His aim is to gather , signatures. Although it sounds like a formidable number, he's got 37, already. These signatures are gathered not only by professional institutions, colleges and universities, but by people who are attending the rock concerts by the "Tesla" group. They've actually been responsible for 70 to 75 percent of those signatures. The way they're going, they WILL collect the , Figure 2. John Wagner's bust of Tesla in his late thirties. Incidentally, over of these items have already been sold, with all proceeds over actual costs going into a fund for the purchase of additional busts.
Further, John has been carrying on an effort to enlist the support of university level educational institutions to properly recognize the scientific contributions of Nikola Tesla. Those are going to be in Serbo-Croatian, but probably will be subtitled in English. In addition, a minute fully English language film version is planned to be available. I understand that three of the six, minute segments are already in the can and that they are aiming for a screening date which will commemorate his th birth date anniversary. I know of at least two other partially funded videos for public TV that are in the pre- production stage.
Another book is being written by Dusko Doder, a very prominent newspaperman. He has already published a book which has been quite successful, called "Gorbachev: Heretic In The Kremlin" which has been well received and is now starting on a biography of Tesla. A third book, by a young woman, Carol Costa, is a biography that is oriented toward youngsters, that is now in the process of being published.
Klami, is a dramatization of crucial events Tesla's younger life. It has had several professional readings and a commercial production is being organized. I don't know whether it will appear on Broadway, but it will appear someplace. It is available in the bookstore. It's a good solid piece of scholarship.
The Nikola Tesla Museum Dr. Marincic will be speaking later in the program and will discuss the Tesla Museum in Belgrade. I think this is important because the archives are there and climate control in that building has to be very carefully monitored. Also in Belgrade, the power generating companies of Yugoslavia have organized their new institute for research.
It's in a new building and named "The Tesla Institute," as are most of the power companies in Yugoslavia named after Tesla. Long Term Projects The Tesla Memorial Society has three long term projects that are not expected to happen right away and are going to require a lot of long term effort.
First, there is solid planning going ahead for a museum at Niagara Falls which will incorporate some of the subterranean tunneling that was done for the original power installation Figure 4. There are still remnants of the old power plant down there and it can make an interesting tourist attraction, almost like investigating tombs or something of that sort. It has all been sealed up for decades. These tunnels can be the basis for a tourist attraction that will certainly mention Tesla prominently. The foundation of the tower is still there and the old laboratory building next to it is intact and being used for storage.
We are trying to get a formal dedication of that site. The building and surrounding complex is privately owned by Agfa- Gevaert, the big Belgian photochemical company, and is no longer used for production.
It's a large industrial complex of many acres, and the site occupies only one acre or so on the side, so we may have a possibility of getting their cooperation. It won't happen overnight, that's for sure. Of course we're looking forward to , the 50th Anniversary of Tesla's death, as an appropriate time to have an exhibition at the Smithsonian. Because of the bent of the Smithsonian, that's going to take a lot of work, but I think something will happen and we're marshalling our forces.
Figure 3. I happened to acquire a copy of the very enlightening promotional brochure from the Niagara Falls Power Company, that was made as a presentation in getting new subscribers to their system. This was the culmination of three years of design and construction.
By , according to this booklet, the Niagara Falls Power Company the predecessor of the Niagara Mohawk Company had about 45, Effective Horsepower capacity and was marketing this new source of power to industries and municipalities in the area. In their brochure, they reviewed the quantity of power used and the applications for each of about 35 customers that they identified by name. By today's standards the quantities seem trivial but, as with the dollar, in a Horsepower WAS a Horsepower.
They were using 5, horsepower for the electrolytic production of metallic aluminum. They were the largest commercial user as opposed to municipalities. Carborundum, who used 2, horsepower for electrolytic production of abrasives. A company called Castner Electrolytic Alkali Company there is a chemical process called the Castner Process used 2, horsepower for electrolytic production of pure caustic soda.
Union Carbide was making calcium carbide, using the power for electric furnaces. Figure 4. Their plant is still standing there very close to the Falls. About 1 , horsepower was being carried to Buffalo and to nearby points, principally used either for lighting, electric railroads or electric traction companies.
A small portion was also being sold to manufacturing companies. It made such a change. That availability of cheap and clean electric power alone provided jobs for about 10, Niagara Falls people besides the people outside of Niagara Falls. It turned Niagara Falls from a town of about 10, people into a city of about 40, Most of the companies that were in distant areas, instead of using electrolytic processes where, what were then, massive quantities of electrical energy were needed, were only using from 20 to horsepower apiece, principally for running industrial machinery in factories.
This was, of course, the first practical large scale application of the Tesla Alternating Current concept and was an event that was heard around the world. Demand was terrific. By , it had already exceeded , horsepower. The Adams Power Station, the first power station when it was completed in 1 , was by far the largest producer of Alternating Current in the world.
It is the remnants of that plant that were dedicated as an Engineering Milestone just last June. Much has been written about the public persona of Nikola Tesla, usually dealing with the creation and implementation of his inventions and discoveries. They show a man of intellect, dedication and perseverance, but an over abundance of these quantities creates a picture of a somber and sober person with a single-mindedness that seems to preclude a more human side. Much has also been speculated on the private side of Nikola Tesla.
