and Eighteenth Century natural philosophers conjectured on the
nature of both electric and magnetic forces. Gilbert and Descartes
shared the belief that these forces were a special kind of "flowing
charge", a space radiant stream which took place in tightly
Some equated the electromagnetic forces with a
"dark light", which Karl von Reichenbach later proved in part.
Faraday adopted and modified the view that electromagnetic forces
acted through space because they were a special flow of charge. This
effusive charge movement changed when traveling through conductors,
becoming more densified and retarded in velocity. Faraday's "lines
of force" were not conceived by him to be mere static tensions as
modernists view them. Faraday envisioned these force lines as
radiant, streaming lines. They were mobile, moving longitudinally
Others would change the names, referring to electric force lines as
"diaelectric" or dielectric flux, but the view remained essentially
as conceived by Faraday. Young James Clerk Maxwell also believed
that force lines were dynamic, longitudinal lines of flow. But
flow-lines of what substance? Here lay the principle problem, which
occupied physicists throughout the Victorian Era.
Victorian researchers and natural philosophers wished to discover
the exact nature of the "flowing charge" of which force lines were
composed. Most agreed that the mysterious flowing "substance" had to
be an effusive, ultra-gaseous flux. This flux was composed of
infinitesimal energy particles, which affected the various pressures
and inductions, observed.
Henry and Faraday struggled with the idea of deriving usable
electric power from static charges. The notions was that, since
force-lines were made of a "flowing charge substance", then fixed
contacts placed on charged masses would supply electrical power
forever. No one was able, however, to derive this flowing charge.
Lossy discharges preceded every contact.
Most researchers, whose
attempts with highly charged Leyden Jars failed, sought a more
benign source of concentrated charge. The quest shifted to magnets,
but the attempt remained as futile as ever. There remained no
available way to derive power from the individual flowing charges of
J.J. Thomson discovered electrons in vacuum discharges; assuming
that these "electric particles" operated in all instances where
electrical activity was observed. Victorian researchers did not
accept this view completely. Thomson's "electrons" were viewed as
the result of violent collisions across a vacuum acceleration space.
It was not possible to ascertain whether these same "Thomson
currents" were active within electrical conductors operating at
Very reputable experimenters besides Tesla continued claiming that
"space flowing electricity" is the real electricity. Tesla's classic
demonstrations proved that rapid electrical impulses actually exceed
the ability of fixed charges to transmit the applied forces. Charges
lag where electrostatic forces continue propagating. One is
compelled to see that electrostatic forces precede the movement of
Tesla saw that electrostatic impulses could flow without line
charges. His "zero current coils" operated simply because the
charges themselves were immobilized. Electricity was shown to be
more in the nature of a flowing force rather than a stream of
But what then was this "flowing current"?
In Tesla's view, radiant electricity is a space flowing current,
which is NOT made of electrons. Later Victorians believed that there
was a substance, which both filled all space and permeated all
matter. Several serious researchers claimed to have identified this
gas. Notables, such as Mendeleev predicted the existence of several
ultra-rare gases, which preceded hydrogen.
These, he claimed, were
inert gases. This is why they were rarely detected. The inert gases,
which Mendeleev predicted, formed an atmosphere, which flooded all
These gaseous mixtures composed the Aether.
Tesla and others believed that both electrical and magnetic forces
were actually streams of Aether gas, which had been fixated in
matter. Materials were somehow "polarized" by various "frictive"
treatments by which an Aether gas flow was induced in them. Most
materials could maintain the flow indefinitely, since no work was
required on their part. Matter had only to remain polarized,
transducing the Aether flow. The Aether gas contained all the power.
This Aether gas power manifested as the electromagnetic forces
themselves, adequate reason to pursue the development of an Aether
gas engine. Such an engine could run forever on the eternal kinetic
energies of the Aether itself, it being both generated and driven by
Tesla believed that radiant electricity is composed of Aether gas.
