Nikola Tesla: Humanitarian Genius
Excerpted from Vol 6, No. 4, "Power and Resonance", The Journal of the
International Tesla Society. For further information on the topics
discussed below: The Tesla Book Co., Box 1649, Greenville, Texas 75401
Ask any school kid: "Who invented radio?" If you get an answer at all it
will doubtless be Marconi - an answer with which all the encyclopedias and
textbooks agree. Or ask most anyone: "Who invented the stuff that makes
your toaster, your stereo, the street lights, the factories and offices
work?" Without hesitation, Thomas Edison, right? Wrong both times. The
correct answer is Nikola Tesla, a person you have probably never heard of.
There's more. He appears to have discovered x-rays a year before W. K.
Roentgen did in germany, he built a vacuum tube amplifier several years
before Lee de Forest did, he was using fluorescent lights in his laboratory
40 years before the industry "invented" them, and he demonstrated the
principles used in microwave ovens and radar decades before they became an
integral part of our society. Yet we associate his name with none of them.
For about 20 years around the turn of the century, he was known and respected
in academic circles world wide, corresponding with eminent physicists of his
day, including Albert Einstein, quoted and conferred with on matters of
electrical science, adopted by New York's high society, backed by such
financial and industrial giants as J. P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor, and George
Westinghouse. He counted as friends eminent artists such as Mark Twain and
pianist Ignace Paderewski. His honorary degrees, major prizes (including the
nobel), and other citations number in the dozens.
Tesla was born in Smijlan., Croatia (now part of Yugoslavia) in 1856, the son
of a clergyman and an inventive mother. He had an extraordinary memory, one
that made learning six languages easy for him. He entered the polytechnic
school at Gratz, where for four years he studied mathematics, physics and
mechanics, confounding more than one professor by an understanding of
electricity, an infant science in those days, that was greater than theirs.
His practical career started in 1881 in Budapest, Hungary, where he made his
first electrical invention, a telephone repeater (the ordinary loudspeaker)
and conceived the idea of a rotating magnetic field, which later made him
world famous in its form as the modern induction motor. The polyphase
induction motor is what provides power to virtually every industrial
application, from conveyer belts to winches to machine tools.
Tesla's mental abilities require some mention, since, not only did he have a
photographic memory, he was able to use creative visualization with an
uncanny and practical intensity. He describes in his autobiography how he
was able to visualize a particular apparatus and was then able to actually
test run the apparatus, disassemble it and check for proper action and wear!
During the manufacturing phase of his inventions, he would work with all
blueprints and specifications in his head. The invention invariably assembled
together without redesign and worked perfectly. Tesla slept one to two hours
a day and worked continuously on his inventions and theories without benefit
of ordinary relaxation or vacations. He could judge the dimension of an
object to a hundredth of an inch and perform difficult computations in his
head without benefit of slide rule or mathematical tables. Far from an
ivory tower intellectual, he was very much aware of the issues in the world
around him, made it a point to render his ideas accessable to the general
public by frequent contributions to the popular press, and to his field by
numerous lectures and scientific papers.
He decided to come to this country in 1884. He brought with him the various
models of the first induction motors, which, after a brief and unhappy period
at the Edison works, were eventually shown to George Westinghouse. It was
in the Westinghouse shops that the induction motor was perfected. Numerous
patents were taken out on this prime invention, all under Tesla's name.
Tesla worked briefly for Thomas Edison when he first came to the United
States, creating many improvements on Edison's DC motors and generators, but
left under a cloud of controversy after Edison refused to live up to bonus
and royalty commitments. This was the beginning of a rivalry which was to
have ugly consequences later when Edison and his backers did everything in
their power to stop the development and installation of Tesla's far more
efficient and practical AC current delivery system and urban power grid.
Edison put together a traveling road show which attempted to portray AC
current as dangerous, even to the point of electrocuting animals both small
(puppies) and large (in one case an elephant) in front of large audiences.
as a result of this propaganda crusade, the state of New York adopted AC
electrocution as its method of executing convicts. Tesla won the battle by
the demonstration of AC current's safety and usefulness when his apparatus
illuminated and powered the entire New York World's Fair of 1899.