This speculation was much influenced by his fastidious dress, his formal manners and his precise writing style. Aside from the more outrageous speculations, the conclusion was usually drawn that this was an introverted and driven workaholic, without a fully developed personal side. However, put in the context of the times, dress, manners and precision in writing were really hallmarks of the decades on either side of the turn of the century. We have very few instances of verifiable anecdotes from his closest friends because such gossip rarely found its way into print.
What a change from today's celebrity bashing. But, in context or out of context, these characterizations of Tesla's private personality have been perpetuated. Figure 5. The parallels in their lives far exceed the common gene pool formed by their blood relationship. My Grandmother was Tesla's sister, Angelina. Except for being 30 years apart, the list of parallels is really staggering: Lika, the Croatian county of their birth in what is now Yugoslavia, had a special status and responsibility for Serbs as it was part of the Austro-Hungarian military frontier.
The Ottoman Empire's boarder was that close to Vienna, a situation that lasted for a period of hundreds of years. I don't know if anybody here is Serbian Orthodox, I'd like to say that I'm Episcopal for that very good reason. Both received a technical education far from home, which was necessary in those days.
There was no higher education readily available in the provinces. You had to go, as in my fathers case, to Budapest. Both became engineers and worked for similar lengths of time for the Budapest Telephone System. Doth emigrated to the United States at 28 years of age.
And, as inventors, made their most important inventions in their middle to late thirties. Both exhibited qualities of dedication and patience and modesty and a philosophical turn of mind.
Nikola Tesla: Strange Genius
Both were strong and vigorous and died at the age of eighty seven. But, both suffered from a certain naivete, particularly in business. Both acquired, but let slip from their hands, a considerable fortune. Now, I knew my father pretty well, even better from the perspective of the years since his passing And 1 see a human being with human qualities and frailties, and it seems reasonable to attribute to Tesla some measure of these same qualities and frailties.
This brings me to an unexpected point. My father had a sense of humor and therefore, Tesla must have had a sense of humor that has been overlooked in the myth of his private self. There certainly aren't any books that are titled "Favorite Jokes of Nikola Tesla". My father was a story teller, and usually was recalling things that happened when he was a boy. I heard them all dozens of times.
I can't repeat them because they'd lose their essence in his way of telling them but my father could never finish these stories without collapsing in laughter. He would get into the memory of some story and would just get helpless with laughter. We all knew what the end of it was and he'd struggle through ultimately. It was an infectious laugh and we didn't mind the same old stories. I still remember them clearly. And so, in closing, I just want to say that I've taken a long way around, and had a chance to remember my father.
But the next time that you think of Nikola Tesla, that discoverer of great concepts, think of him convulsed in gales of laughter, trying to tell some boyhood yarn. Terbo in Detroit, Michigan, William H. His father, Nicholas Terbo Nikola Trbojevich , a world known research engineer, mathemati- cian nd inventor, was nephew and friend of Nikola Tesla. Trbojevich held nearly U. Terbo's father modeled his professional life after Nikola Tesla, a man 30 years his senior. He was the only family member to join Tesla in the United States, immigrating in , 30 years after his uncle.
With such a family history in science and engineering, Mr. Terbo's higher education was a matter of "which engineering school" rather than "what area of concentration. Terbo began his professional career as a Stress Analyst in Detroit before moving to Los Angeles where he specialized in computer oriented systems for the Space Program. Is this energy static or kinetic? If static, our hopes are in vain; if kinetic — and this we know it is for certain — then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of Nikola Tesla, "Experiments With Alternate Currents of High Potential and High Frequency," In a young Croatian immigrant stepped ashore at the Castle Garden Immigration Office in Manhattan, New York.
He was a sharp-featured year-old with a glamorous shock of black hair, named Nikola Tesla. In his coat pockets he carried a few coins, some papers with drawings and calculations on them and, perhaps most importandy of all, a letter of introduction to Thomas Alva Edison, the incumbent king of electricity.
Behind Tesla there was already an extraordinaiy past filled with invention, hardship and a series of near fatal accidents and afflictions. Ahead of him lay a future in which many of the things he had already imagined would come to pass for the benefit of the world. And yet his greatest wish — of freely available electrical energy for all — would be denied him. Blessed with an extraordinary mind capable of extravagant and yet detailed visual imagination, Tesla was a complex prodigy who suffered from strange over-sensitivities and symptoms of what we would now call an obsessive compulsive disorder.
As well as one of the most highly developed forms of photographic memory, Tesla claimed to possess a superhuman, almost supernatural, power of hearing which enabled him to hear conversations hundreds of yards away and - in a few instances - to hear thunder up to miles away. During a teenage nervous breakdown Tesla could hardly go out of his home, as he had become hyperaware of sounds, atmospheric pressures and sunlight. He seemed to feel the impact of natural phenomena directly within his body. His compulsive side brought long periods of needing to count physical actions he performed - steps along a road, mouthfuls of food, even breaths: he behaved like a self-monitoring machine, a mobile laboratoiy which his psyche had decided to investigate.
Later, when he was able to bring the exercise of his will power to bear over these compulsions, he would make good use of this internal observation. Invention came naturally to Tesla from an early age. When he was five he modelled a waterwheel which worked without the use of any conventional blades; he was later to recall this when he designed his bladeless turbine  He designed a device in which imprisoned beetles powered a wheel with the flapping of their wings.