He based this belief on the fact that his zero current coils were
not conducting the "slow and dense" charges usually observed in
ordinary electrical circuits. Abrupt impulses produced distinctive
and different effects ... fluidic effects. The qualities ascribed by
Tesla to "electricity" or things "electrical" in his numerous patent
texts and press interviews are those, which refer to the Aether gas.
Tesla did not refer to electron currents as "electricity". He did
not equate "electricity" with electron flow. Whenever Tesla spoke of
"electrical" effects he always described their effusive, gaseous
Tesla referred to space as the "ambient or natural medium". Space,
he claimed, was that which "conducts electricity". He had found a
means by which this gaseous electrical flow could be greatly
concentrated, magnified, and directed. He saw that this radiant
electricity was, in reality, a gaseous emanation. An Aetheric
emanation. This is why he made constant reference to fluidic
terminology throughout his lectures.
Resistance, volume, capacity, reservoir, surface area, tension,
pressure, pressure release: these were the terms upon which Tesla
relied throughout his presentations. The terminology of hydraulics.
Tesla also recognized that because Aether was a gas, it had
Aether, in Tesla's lexicon, was space flowing electricity: a gas of
superlative and transcendent qualities. Aether was the electricity,
which filled all of space, a vast reservoir of unsurpassable power.
Motive, dynamic, and free for the taking. Aether gas technology
would revolutionize the world. Aether gas engines would provide an
eternal power source for the world.
Science, industry, corporations,
financial alignments, social orders, nations ... everything would
Completing a tour of the major scientific institutes in America,
Tesla expected to retire for a season of rest in New York once
again. News of his advancements however, flooded every technical
trade journal. The name Tesla was everywhere once again.
First polyphase and now radiant electricity. He was the "darling" of the
press. Tesla captured the public eye once again. People everywhere
were thrilled with the projected future visions, which Tesla freely
provided. He was a model European immigrant, suave and debonair.
These are probably the qualities which first attracted Anne Morgan.
Irresistible, wealthy, unattached, and warm.
Tesla was her
Despite his great personal charm and magnetic personality, he
maintained his serious tone and poise wherever he went. The vision
of the future was far more important than the attentions of a young
and flirtatious lady. In anticipation of these forthcoming events,
Tesla often invited other socially esteemed guests to his laboratory
for special demonstrations.
In this manner, it was noised abroad
that what he claimed was in fact real. Anne often attended these
gatherings, breathing silently in the shadows of his large loft
There were others who, although not attending these demonstrations,
were equally watchful of Tesla's newest radiant energy developments.
Several of these persons, shall we say, were interested in his new
discovery and its implications...because their fortunes were
threatened. Tesla had swept the world once with polyphase.
out Edison's Direct Current System overnight.
J.P. Morgan, Edison's recent "patron", had lost a considerable sum
during that fiasco. It was certain that Tesla would soon sweep the
world again with broadcast electricity. This destabilizing influence
would not be tolerated. Anne complicated the affair considerably.
She was in love with Tesla.
Obsessed in fact. Too obsessed and
desperate to let go.
ROYAL SOCIETY LECTURES
In the very midst of all these national attentions, Tesla received
an invitation from Lord Kelvin.
He was formally requested to
address the Royal Society; his latest findings were earnestly
desired. The English, usually extremely conservative, were sure that
Tesla would change the course of world history. Tesla, adjourning
from his daily researches now prepared himself for the lectures,
which would start the world-change.
He packed nearly every piece of
delicate equipment one can imagine. Vacuum tubes, Transformers,
strange motors, and equally strange wireless apparatus. All were
carefully crated and personally brought to Europe by Tesla himself.
His beloved elder and personal mentor, Sir William Crookes, greeted
In the opening portions of his Royal Society lectures Tesla first
described his preliminary work with high voltage high frequency
alternating currents in some length. He explained that these devices
embodied the very last investigations and improvements of his
Polyphase System. He demonstrated several of the first small high
frequency alternators and iron-core induction coils in order to
prepare his audience for a final announcement.