Tesla's most important work at the end of the nineteenth century was his
original system of transmission of energy by wireless antenna. In 1900 Tesla
obtained his two fundamental patents on the transmission of true wireless
energy covering both methods and apparatus and involving the use of four
tuned circuits. In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States granted full
patent rights to Nikola Tesla for the invention of the radio, superseding and
nullifying any prior claim by Marconi and others in regards to the
"fundamental radio patent". It is interesting to note that Tesla, in 1898,
described the transmission of not only the human voice, but images as well
and later designed and patented devices that evolved into the power supplies
that operate our present day TV picture tubes. The first primitive radar
installations in 1934 were built following principles, mainly regarding
frequency and power level, that were stated by Tesla in 1917.
In 1889 tesla constructed an experimental station in Colorado Springs where
he studied the characteristics of high frequency or radio frequency
alternating currents. While there he developed a powerful radio transmitter
of unique design and also a number of receivers "for individualizing and
isolating the energy transmitted". He conducted experiments designed to
establish the laws of radio propagation which are currently being
"rediscovered" and verified amid some controversy in high energy quantum
Tesla wrote in Century Magazine in 1900: "...that communication without wires
to any point of the globe is practicable. My experiments showed that the air
at the ordinary pressure became distinctly conducting, and this opened up the
wonderful prospect of transmitting large amounts of electrical energy for
industrial purposes to great distances without wires...its practical
consummation would mean that energy would be available for the uses of man at
any point of the globe. I can conceive of no technical advance which would
tend to unite the various elements of humanity more effectively than this
one, or of one which would more add to and more economize human energy..."
This was written in 1900! After finishing preliminary testing, work was begun
on a full sized broadcasting station at Shoreham, Long Island. Had it gone
into operation, it would have been able to provide usable amounts of
electrical power at the receiving circuits. After construction of a generator
building (still standing) and a 180 foot broadcasting tower (dynamited in
World War 1 on the dubious pretext of being a potential navigation reference
for german U-boats), financial support for the project was suddenly withdrawn
by J. P. Morgan when it became apparent that such a worldwide power project
couldn't be metered and charged for.
Another one of Tesla's inventions that is familiar to anyone who has ever
owned an automobile, was patented in 1898 under the name "electrical ignitor
for gas engines". More commonly known as the automobile ignition system, its
major component, the ignition coil, remains practically unchanged since its
introduction into use at the turn of the century.
Nikola Tesla also designed and built prototypes of a unique fuel burning
rotary engine based upon his earlier design for a rotary pump. Recent tests
that have been carried out on the Tesla bladeless disk turbine indicate that,
if constructed using newly developed high temperature ceramic materials, it
will rank as the world's most efficient gas engine, out-performing our
present day piston type internal combustion engines in fuel efficiency,
longevity, adaptability to different fuels, cost and power to weight ratio.
Tesla's generosity eventually left him without adequate funds to pursue and
realize his inventions. His idealism and humanism left him with little
stomach for the world of industrial and financial intrigue. His New York
laboratory was destroyed by a mysterious fire. References to his work and
accomplishments were systematically purged from the scientific literature and
textbooks. Driven into a hermetic exile in a New York hotel during the period
between the two wars, 20 years of his potentially rich and productive
contribution were taken from us. The only occasions of public appearance were
the yearly press interview on his birthday when he would describe amazing and
far reaching inventions and technological possibilities. These were distorted
and sensationalized in the popular press, particularly when he described
advanced weapons systems on the eve of World War II. He died in obscurity in
1943. Only the FBI took note: they searched his papers (in vain) for the
design of the "death-ray machine". It is interesting to note that the
motivation for our "Star Wars" defense system was based upon fears that the
soviets had begun deployment of weapons based upon Tesla high energy
principles. Public reports of mysterious "blindings" of U.S. surveillance
satellites, anomalous high altitude flashes and fireballs, elf wave radio
interference, and other cases lend credence to this interpretation.
Credit must be given where credit is due for the labor saving and
humanitarian inventions such as universal AC current that have been
incorporated into the very fabric of our daily lives and also the devices
who's design have been made available, but have not been utilized by society
Short History of Nikola Tesla
This is a file to straighten out misconception and disinformation that
has occurred over the years, about how supposedly "great" Edison was, and how
Nikola Tesla was brushed under the capitalist power rug.