He tried to fly from the top of the family house using an umbrella - a feat which nearly killed him. He tried to take apart and reconstruct his grandfather's clocks, a skill which had its limits: "hi the former I was always successful, but often failed in the latter. He was determined to complete the two-year course in one year, and worked most days from three in the morning until eleven at night.
One aspect of his compulsion was a need to complete anything he had started. While it later became a helpful force within his creative production, it often drove him to despair. At college he had started to read the works of Voltaire when he discovered that there were nearly one hundred volumes in small print. Such was the strange conscience of his psyche that he could not rest until all were read.
It was during his time at Graz that his ideas about alternating current first started to surface. Professor Poeschl, a German, was Tesla's inspirational teacher of theoretical and experimental physics. One day Poeschl showed the class anew electrical machine that had just arrived from Paris: called a Gramme Machine, it could function as both a direct current DC motor and a dynamo.
Tesla reported later that he felt strangely excited by the machine's arrival. When it was operating the machine's brushes sparked wildly. Tesla suggested to his teacher that the machine could be improved if the commutator were done away with, and if it were to run instead by alternating current. He didn"t know how this might be done, and yet he had an instinct that somehow the answer might lie within his own mind. The professor was less confident: "Mr Tesla may accomplish great things but he will never do this. It would be equivalent to converting a steadily pulling force, like gravity, into a rotary effort.
It is a perpetual motion machine, an impossible idea. I knew that I would perish if failed. He was taking a walk in Graz"s city park with Anital Szigety, a mechanic friend, at the same time reciting a passage from Goethe"s Faust. Then, as Tesla reported it: "The idea came like a flash of lightning, and in an instant the truth was revealed. The rotating magnetic field completely did away with the need for the conventional brush contacts and commutator of the normal DC motor. In his creative flash he had discovered multiphase alternating current AC - a leap forward which would make possible the high-voltage widescale generation, transmission and distribution of electricity that is still the worldwide standard today.
In that same moment he had also shown Professor Poeschl the error of his skeptical ways. Over the next days, Tesla designed most of the new machines and devices required by the multiphase AC system: particularly the induction motor and all the equipment required for the generation and supply of AC electricity.
He wrote of his work: "It was a mental state of happiness about as complete as I have ever known in life. Ideas came in an interrupted stream, and the only difficulty I had was to hold them fast. I delighted in imagining the motors constantly running. Instead of building real, physical devices, he would usually design and construct them in the workshop of his creative imagination.
In this virtual testbed, he would set them running, later returning to see what had happened, what had 40 worn or broken down, what had functiones correcdy or incorrecdy. He would then make imaginative improvements in order to make the devices more efficient or effective, before continuing this refining process. When he was absolutely happy with his mental creation, he would then, and only then, commit his idea to physical reality. It was this gift above all others that enabled him to be so prolific as an inventor.
When in the confident Tesla set off for America, however, with the AC system and its components firmly embedded in his mind, he had little idea of the difficult path that lay between him and acceptance of his technology - a path that threatened to both make and break the young Tesla. Already the inventor of hundreds of products and the owner or co-owner of many electrically related companies, Edison was a self-educated genius with the street smart of an alley cat. Tesla presented his letter of recommendation to the short-tempered Edison - a letter from Charles Batchelor, one of Edison's trusted officers in Europe.
The note, addressed to Edison, was entirely flattering: "I know two great men and you are one of them; the other is this young Within moments Tesla was attempting to explain his new induction motor and the development of the multiphase alternating current, but was stopped dead in his tracks by an angry Edison. His response was short and sharp: "Spare me that nonsense. It's dangerous. We're set up for direct current in America.
People like it, and it's all I'll ever fool with. Nevertheless he offered the crestfallen Tesla a job on his workshop crew. It was hardly the last he was to hear of Tesla's AC breakthrough. While Tesla was a scientific genius of the highest level, he faced a continual challenge to fund the great, but expensive, plans that his imagination provided.
The War of the Currents - the battle to electrify America - had begun in earnest. While Edison had managed to electrify the wealthier parts of New York with a series of local coal- and steam-driven generating stations, his stubbornness could not allow him to think that there might be a more electrically efficient and more cost-efficient solution. With the backing of Pierpont Morgan, one of the wealthiest and most ruthless businessmen of his time, Edison had pinned his colors firmly to the DC mast, and there was no turning back.
For him it was a battle to the death - although the fatalities were, in the end, innocent and unlikely victims. In the War of the Currents Edison became a sinister P. Bamum figure: dogs and cats were collected off the streets and publicly electrocuted by Edison to demonstrate that AC electricity was dangerous - even lethal. AC was so dangerous, he contended, that all it was good for was killing. Despite Edison's propaganda, the Chicago World's Fair saw Westinghouse and Tesla emerge as victors in the War of the Currents, with a combination of showmanship and 41 technical superiority. The same year Westinghouse was awarded the contract to manufacture the generating equipment for the electrification of Niagara Falls, and Tesla was to be in charge of the design.
In a compromise. General Electric, which had taken over the Edison Electric Company, was to supply the transmission and distribution lines for the twenty-six miles from Niagara to Buffalo - the nearest major city. Yet even General Electric's proposal was now based on alternating current technology. For Tesla this was a double triumph: not only had alternating current been accepted for its technical superiority, but he had also been given a strange confirmation of the power of his mind. At the time he had modeled his first waterwheels, while in school in Gospic, Croatia, he had seen some pictures of Niagara Falls in a school book.