In this very last dramatic demonstration Tesla revealed to British
Academia the disruptive electric discharge and the properties of
electric rays. Tesla made a rare and complete "full disclosure" of
the electric ray effect at the very end of his lecture. It was the
very last time he would ever do so again in academic circles.
Tesla showed that the new radiant electricity was distinctive,
having been openly proclaimed during the London Royal Society
lectures. Tesla deliberately compared and contrasted the potent
impulse radiance to his previous weak effects produced by
alternating currents (February 1892). Fluorescent lamps and other
luminous wonders held his audience spellbound. All the while his
voice, tenor-like by excitement, rang throughout the silent
He demonstrated wireless lamps, lit to full brilliance by radiant
electricity. He ran small motors at sizable distances for his
audiences to see. This last lecture represents the only recorded
instance in which Tesla openly announced his discovery of the
electro-radiant impulse. He tells the personally revolutionizing
aspect of his discovery and how it virtually eradicates his previous
He went to great detail verbally describing and disclosing the
exact means for eliciting the phenomenon.
In his closing time Tesla quickly demonstrates special
"electrostatic" motors and lamps made to utilize the radiant effect.
Examination of these first lamp and vane-motor devices reveals their
primitive and initial state. Tesla modeled the motor after the
Crookes radiometer, stating this fact publicly for the benefit of
his revered mentor.
Tesla finally stated the vast implications of
the discovery. He pointed their minds toward the establishment of
true power transmission.
He prophetically announced the new civilization, which would emerge
from these first devices and systems. The world would be completely
revolutionized by this new principle. Tesla described
beam-transmission of electrical energy, and the possibility of
harnessing the radiant energies of space itself. Those who had
witnessed Tesla's entire demonstration were completely enthralled at
his results, but misunderstood his new announcement completely.
became apparent to Tesla a short while after he, highly decorated
and honored, departed for his Parisian tour. British Science was yet
delving into Teslian high frequency alternations. Tesla had already
disposed of these discoveries as mere preparatory introductions to
Tesla showed by way of comparison that disruptive field impulse
transcendently exceeds all other electro-inductive effects by
several orders. He expressed difficulty in discerning whether the
effects were electrostatic or electrodynamic in nature, preferring
to associate them more with electrostatic effects. We deduce that
he had only recently begun developing the electric impulse effect
because of his hesitance in identifying the phenomena properly.
Tesla was stringently exact in all his statements. This seems
uncharacteristic of his scientific nature. But he did this in true
scientific openness. Tesla did not know exactly what was occurring
in the electric impulse at that time, desiring only to share the
discovery openly and candidly. Academic disapproval of his personal
semantics came swiftly in journal after journal.
It is clear that Sir William Crookes completely grasped the
significance of Tesla's entire demonstration and realized the
closing formal announcement of the new electric force. Crookes could
not contain the thrilling implications. He was also sure that the
new force would completely revolutionize the scientific world.
Crookes upheld Tesla thereafter as the true discoverer of an
unrecognized electrical force.
Tesla continued correspondence with
his mentor after his departure from England. He had hoped that his
dramatic announcement and demonstration would produce a new regime
of electrical engineering, and that others would now reproduce the
radiant electric effects as described. His hopes would be strangely
dashed to pieces in the coming years when the derisive academic
To European academes, the lecture series was astounding. It was a
glimpse of the future, so clear that few could find time to argue
with Tesla at all. Tesla concluded his tour of England and France,
everywhere heralded in typical Victorian heroic style. One night,
while in Paris, a telegram informed him that his mother was on point
of death. Rushing to her bedside, he managed a few hours of final
He always referred to her as the one who completely understood his
strange abilities. Was she not the woman who had encouraged him when
he first remarked about his childhood visions? When siblings and
friends derided him, she was his support.