Edison was a thief, employing all kinds of people for their brains, he
stole their inventions, their ideas, so much so, that it is unclear today
what Edison actually invented, and what was stolen from others.
The Edison Electric Institute was formed to perpetuate the notion that
Edison was the inventor of the record, and to make sure that school
textbooks, etc., only mentioned HIM in connection with these many inventions. Much like
Bell Labs does today.
Nikola Tesla was pretty much always a genius, after having made many
improvements in the electric trolleys, and trains in his country, he came to
America, sought employment, and eventually ended up working for Edison.
Edison had contracted with New York City to build Direct Current (D.C.)
power plants every square mile or so, so as to power the lights that he
supposedly invented. Street lights, hotel lighting etc. Having trenches dug
throughout the city to lay the cables, copper, and as big around as a man's
bicep, he told Tesla that if Tesla could save him money by redesigning
certain aspects of the installation, that he would give Tesla a percentage
of the savings. A verbal agreement. After approximately a year, Tesla went to
Edison's office and showed him the savings that had occurred ($100,000 or so,
which in those days was quite a piece of change) as a direct result of his
(Tesla's) engineering, and Edison pretended ignorance of any agreement. Tesla
quit. From that point on, the two men were enemies.
Tesla invented useable Alternating Current (A.C.) that we all use today,
in a world where Edison and others already had a huge investment in D.C.
Tesla proselytized A.C. power and had some success building A.C. power
plants, and providing A.C. power to various entities. One of these was Sing
Sing prison, in upstate New York. Tesla provided A.C. power for the "electric
chair" there. Edison had big articles printed in the New York newspapers,
saying that A.C. power was dangerous "killing" power, and in general, gave a
bad name to Tesla.
To contradict this jab, Tesla set out on his own positive marketing
campaign, appearing at the 1880? World Exposition in Chicago passing high
frequency "dangerous" A.C. power over his body to power light bulbs in front
of the public. Shooting huge, long sparks from his "Tesla coil", and touching
them, etc. "Proving" that A.C. power was safe for public consumption.
The advantage of A.C. power was that you could send it a long distance
through reasonably sized wires with little loss, and if you touched the wires
together, "shorted them", you got a lot of sparks, and only the place where
they were touching melted until the two wires weren't touching anymore.
D.C. power, on the other hand, needed huge cables to go any distance at
all, while using power, the cables heated up. When shorted, the cables melted
all the way back to the power house, streets had to be dug up again and new
cables laid. If a short occurred in a single light, it usually started a
fire, and burned down the hotel or destroyed whatever it was in contact with!
This was quite profitable for those in the D.C. power business, and quite
good for those into ditch digging, construction, etc.
Tesla invented 2-phase, and 3-phase Alternating Current. He figured
motors turned in a circle, so alternately driving separate, 180 degree,
sections of the surrounding armature would build up less heat, and use less
electricity. He was right.
1929 came, the stock market crashed, bankers, lawyers, everyone who had
lost their wealth and hadn't jumped out a window, sought work, many as common
laborers if lucky, for a dollar a day. Tesla found himself digging ditches in
the company of broke but influential ex-Wall-streeters. During the short
lunch period, he would tell his buddies about phased A.C. electricity, and
how it was efficient, etc. Along about 1932, he was working at a small
generator rebuilding shop in New York, and one of the bankers that he used
to dig ditches with, found him, and took him to Mr. Westinghouse, to whom he
told his stories. Westinghouse bought 19 patents outright, and gave Tesla a
dollar per horsepower for any electric motor produced by Westinghouse using
the Tesla 3-phase system.
Tesla finally had the money with which to start building his
laboratories, 5, and conducting the experiments with free earth energy. The
idea that really made him unpopular.
Something free, that the masters of war and business couldn't control?
They couldn't have that! So, the day after Tesla died in 1943, his huge
laboratory on Long Island mysteriously burned down, no records saved, and the
remnants were bulldozed the day after that to further eradicate any equipment
still left. So much for "free energy".
THE GREATEST HACKER OF ALL TIME
by Dave Small
(c) 1987 Reprinted from Current Notes magazine.