He had experienced a powerful reaction, and - as often - further associated creative pictures had appeared in his mind. He saw a huge wheel with water cascading over it. He told his uncle that one day he would travel to America and make this waterwheel. Some thirty years later his prophecy had come true.
Tesla would have been the Bill Gates of his day. It was not to be. Westinghouse came under pressure from his commercial enemies. The General Electric Company managed a dirty tricks campaign that lowered the Westinghouse Company's stock and made it close to impossible for it to continue independently. George Westinghouse had to go back to Tesla and ask him to forego all his royalties -past, present and future - in order that the company could survive independently. A large sum, perhaps, but not enough to independently fund Tesla's researches into the even more radical energy technologies that were already spinning around his mind.
Westinghouse survived to fight another day with General Electric over the countiy's seemingly infinite energy needs, even though court fights over patents would sap the company financial reserves for many years to come. From that time on it would be others who would benefit from Tesla's genius. Forgotten Genius? To demonstrate the genius of Tesla, we only need to list some of his patented inventions apart from those related to AC electricity: the arc light; the speedometer; the first radio- controlled boat; superconductivity; and the first tube light.
He also laid the ground for radar, ciyogenics, wireless radio and telephony, the use of X-rays and our understanding of the sun's cosmic rays. Cosmic rays were at the heart of some of Tesla's later ideas about energy production. In his own time, though, there were few who could accept his concept that the sun threw out showers of tiny, highly energetic, fast-moving particles. Although no record remains of his methods he claimed that he had measured their energy at hundreds of millions of volts.
Dr Robert A. Millikan and Arthur H. Compton, admitted their debt to Tesla's work, even though they disagreed violently about the nature of the rays - whether they were in fact photon light rays or, as Tesla had believed, charged particles. Millikan, though, managed to measure their potential at 64 million volts, close to Tesla's figure. We now know that cosmic rays, which are many and varied, result from the formations, decays and collisions of many different kinds of particles - some from the sun and some from other, more distant stars, novae and supernovae.
Nevertheless, Tesla's principal concept was closer to the truth than any of his contemporaries knew. While most lay people still believe that Marconi perfected the transmission and reception of radio waves, there is no longer reason to believe this: in June the US Supreme Court ruled that Tesla's patents predated Marconi's claims on the prize of radio. Popular history is, though, still slow to catch up. Errors committed in print can take many years to correct. The just do not always get to write the history books, and even during his lifetime Tesla became an object of ridicule and derision for his "oudandish ideas.
It is now believed he may have been the first person to have measured - without realizing its origin - the pulsing of distant stars. However, Kelvin and Tesla also agreed on a further, more prophetic point: that the world's non-renewable resources - such as coal and oil - should be conserved and that wind and solar power should be developed  Tesla's creative scientific skills seemed to know few boundaries; yet many who saw him work were scared by his radical approach to natural forces.
In public demonstrations he would often wreathe himself in sparks and crackling bolts of high-voltage electricity without ever seeming to do himself harm: "I still remember with pleasure how, nine years ago, I passed the discharge of a powerful induction-coil, through my body to demonstrate before a scientific society the comparative harmlessness of veiy rapidly vibrating electric currents, and I can still recall the astonishment of my audience. I would now undertake, with much less apprehension than I had in that experiment, to transmit through my body with such currents the entire electrical energy of the dynamos now working at Niagara -forty or fifty thousand horsepower.
I have produced electrical oscillations which were of such intensity that when circulating through my arms and chest they have melted wires which joined my hands, and still I felt no inconvenience. From the huge electrical coil in the centre of the room, white arcing sparks — some over twenty feet long and as thick as a man's arm — squirm and leap around him.
With millions of volts of electrical charge appearing to surround his posing figure, he seems perfectly, archly, "at home" - and to prove it he is calmly reading a book. It is a seminal image of the man who was more comfortable with the awesome power of natural electricity than perhaps anyone else - either before or since. The image is, in fact, a double exposure, a flashy kind of hoax; nevertheless, it demonstrates a key part of Tesla's personality his love of showmanship.
Transmission Without Wire While many of Tesla's dreams were achieved, his most ambitious visions remained unfulfilled during his lifetime. It is a matter of some considerable speculation, given his great achievements, as to why some of his plans did not reach fruition. While Tesla had gained great respect as an engineer and inventor, there were always those - like his professor in earlier times - who did not believe that his imaginings could really come to anything.
There were others who were in commercial and technological competition with Tesla - Edison, for example — who were willing to ridicule him and to diminish his standing as a way of promoting their own interests. And then there were the backers, the moneymen, who both fed and starved him according to their preference. Tesla's individual wealth was never enough to linance his own projects, and when his projects cost more than expected, as they inevitably did, he would throw himself on the mercy of a series of investors and benefactors.
Throughout 43 his life Tesla's finances swung from copious amounts of cash -which were soon invested in new machinery and inventions - to mountainous debts. In early Tesla secured new investment from a number of wealthy individuals including Col. With this money he set up an elaborate laboratory in Colorado Springs, where he unleashed artificial lightning discharges of several million volts blowing up the local generating station in the process. Tesla was convinced that he could transmit radio signals hundreds, even thousands of miles around the globe.