Early the next morning, in
an adjacent house, he was abruptly awaken by a vision. What he
beheld changed his life. A seraphic host surrounded his mother. She
was ascending into bright clouds. Several minutes after that, the
announcement came. His mother had quietly passed away.
He spent a
torturous week in his native land for her funeral, and fled back
again to New York.
When English engineers wrote, asking the means for generating his
impulse effects, Tesla gave them very strict descriptive
parameters. He never failed to openly disclose the secret by which
his spectacular effects were obtained.
He had learned to freely
share what he knew with all.
He was surprised to discover that the
academic societies who so warmly addressed him in Europe, were
gradually losing interest in his discovery. Being utterly incapable
of duplicating his specified parameters, most believed the effects
to be "dubious".
The impulse effect had very stringent requirements before its
manifestation. Care in constructing impulse generators was the basic
requirement. Engineers wanted equations. Tesla gave them
descriptions. A few experimenters succeeded in later duplicating
Tesla's broadcast electricity effects. But these systems were direct
descendants of Tesla's earliest and less efficient designs.
It is often in the nature of academes to forgo empirically evident
facts and argue personal differences, especially when foreign
personalities are given excessive adulation. Fixated on issues
having to do with words and personal poise, Tesla's audiences found
several acrid voices whose equally vile publications dared tamper
with Tesla's character.
New critics were everywhere, even at home. Dolbear, Thomson, and
even Pupin found time to criticize and deride Tesla.
younger academes relied entirely on schooling and less on empirical
method, they were easily swayed by academic opinion. Tesla
underestimated the power of media and of opinions in underrating
his abilities. He quickly found that public opinion could actually
sway scientific opinion. He failed to see who was behind the media
Tesla disregarded his antagonistic colleagues. Crookes always
deferred to Tesla, whom he admired and loved as a younger protégé.
Tesla revered the aged Crookes, upon whose confidence he came to
rely during more difficult years. Crookes had been given a true
Tesla Transformer when Tesla had given his lectures.
device was potent, giving the uncharacteristic effects, which Tesla
had always claimed. This single piece of evidence was left in
England for all to see. Remarkably, this evidence did not silence
Tesla could see no reason in all of this. Something did not quite
"add up". Even Tesla could see that there was a missing part of the
"equation". Discovering this part would explain his own reversals.
As if these personally devastating events were not enough for him,
the insolent young Anne continued haunting him at his every turn. He
continued being "polite" to her, but never more than this.
Crookes wrote many times to the Royal Society and to Tesla
concerning this fact. Sure that Tesla was a modern Faraday, Crookes
continued espousing the belief that Tesla had discovered the next
historically important electrical advancement. He was encouraged to
continue research despite his protagonists. Few academes trusted
Tesla's methods now. Fewer yet listened any longer to his
Losing credibility as quickly as he had found it, financiers were
slow to trust investing in his new systems. His inventions continued
their steady march into electrical history.
Each new device
chronicles a new step in the technology, which should have changed
the world. He plunged himself headlong into work. Only work would
vindicate him. Opinion would fade when others gradually saw the
astounding developments, which he would produce. In these actions,
Tesla revealed his noble and naive nature.
The world had changed,
but changed toward a more brutish rule.
He set to work developing more powerful embodiments of his initial
Transformers. In order to make a Broadcast Electrical System
possible it would be necessary to devise more efficient
He set to work on this very task, examining and
dissecting every fundamental part of his existing Transformers.
Tesla discovered that excessive sparking, though impressive to
observers, were actually "lossy instabilities". The distant radiant
effects he desired were interrupted and distorted whenever sparking
occurred. Both sparking and brush discharges actually ruined the
distant broadcast effects of radiant electricity, a situation that
had to be remedied. Tesla sought elimination of the discharges now.