The question comes up from time to time. "Who's the greatest hacker
ever?" Well, there's a lot of different opinions on this. Some say Steve
Wozniak of Apple II fame. Maybe Andy Hertzfeld of the Mac operating system.
Richard Stallman, say others, of MIT. Yet at such times when I mention who I
think the greatest hacker is, everyone agrees (provided they know of him),
and there's no further argument. So, let me introduce you to him, and his
greatest hack. I'll warn you right up front that it's mind numbing. By the
way, everything I'm going to tell you is true and verifiable down at your
local library. Don't worry -- we're not heading off into a Shirley MacLaine
UFO-landing story. Just some classy electrical engineering...
THE SCENE: COLORADO SPRINGS, CO.
Colorado Springs is in southern Colorado, about 70 miles south of Denver.
These days it is known as the home of several optical disk research
corporations and of NORAD, the missile defense command under Cheyenne
Mountain. (I have a personal interest in Colorado Springs; my wife Sandy grew
up there.) These events took place some time ago in Colorado Springs. A
scientist had moved into town and set up a laboratory on Hill Street, on the
southern outskirts. The lab had a two hundred foot copper antenna sticking up
out of it, looking something like a HAM radio enthusiast's antenna. He moved
in and started work. And strange electrical things happened near that lab.
People would walk near the lab, and sparks would jump up from the ground to
their feet, through the soles of their shoes.
One boy took a screwdriver, held it near a fire hydrant, and drew a four inch
electrical spark from the hydrant. Sometimes the grass around his lab would
glow with an eerie blue corona, St. Elmo's Fire. What they didn't know was
this was small stuff. The man in the lab was merely tuning up his apparatus.
He was getting ready to run it wide open in an experiment that ranks as among
the greatest, and most spectacular, of all time. One side effect of his
experiment was the setting of the record for man-made lightning: some 42
meters in length (130 feet).
THE MAN: NIKOLA TESLA.
His name was Nikola Tesla. He was an immigrant from what is now Yugoslavia;
there's a museum of his works in Belgrade. He's a virtual unknown in the
United States, despite his accomplishments. I'm not sure why. Some people
feel it's a dark plot, the same people who are into conspiracy theories. I
feel it's more that Tesla, while a brilliant inventor, was also an awful
businessman; he ended up going broke. Businessmen who go broke fade out of
the public eye; we see this in the computer industry all the time. Edison,
who wasn't near the inventor Tesla was, but who was a better businessman, is
well remembered as is his General Electric. Still, let me list a few of
Tesla's works just so you'll understand how bright he was. He invented the AC
motor and transformer. (Think of every motor in your house.) He invented
3-phase electricity and popularized alternating current, the electrical
distribution system used all over the world. He invented the Tesla Coil,
which makes the high voltage that drives the picture tube in your computer's
CRT. He is now credited with inventing modern radio as well; the Supreme
Court overturned Marconi's patent in 1943 in favor of Tesla.
Tesla, in short, invented much of the equipment that gets power to your
home every day from miles away, and many that use that power inside your
home. His inventions made George Westinghouse (Westinghouse Corp.) a wealthy
man. Finally, the unit of magnetic flux in the metric system is the "tesla".
Other units include the "faraday" and the "henry", so you'll understand this
is an honor given to few. So we're not talking about an unknown here, but
rather a solid electrical engineer. Tesla whipped through a number of
inventions early in his life. He found himself increasingly interested in
resonance, and in particular, electrical resonance. Tesla found out something
fascinating. If you set an electrical circuit to resonating, it does strange
things indeed. Take for instance his Tesla Coil. This high frequency step-up
transformer would kick out a few hundred thousand volts at radio frequencies.
The voltage would come off the top of his coil as a "corona", or brush
discharge. The little ones put out a six-inch spark; the big ones throw
sparks many feet long. Yet Tesla could draw the sparks to his fingers without
being hurt -- the high frequency of the electricity keeps it on the surface
of the skin, and prevents the current from doing any harm. Tesla got to
thinking about resonance on a large scale. He'd already pioneered the
electrical distribution system we use today, and that's not small thinking;
when you think of Tesla, think big. He thought, let's say I send an
electrical charge into the ground. What happens to it? Well, the ground is an
excellent conductor of electricity. Let me spend a moment on this so you
understand, because topsoil doesn't seem very conductive to most. The ground
makes a wonderful sinkhole for electricity. This is why you "ground" power
tools; the third (round) pin in every AC outlet in your house is wired
straight to, literally, the ground. Typically, the handle of your power tool
is hooked to ground; this way, if something shorts out in the tool and the
handle gets electrified, the current rushes to the ground instead of into
you. The ground has long been used in this manner, as a conductor. Tesla
generates a powerful pulse of electricity, and drains it into the ground.