In the s he had secured patents on many aspects of radio transmission. In late Tesla needed a large investment if he were to get his Worldwide Wireless Telephone Transmitter to deliver its promise. After false starts with a number of investors he approached J. Tesla did not tell Morgan his hidden agenda, which he had earlier confided to the now unsupportive Westinghouse: "You will know of course that I contemplate the establishment of such a communication merely as the first step to further and more important work, namely that of transmitting power.
But as the latter will be an undertaking on a much larger and more expensive scale, I am compelled to first demonstrate such feature to get the confidence of capital. Writing later in , he described how he had developed his ideas: "For a long time I was convinced that such a transmission on an industrial scale could never be realized, but a discovery which I made changed my view. I observed that under certain conditions the atmosphere, which is normally a high insulator, assumes conducting properties, and so becomes capable of conveying any amount of electrical energy.
He had already proved to his own satisfaction that he could broadcast and receive signals over seven hundred miles, and now he offered Morgan the possibility of both transatlantic and transpacific radio communication. Tesla quickly purchased acres of Long Island, which he christened "Wardenclyffe". The money was soon being spent on the transmitting tower that would be Tesla's landmark, the symbol of his life's vision. Wardenclyffe tower was feet high and topped with a massive fifty-five-ton mushroom-like dome.
This contained Tesla's most important component - the magnifying transmitter capable of generating oscillating signals of some hundreds of millions of volts. In the two years or so that it took Tesla to build the transmitter he had developed two major problems. With escalating costs and long delays he was now in desperate financial straits. His second problem was Marconi, who had, on 12 December , sent the first wireless signal from Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland. What Morgan, and many others, did not know was that Marconi was using Tesla's radio patents, which were to become the focus of much dispute before Tesla's primacy was established in He also didn't know, but was about to find out, Tesla's hidden power agenda.
Tesla had already filed a patent relating to the wireless transmission of power US Patent No. In his comprehensive vision every person on the planet would have a receiver, which, just like a radio, they could tune to receive unlimited, unmetered power. When, on 3 July , Tesla made his final plea for more finance, he threw himself on Morgan's mercy, a quality that the magnate had never shown in any abundance: "If I could have told you such as this before, you would have fired me out of this office..
Will you help me or let my great work - almost complete - go to pots? But it was to be the last show of its kind. Neither Morgan nor Westinghouse, and none of the other big money people, were willing to start a new electrical revolution when they were still reaping the profits of the first revolution that Tesla had played his part in. In the end, Wardenclyffe tower was demolished for scrap and Tesla moved on to more "acceptable" projects.
Yet his desire to make energy freely available would never go away. Tesla's Free Energy Devices The wireless transmission of power was, essentially, a distribution technology. It still relied on a conventional power generation method such as coal and steam turbine to produce the enormous amounts of power it would have required. Since many years earlier, however, Tesla had been fascinated by the idea of new, untapped energy sources.
In one of his famous lectures of he told an astounded audience: "Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe Throughout space there is energy. If static, our hopes are in vain; if kinetic - and this we know it is, for certain - then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the veiy wheelwork of nature. Long ago I came to this conclusion, and to arrive at this result only two ways appeared possible - either to turn to use the energy of the sun stored in the ambient medium, or to transmit, through the medium, the sun's energy to distant places from some locality where it was obtainable without consumption of material.
We may even find ways of applying forces such as magnetism and gravity for driving machinery without using any other means. Such realizations, though highly improbable, are not impossible. An example will best convey an idea of what we can hope to attain, and what we can never attain. Imagine a disk of some homogeneous material turned perfecdy true and arranged to turn in frictionless bearings on a horizontal shaft above the ground.
This disk, being under the above conditions perfecdy balanced, would rest in any position. Now it is possible that we may learn how to make such a disk rotate continuously and perform work by the force of gravity without any further effort on our part: but it is perfectly impossible for the disk to turn and do work without any force from the outside. If it could do so, it would be what is designated scientifically as a "perpetuum mobile," a machine creating its own motive power. To make the disk rotate by the force of gravity we have to invent a screen against this force.
By such a screen we could prevent this force from acting on one half of the disk, and rotation of the latter would follow. At least, we cannot deny such a possibility until we know exactly the nature of the force of gravity. Suppose that this force were due to a movement comparable to that of a stream of air passing from above toward the centre of the earth. The effect of such a stream upon both halves of the disk would be equal, and the latter would not rotate ordinarily; but if one half should be guarded by a plate arresting the movement, then it would turn.
Even now such an idea delights and tantalizes - as does his other assertion that all we needed for free energy was a magnet with one pole, or else a way of shielding magnetism. This assertion has led to much experimentation into "permanent magnet motors" - motors that have no motive force apart from that of their own magnetism, hi the s Wemer Heisenberg, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, and the progenitor of the Uncertainty Principle, put forward the idea that we would indeed use magnets as a power source, despite the conventional theory that says magnets are incapable of doing physical work.
One of Tesla's many patents No. The concept for the device was relatively simple, and involved putting an insulated metal plate as high as possible into the air. A second metal plate is inserted into the ground. Wires are ran from both into a capacitor. The sun, as well as other sources of radiant energy, throws off minute particles of matter positively electrified, which, impinging upon [the upper] plate, communicate continuously an electrical charge to the same.
The opposite terminal of the condenser being connected to ground, which may be considered as a vast reservoir of negative electricity, a feeble current flows continuously into the condenser and inasmuch as the particles are charged to a very high potential, this charging of the condenser may continue, as I have actually observed, almost indefinitely, even to the point of rupturing the dielectric. Hemy Moray see Chapter 3 of Keith's book - Ed.