Tesla had already found that metals could focus radiant electrical
effects. Additional stability in his Transformers could be achieved
with the addition of large copper spheres to the active terminals.
Tesla considered copper spheres to be "Aether gas reservoirs",
providing his transmitters with an additional Aether gas supply.
Copper spheres attached to Transformer terminals reduced the
required electrical levels for an efficient electric radiance.
Copper spheres significantly reduced the injurious instabilities of
visually spectacular brush discharges, but did not eliminate them
entirely. What Tesla required was a new means for transmitting the
radiant electricity without loss.
Tests with elevated copper spheres facilitated efficient transfer of
radiant power between the Transformer and surrounding space. Now,
Tesla Transformers became true Tesla Transmitters. Tesla found it
possible to broadcast harmless radiant electricity with great power
to very great distances. Numerous subsequent patents recorded his
progressive conquest of the broadcast power principle.
He succeeded in making radiant electricity safe for human use. It
would simply travel around conductors if made to impulse quickly
enough. Only specially entuned receivers could properly intercept
the radiant power for utility. Not three years before he had
accidentally discovered the radiant electrical effect. He dreamt of
safely sending electrical power without wires in 1892.
Now, in 1895,
he had realized his dream.
Would the system work across the vast
distances, which he envisioned?
He took his more portable Transmitters outdoors, away from the
confines of his South Fifth Street laboratory. Both in northern
Manhattan and Long Island, Tesla tested his radiant broadcast
systems without restriction. He measured the distant radiant
electric effects of these designs in electrostatic volts. Broadcast
power could be converted back into current electricity if so
desired, the harmless high voltage becoming current in appropriate
low resistance transformer coils.
He found to his very great surprise that very distantly positioned
vacuum tubes could be lit to great white brilliance when the primary
system was operating. The requirement for this action was twofold.
First both the system and the receivers had to be grounded. Second,
specific volumes of copper had to be connected to the receivers.
When these two requirements were satisfied, lamps maximized their
brilliance, and motors operated with power. Copper in the receiver
had to "match" the copper mass of the transmitter in a very special
equivalence, otherwise radiant transfer would not be efficient. The
requirements differed very much from those of ordinary radio
He also found that elevated copper spheres more powerfully
enhanced the broadcast radiant power from his transmitters. This
was Tesla's means by which his transmitters and receivers could be
better "connected" despite their distance.
Tesla believed that these electrical beams invisibly linked both his
transmitter and receivers together. He considered each as
"disconnected terminals" to ground. Electrical radiance spread out
in all directions from the elevated copper sphere of his
transmitter. The secret in receiving a maximum signal was to match
the transmitter's copper mass with the receiver mass.
Then, the Aether streams would actually focus into the matched receiver. This
affinity would take time, the transmitter energy "searching" for
better ground sites. Radiant electricity evidenced curiously
vegetative "growth characteristics".
Receivers now were outfitted with small copper spheres. These
provided a more efficient affinity and absorption for the radiated
power. The additional copper spheres, which surmounted Tesla
transmitters effectively, lowered the input electrical power for
the production of focused Aether discharges.
Tesla took the gas dynamic analogy to another level when he found
that both low pressure gaseous and vacuum tubes could replace
copper. Electro-radiant effects from gas-filled globes were
projected with less electrical loss and even greater power. Large
low-pressure argon gas filled globes were empirically found to
broadcast tremendous radiance when used atop his transmitters.
Additionally, he found that argon gas at low pressures could serve
as an equivalent receiver as pure copper spheres.
The gas filled globes would be less costly than copper spheres to
disseminate in public use. He was approaching a totally efficient
system. Numerous personages were invited to observe these historic
tests. J.H. Hammond Jr. was one such individual.
Tesla's developments, he and his wife invited Tesla repeatedly to
their home in later years. Tesla was their honored guest for months
at a time. Later in years, after World War I, both Tesla and Hammond
worked on robotics and remote control.