Because the ground is conductive, it doesn't stop. Rather, it spreads out
like a radio wave, traveling at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second.
And it keeps going, because it's a powerful wave; it doesn't peter out after
a few miles. It passes through the iron core of the earth with little
trouble. After all, molten iron is very conductive. When the wave reaches the
far side of the planet, it bounces back, like a wave in water bounces when it
reaches an obstruction. Since it bounces, it makes a return trip; eventually,
it returns to the point of origin. Now, this idea might seem wild. But it
isn't science fiction. We bounced radar beams off the moon in the 1950's, and
we mapped Venus by radar in the 1970's. Those planets are millions of miles
away. The earth is a mere 3000 miles in diameter; sending an electromagnetic
wave through it is a piece of cake. We can sense earthquakes all the way
across the planet by the vibrations they set up that travel all that
distance. So, while at first thought it seems amazing, it's really pretty
straight forward. But, as I said, it's a typical example of how Tesla
thought. And then he had one of his typically Tesla ideas. He thought, when
the wave returns to me (about 1/30th of a second after he sends it in), it's
going to be considerably weakened by the trip. Why doesn't he send in another
charge at this point, to strengthen the wave? The two will combine, go out,
and bounce again. And then he'll reinforce it again, and again. The wave will
build up in power. It's like pushing a swingset. You give a series of small
pushes each time the swing goes out. And you build up a lot of power with a
series of small pushes; ever tried to stop a swing when it's going full tilt?
He wanted to find out the upper limit of resonance. And he was in for a
THE HACK: THE TESLA COIL
So Tesla moved into Colorado Springs, where one of his generators and
electrical systems had been installed, and set up his lab. Why Colorado
Springs? Well, his lab in New York had burned down, and he was depressed
about that. And as fate would have it, a friend in Colorado Springs who
directed the power company, Leonard Curtis, offered him free electricity. Who
could resist that? After setting up his lab, he tuned his gigantic Tesla coil
through that year, trying to get it to resonate perfectly with the earth
below. And the townspeople noticed those weird effects; Tesla was
electrifying the ground beneath their feet on the return bounce of the wave.
Eventually, he got it tuned, keeping things at low power. But in the spirit
of a true hacker, just once he decided to run it wide open, just to see what
would happen. Just what was the upper limit of the wave he would build up,
bouncing back and forth in the planet below? He had his Coil hooked to the
ground below it, the 200 foot antenna above it, and getting as much
electricity as he wanted right off the city power supply mains. Tesla went
outside to watch (wearing three inch rubber soles for insulation) and had his
assistant, Kolman Czito, turn the Coil on. There was a buzz from rows of oil
capacitors, and a roar from the spark gap as wrist-thick arcs jumped across
it. Inside the lab the noise was deafening. But Tesla was outside, watching
the antenna. Any surge that returned to the area would run up the antenna and
jump off as lightning. Off the top of the antenna shot a six foot lightning
bolt. The bolt kept going in a steady arc, though, unlike a single lightning
flash. And here Tesla watched carefully, for he wanted to see if the power
would build up, if his wave theory would work. Soon the lightning was twenty
feet long, then fifty. The surges were growing more powerful. Eighty feet --
now thunder was following each lightning bolt. A hundred feet, a hundred
twenty feet; the lightning shot upwards off the antenna. Thunder was heard
booming around Tesla now (it was heard 22 miles away, in the town of Cripple
Creek). The meadow Tesla was standing in was lit up with an electrical
discharge very much like St. Elmo's Fire, casting a blue glow. His theory had
worked! There didn't seem to be an upper limit to the surges; he was creating
the most powerful electrical surges ever created by man. That moment he set
the record, which he still holds, for manmade lightning. Then everything
halted. The lightning discharges stopped, the thunder quit. He ran in, found
the power company had turned off his power feed. He called them, shouted at
them -- they were interrupting his experiment! The foreman replied that Tesla
had just overloaded the generator and set it on fire, his lads were busy
putting out the fire in the windings, and it would be a cold day in hell
before Tesla got any more free power from the Colorado Springs power company!