I n Chapter 9 I look at how the radiant energy or "ether" concept has now been updated in the light of modem physics. Another fuelless energy device Tesla mentioned in his Century Illustrated article "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy" was a mechanical oscillator, which first appeared in public at the Chicago World's Fair in In one of his many thought experiments Tesla pictured a very tall bundle of metal rods, extending from the earth to outer space.
Since the earth is wanner than outer space, heat would be conducted up the metal rods together with an electric current. All that would be required to capture the current would be a very long power cable to connect the two ends of the metal bar each to an electric load such as a battery or motor. A motor should keep running continuously, Tesla believed, until the earth had cooled to the temperature of outer space - something which, depending on the size of such a device, might never happen: "This would be an inanimate engine which, to all evidence, would be cooling a portion of the medium below the temperature of the surrounding, and operating by the heat abstracted.
Tesla and Faraday's Unipolar Dynamo Michael Faraday, discoverer of the laws of electromagnetic induction, was the inventor of the first electric motors in the s. One of his stranger, and often neglected, devices was the unipolar dynamo discussed in Chapter 4 of Keith's book - Ed. Tesla's involvement with the unipolar, or homopolar generator, led him to believe that it might be capable of acting as a "self-activating" generator. Indeed, in he filed and received a patent for the "Dynamo Electric Machine" based on Faraday's original design, but with an improved design intended 47 to increase its efficiency by reducing its drag or back torque, Tesla was postulating that if the back torque could be engineered to work in the direction of movement, rather than against it, then the machine could be made self-sustaining.
While Tesla was not able to achieve such a feat in his lifetime, his, and Faraday's, ideas were to be picked up by a number of researchers including Bruce DePalma - inventor of the N-machine - in the s and '80s. Tesla himself clearly stated that he had achieved energy generation from a new energy source on a number of occasions, although he was not always forthcoming about the technology behind his claimed achievement. On 10 July , for instance. The Brooklyn Eagle carried an article in which Tesla was quoted: "I have harnessed the cosmic rays and caused them to operate a motive device.
While he had been critically responsible for the expansion of electricity use, he also felt a passionate need to conserve the coal reserves for future generations. In November he was asked by a journalist from the Philadelphia Public Ledger whether his fuelless technologies would upset the present economic system. There is little doubt that Tesla was one of the great scientific geniuses not just of his own time, but perhaps of the entire twentieth century us well, but the reasons why his technologies were not developed may be complex.
Some researchers have claimed that, like Leonardo da Vinci, he was not just fifty or a hundred years ahead of his time, but perhaps many hundreds of years in advance of contemporaiy thinking. Scientific and technological ideas need support, both intellectual and financial, if they are to thrive. Is it possible, then, that new generations of scientists have not been able to develop his visionary ideas into physical technologies? This question bears on the notion of genius in science, as opposed to genius in the arts and other fields of endeavor.
While we accept that no one else could have written Beethoven's symphonies or Shakespeare's plays, it seems harder to accept that science is subject to the same vagaries of human beings. Even though Galileo Galilei, Michael Faraday and Albert Einstein possessed unique minds, we often assume that if theyhadn't "come up with" their discoveries someone else would have done the same pretty soon after. Perhaps that assumption is erroneous, or at least, highly limited. If it hadn't been for Tesla it is quite possible that we would have developed a much more primitive and limited electrical system based on small generating stations eveiy few miles.
Once Tesla had brought about one electrical revolution, the world was not ready for another, even more radical development of electrical power. The commercial powers that controlled the electrical landscape - based as it was on a distributed network of copper cable - had no interest in throwing away their investment in favor of the wireless, and potentially cosdess, transmission and reception of electricity.
They seem to have had even less interest in Tesla's ideas of free-energy technologies. Henry Moray, who adopted some of Tesla's ideas in his radiant energy device see Chapter 3 of Keith's book - Ed. While we can thank Tesla's genius for bringing distributed AC electricity to most of the world, we have yet to receive the gift he really wanted to give. In his more enlightened times Tesla himself maintained a balanced view: "I anticipate that many, unprepared for these results, which, through long familiarity, appear to me simple and obvious, will consider them still far from practical application.
Such reserve, and even opposition, of some is as useful a quality and as necessary an element in human progress as the quick receptivity and enthusiasm of others He does not expect that his advanced idea will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter - for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. With a Foreword by Arthur C. Clarke, Keith's book is a fascinating collection of scientific stories on pioneers as Tesla, Moray, Faraday, and many others, along with chapters on Swiss ML Converter, cold fusion, Blacklight Power, zero-point energy, an energy primer, and Tesla patents.
Reprinted from Proceedings of the International Tesla Symposium, Introduction Home of the 'Tesla Memorial Society of the US and Canada", Western New York has a rich history of being touched and brought to life by Nikola Tesla: 1 Niagara Falls, New York was the first city in the world to have commercial alternating current generation of electricity, owing to Tesla; 2 Buffalo, New York was the first city in the world to receive electric power generated from a long distance away 22 miles because of Tesla; 3 Buffalo, New York was the first city in the nation to have electric street lights thanks to Tesla.