Tesla envisioned small power units for both home and industrial use.
The installation and maintenance of these units would require a
small monthly fee. Through these wireless units one could draw
sufficient power to operate factories and homes alike. Electrical
usage could be metered. The superiority of this new broadcast power
system was obvious to all who observed it in operation.
Tesla also described the use of these power units for
transportation. Transatlantic ships could simply draw their motive
power from continental power broadcast stations. Trains and
automobiles could be operated by drawing their power.
fortunes would soon stimulate financiers to invest heavily in the
In keeping with his publicity-mindedness, several investors were
always invited to Tesla's private demonstrations. Tesla knew that
their urge to support his new world-shaking venture would become
irresistible when once each had beheld his small broadcast power
system. The demonstrations were deemed by these individuals as
"entertaining", in their typical dry tone. But, he rarely heard from
these people again.
Here was a new change. Shy moneymen. A true contradiction.
reticence left Tesla in a state of bewilderment. Once, in a ditch,
his conversation alone was sufficient perfume to attract the bees.
Now? None would dare leap into the new world sea. Why? What sharks
were there besides themselves? Tesla could simply not understand
this new "dearth", this incredulous conservatism and lack of
imagination on the part of New York investors.
Eager to begin, Tesla patiently waited for the messengers to call.
Had he known more of the world around him, however, he would have
stopped waiting. Shortly after Tesla's private demonstrations were
concluded, Morgan's agent approached Tesla with a "business
proposition". The bribe being sizable, contracts would have placed
Morgan in control of Tesla's new system.
Tesla laughed at the pale
little Mr. Brown in his pinching-tight tails, informing him that he
himself was already a millionaire. Why should he need such an
affiliation at all? He was escorted very graciously by the amused
While dining in the Waldorf several hours later, a rude interruption
informed him that his laboratories were ablaze. The connection
between his refusal to bow and the flames, which now reached
skyward, was not made until all was consumed. That night, the world
changed completely for Nikola Tesla. He lost everything of his past.
Everything. The totality of his technological achievements were
burned into vapor. Books, priceless souvenirs, delicate equipment,
patents, models, drawings, new pieces of apparatus. Everything was
burned. He read the message well.
There was a two-week period where he simply vanished. No one could
find him. Kolman Czito, his trusted technical foreman and machinist
feared for Tesla's life. Katherine Underwood Johnson was beside
herself with anguish. She was the wife of a close friend, the only
real love of Tesla's life. The fire was meant to kill. It was a
message as clear as anyone would need.
The assassination attempt
failed to kill the intended victim. It certainly did not kill his
Wherever he was for those two weeks, the dreams were with him. But a
part of Nikola Tesla died in the fire. It was the part, which was
tied to the past. His eyes on the future, Tesla developed his
discovery into a major technology, which the world seems to have
Of all those who prayed and wept over Tesla's
disappearance, one person was no longer concerned. Never again would
Anne need to be troubled by the thought of Nikola Tesla. His love
was already sealed. Tesla recovered from the flames.
His subsequent discoveries and inventions surpassed his former works
for forty more years; special radiation projectors, self-acting heat
engines, power transmitters, remote control and robotics, the "World
Broadcast System", Beam Broadcast transmitters, "Aetheric reactors
and Aetheric engines", cosmic ray motors, psychotronic television
... the list of astounding inventions is truly awe-inspiring.
demonstrated each of these systems for a select group of witnesses.
Furthermore, despite rumors of his public and scientific demise,
Tesla maintained two penthouse suites atop the Hotel New Yorker in a
time when such extravagance was otherwise unobtainable.
One of these
suites was converted into a complete radio laboratory, several
accoutrements of which having been retrieved by antique radio
enthusiasts. Tesla was an indefatigable researcher.
The biography of Nikola Tesla is replete with truly mysterious designs and
But these are parts of his biography, which must be
told in other volumes.