All the lights in Colorado Springs had gone out. And that, readers, is to
me the greatest hack in history. I've seen some amazing hacks. The 8-bit
Atari OS. The Mac OS. The phone company computers -- well, lots of computers.
But I've never seen anyone set the world's lightning record and shut off the
power to an entire town, "just to see what would happen". For a few moments,
there in Colorado Springs, he achieved something never before done. He had
used the entire planet as a conductor, and sent a pulse through it. In that
one moment in the summer of 1899, he made electrical history. That's right,
in 1899 -- darn near a hundred years ago. Well, you may say to yourself,
that's a nice story, and I'm sure George Lucas could make a hell of a movie
about it, special effects and all. But it's not relevant today. Or isn't it?
Hang on to your hat.
THE SDI AND THE TESLA COIL
Last month we talked about an amazing hack that Nikola Tesla did --
bouncing an electrical wave through the planet, in 1899, and setting the
world's record for manmade lightning. This month,let me lay a little
political groundwork. Last October I attended Hackercon 2.0, another
gathering of computer hackers from all over. It was an informal weekend at a
camp in the hills west of Santa Clara. One of the more interesting memories
of Hackers 2.0 were the numerous diatribes against the Strategic Defense
Initiative. Most speakers claimed it was impossible, citing technical
problems. So many people felt obligated to complain about SDI that the
conference was jokingly called "SDIcon 2.0". Probably the high(?) point of
the conference was Jerry Pournelle and Timothy Leary up on stage debating
SDI. I'll leave the description to your imagination -- it was everything you
can think of and more. Personally, I was disturbed to see how many gifted
hackers adopting the attitude of "let's not even try". That's not how micros
got started. I mentioned to one Time magazine journalist that if anyone could
make SDI go, it was the hackers gathered there. I also believe that the
greatest hacker of them all, Nikola Tesla, solved the SDI technical problem
back in 1899. The event was so long ago, and so amazing, that it's pretty
much been forgotten; I described it last issue. Let me present my case for
the Tesla Coil and SDI.
SOVIET USE OF THE TESLA COIL
You will recall I said that Tesla was born in Yugoslavia (although back
then, it was "Serbo-Croatia"). He is not unknown there; he is regarded as a
national hero. Witness the Nikola Tesla museum in Belgrade, for instance.
There's been interferences picked up, on this side of the planet, which is
causing problems in the ham radio bands. Direction finding equipment has
traced the interference in the SW band to two sources in the Soviet Union,
which are apparently two high powered Tesla Coils. Why on earth are the
Soviets playing with Tesla Coils? There's one odd theory that they're
subjecting Canada to low level electrical interference to cause attitude
change. Sigh. Moving right along, there's another theory, more credible, that
they are conducting research in "over the horizon" radar using Tesla's ideas.
(The Soviets are certainly not saying what they're doing.) When I read about
this testing, it worried me. I don't think they're playing with attitude
control or radar. I think they're doing exactly what Tesla did in Colorado
COMPUTERS AND GROUNDING
Time for another discussion of grounding. Consider your computer
equipment. You've doubtlessly been warned about static electricity, always
been told to ground yourself (thus discharging the static into the ground, an
electrical sinkhole) before touching your computer. Companies make anti-
static spray for your rugs. Static is in the 20,000 to 50,000 volt range.
Computer chips run on five to twelve volts. The internal insulation is built
for that much voltage. When they get a shot of static in the multiple
thousand volt range, the insulation is punctured, and the chip ruined.