Spending most of my life in Buffalo, and lots of enjoyable hours in Niagara Falls, it is my great yet humble pleasure to bring to you tonight an historical travelogue; a trip back in time, to the 's when the excitement and thrill of Tesla's fame was felt by everyone in Western New York. Sit back, relax, and get ready to experience what it was like to live in that period, just as the transformation of these two cities was taking place. For the first time, articles from the Niagara Gazette have been uncovered, including an interview with Tesla on the occasion of his first visit to the newly erected Adams Plant.
We'll examine the mistakes that were made as well as how Niagara Falls, New York, has tried to commemorate the "greatest electrician that ever lived," Nikola Tesla. Andrija Puharich, a book that is in the hands of Dell Publishers at this time. In , the Morgan financial group had started a company to try to develop the electric power potential of Niagara Falls.
An International commission was chaired by Lord Kelvin. The commission found that none of the plans were feasible. So the Cataract Company asked for plans and bids from companies in order to get the work under way. It was an incredible personal triumph for Tesla when his concept and plan were adopted by the commission. In October, , two companies were awarded the contracts to electrify Niagara Falls: Westinghouse won the contract to build the AC power plant at the Falls; and General Electric, using licensed Tesla patents, was awarded the contract to build the transmission lines and distribution systems to Buffalo, New York, 22 miles away.
Tesla had set huge ideas and forces in motion years ago, and now the tide of industrial civilization was lifting them higher and higher to the thundering crest of Niagara Falls' worldwide reputation All of his hundreds of invention models, plans, notes, plans, notes, laboratory data, tools, photographs — all, all were destroyed Even as the disaster of his laboratory loss was still ashes in his heart, the power from Niagara Falls began to flow in August, - Tesla's greatest triumph to date.
The builders and backers of this biggest of all electrical power plants on the planet were highly pleased with the success of the Tesla polyphase system. Nikola Tesla. Richardson of the Tesla Research Headquarters of Canada, let us look at some of the articles of Tesla's time from the same library. August 24, In they installed a horsepower motor in Niagara Falls.
When it is said that the new motor is 'the largest of its kind' it is an essential fact in this story. There is a motor larger, but not of the most modern type. The new machine is what is familiarly called a Tesla Induction type motor. It is built on the design of Tesla, who discovered a method of using an alternating two-phase electric current for operating a motor after other electricians had tried and failed to discern this method. It was considered one of Tesla's greatest achievements to discover this method for many reasons, but chiefly for its economical features May 29, The subtitles read, "A young man who is becoming known to the world as the greatest living electrician.
Niagara power over the sea. To perform this feat is one of his dreams — power enough to drive every railroad, propel every ship and produce every article manufactured. Louis a well-known electric journal issued daily bulletins or 'extras' giving a list of the delegates and distinguished attendants as they arrived at the convention, a program of the day's proceedings and a special article of immediate interest having reference to the current discussions of the convention.
One evening during the session of the convention, Mr. Tesla lectured on some of his recent experiments. The bulletin for that day contained a brief account of his life. So great is the interest taken in this young man that over 4, copies of the journal containing this biographical sketch were sold on the streets of St. Louis — something unprecedented in the history of electrical journalism — and in the evening his lecture, in the Grand Music Entertainment Hall, was listened to by a larger audience than had ever been gathered together before in the United States on an occasion of this kind.
It is singular that this remarkable man comes to us from one of the smallest and least known nations of Europe, Montenegro; that he is a young man only 30 years of age , and that the best scientific minds believe that he has only begun to give the world the result of valuable researches. The following is taken from an interview with Mr. Tesla by a New York Herald reporter. Take, for instance, Niagara.
This famous waterfall is estimated variously all the way from five to six millions horse-power. Now 1,, horse-power economi- 53 cally directed would light every lamp, drive every railroad, propel every ship, heat every store, and produce every article manufactured by machinery in the United States. Engineers now object to the use of very high pressure which would be necessary in such transmissions of power. But I believe the time will come when we shall transmit that energy without any wire.
In fact, the only serious objection to this scheme is to find a means to concentrate the energy of vibrations spread over a great area on one spot. It has been suggested that I can produce a set of lenses made of asphaltum or gutta percha or any other good so-called non-conductor of electricity, and can concentrate these rays, or waves, to a focus where their effect would be powerful.
I think, after a consider- able lapse of time, it will become practically necessary for our existence. For instance, there is the question of light The advantages of the electric light are so great that even with the present wasteful methods we have been able to succeed in making practical use of it. To do this is merely a question of time. Electric power is obtained by the use of dangerous, cumbersome and complicated appliances.
But we have electric machines now, which require no attention whatever, and which will, in a few years, supplant all other motors, simply because of their higher efficiency and ideal simplicity. Eventually we will very likely be able to heat our stoves, warm the water and do our cooking by electricity, and in fact, to perform any service of this kind required for our domestic needs. Even with the present methods any rich man certainly prefers, instead of a stove in his room, to have it wanned by electricity.
The method is expensive but ideal. It will certainly be applied to rowboats and will probably be so cheap that any man in ordinary circumstances can own a boat and propel it by this means. It would be a gloomy prospect indeed for the world if we did not think that this great power will be used to the advantage of the vast majority of the human race and its benefits will not be confined merely to the wealthy. The light coming from the hand is produced by the agitation of the particles of molecules of the air.
I charge my body with electricity, and from an apparatus which I have devised, I can make 54 the electricity vibrate at the rate of a million times a second. The molecules of the air are then violently agitated, so violendy that they become luminous; and streams of light then come out from the hand. I shall never forget the eagerness and excitement with which that famous scientist saw the lamp light up.