Countless computers have been damaged this way. Read any manual on inserting
memory chips to a PC, and you'll see warnings about static; it's a big
problem. Now Tesla was working in the millions of volts range. And his
special idea -- that the ground itself could be the conductor -- now comes
into relevance, nearly a hundred years after his dramatic demonstration in
Colorado Springs. For, you see, in our wisdom we've grounded our many
computers, to protect them from static. We've always assumed the ground is an
electrical sinkhole. So, with our three-pin plugs we ground everything -- the
two flat pins in your wall go to electricity (hot and neutral); the third,
round pin, goes straight to ground. That third pin is usually hooked with a
thick wire to a cold water pipe, which grounds it effectively. Tesla proved
that you can give that ground a terrific charge, millions of volts of high
frequency electricity. (Tesla ran his large coil at 33 Khz). Remember, the
lightning surging off his Coil was coming from the wave bouncing back and
forth in the planet below. In short, he was modifying the ground's electrical
potential, changing it from an electrical sinkhole to an electrical source.
Tesla did his experiment in 1899. There weren't any home computers with
delicate chips hooked up to grounds then. If there had been, he'd have fried
everything in Colorado Springs. There was, however, one piece of electrical
equipment grounded at the time of the experiment, the city power generator.
It caught fire and ended Tesla's experiment. The cause of its failure is
interesting as well. It died from "high frequency kickback", something most
electrical engineers know about. Tesla forgot that as the generator fed him
power, he was feeding it high frequency from his Coil. High frequency quickly
heats insulation; a microwave oven works on the same principle. In a few
minutes, the insulation inside that generator grew so hot that the generator
caught fire. When the lights went out all over Colorado Springs, there was
the first proof that Tesla's idea has strategic possibilities. It gets
scarier. Imagine Tesla's Coil, busily pumping an electrical wave in the
Earth. On his side of the planet, he was getting 130 foot sparks, which is a
hell of a lot of voltage and current. And simple wave theory will show you
that those sort of potentials exist on the far side of the planet as well.
Remember, the wave was bouncing back and forth, being reinforced on every
trip. The big question is how focused the opposite electrical pole will be.
No one knows. But it seems probable that the far side of the planet's ground
target area could be subjected to considerable electrical interference. And
if computer equipment is plugged in at that ground, faithfully assuming the
ground will never be a source of electricity, it's just too bad for that
equipment. This sort of electrical interference makes static look tiny by
comparison. It doesn't take much difference in ground potential to kill a
computer connected across it. Lightning strikes cause a temporary flare in
ground voltage; I remember replacing driver chips on a network on all
computers that had been caught by one lightning strike, when I lived in
Austin. Imagine the effect on relatively delicate electronics if someone
fires up a Tesla Coil on the far side of the planet, and subjects the grounds
to steep electrical swings. The military applications are pretty obvious --
those ICBM's in North Dakota, for instance. It's possible they could be
damaged in their silos, and from thousands of miles away. Running two or more
Coils, you don't have to be exactly on the far side of the planet, either.
Interference effects can give you high points where you need with varied
tunings. Maybe, just maybe, the Soviets aren't doing "over the horizon"
radar. Maybe they just bothered to read Tesla's notes. And maybe they are
tuning up a real big surprise with their twin Coils.
"STAR WARS" AND THE TESLA COIL
You've heard of the Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars". We're
searching for a way to stop a nuclear attack. Right now, we've got all sorts
of high powered research projects, with the emphasis on "new technology".
Excimer laser, kinetic kill techniques, and even more exotic ideas. As any of
you know that have written computer programs, it's darned hard to get
something "new" to work. Maybe it's an error to focus on "new" exclusively.
Wouldn't it be something if the solution to SDI lies a hundred years ago, in
the forgotten brilliance of Nikola Tesla? For right now we can immobilize the
electronics of installations half a planet away. The technology to do it was
achieved in 1899, and promptly forgotten. Remember, we're not talking vague,
unproven theories here. We're talking the world's record for lightning, and
the inventor whose power system lights up your house at night.
THE TESLA COIL WORKS.
All we'd have to do is build it. You might not believe the story about
Tesla in Colorado Springs, and what he did. It's pretty amazing. It has a
way of being forgotten because of that. And I'm not sure you want to hear
about the SDI connection. Still, as you work on a computer, remember Tesla.
His Tesla Coil supplies the high voltage for the picture tube you use. The
electricity for your computer comes from a Tesla design AC generator, is sent
through a Tesla transformer, and gets to your house through 3-phase Tesla
power. Tesla's inventions... they have a way of working..