I can only say that the appreciation of such men simply repays me for that pains I take in working out such phenomena. November 22, This is still when plans were getting under way at Niagara Falls and they had just signed the contract. The excitement is building. Tesla has a plan to send Niagara Falls power through New York "by electricity's aid. Superintendent of Public Works, Hannan feels that the Niagara power This is an interesting sideline to the Adams Plant project that never actually took place but let's read about it: An Albany special has the following in regards to the recent test of the possibilities of electric propulsion of canal boats; Edward Hannan, the Superin- tendent of Public Works, is highly gratified over what he considers the successful demonstration on the Erie Canal at Brighton last Saturday that electricity can he used in the propulsion of canal boats.
Speaking about the experiment today he said: "I think it was clearly made evident at Brighton that canal boats, by using the trolley system of supplying themselves with electricity for electric motors, can get sufficient power to be driven with their ordinary cargoes from one end of the Erie Canal to the other. As to the cost of putting trolley wires along the Erie Canal and of supplying electricity, as well as the cost of putting electric motors in the canal boats - this will have to be learned by many computations. The governor asked my opinion of the State's undertaking such a work and I told him that in my judgement it was not feasible for the State to put up electrical wires or go to any expense of like nature; that it ought to be left to private enterprise.
In my opinion this Niagara Falls Electric Power Company will eventually be able, if it chooses to do so, to put up trolley wires all along the line of the Erie Canal and supply electricity for the canal boats. Westinghouse was already conceiving of a distance 10 times greater than the distance from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, which still had not been accom- plished at that time. The subtitle reads, "W. Rankine talks of them — Nothing would surprise him - thinks that possibly some of his plans will be brought to a practical reality — satisfied with progress of the work.
Rankine, secretary and treasurer of the Cataract Construcion Company, arrived in the city this morning from New York looking extremely well and happy. The contracted work is being pushed along and is progressing as rapidly as one would wish. It would not be surprising to me to see some of his wonderful ideas brought to a practical reality in the near future.
Sees 'the low lights flickering on tangible new continents of science' — inherits his inventive turn from his mother - early history of a romantic life. I'll just quote the first paragraph here since it is available elsewhere: The readers of the GAZETTE will appreciate the following sketch of Nikola Tesla, the famous electrician who has frequently visited here. It is taken from the February Century and is by Thomas C.
Nikola Tesla was born in Serbia, a land so famous for its poetry that Goethe is said to have learned the musical tongue in which it is written, rather than lose any of its native beauty. There is no record of any one having ever studied Serbian for the sake of Serbian science; and indeed a great Slav orator has recently reproached his one hundred and twenty million fellows in Eastern Europe with their utter inability to invent even a mousetrap.
But even racial conditions leave genius its 56 freedom, and once in a while nature herself rights things hy producing a men whose transcendent merit compensates his nation for the very defects to which it has long been sensitive Electric Lighting In the next article, where Tesla is interviewed, we note that he will refuse to discuss his new invention, the electric arc lamp, that was keeping him busy while the Adams Plant was being completed.
Here is an interesting article that reveals efficiencies for incandescent lamps that still have not been surpassed today. Let's take a look at a short article that appeared in the Niagara Gazette. May 22, , entitled, "Electric Lighting. New York, May Nicola Tesla has solved the problem which he set before himself many years ago and which may revolutionize the system of elec- tric-lighting.
It is, electrical experts say, the nearest perfect adaption of the great force to the use of man. In Mr. Tesla's laboratory in Houston Street is a bulb not much more than three inches in length, which when the current turns into it, becomes a ball of light. The heat is almost imperceptible. With it a very large room is so lighted that it is possible to read in any corner. Yet this is done without the attachments necessary in existing lights. The rays are so strong that the sharpest photographs may be taken by them.
No new dynamo is required to produce the current. The bulb is attached to a wire connected with the street current. There is no danger of harmful shock in its use. Tesla has been working for many years on his theory of the necessity and practicability of the conservation of electrical energy.
The present incandescent light gives only three per cent of illuminating power. The other 97 per cent is wasted in heat The bulb which he has perfected gives 10 per cent of light and loses 90 per cent of energy. He declares that he will, with the aid of a few more experiments, be able to produce 40 per cent of light, so that the waste will be reduced to only 60 per cent, or 37 per cent less than at present.
Countdown to Apollo
This article is no less than amazing because today our incandescent bulbs still check in at about 3 per cent efficiency. Where did Tesla's invention go? Here is an actual interview with Tesla just after the power is being turned on at the Falls and Buffalo is just about to get some of the power not reprinted or available anywhere else in the literature. Here Tesla is visiting the Niagara Falls Adams Plant to inspect the work that has been finally finished according to his design.
The article, from the Niagara Gazette. The dreamer in science was in the city yesterday, inspecting the wonders which had been achieved in harnessing Niagara. He had but little to say. The panorama of human evolution is illumined by sudden bursts of dazzling brilliance in intellectual accomplishments that throw their beams far ahead to give us a glimpse of the distant future, that we may more correctly guide our wavering steps today. Tesla, by virtue of the amazing discoveries and inventions which he showered on the world, becomes one of the most resplendent flashes that has ever brightened the scroll of human advancement.
Tesla created the modern era; he was unquestionably one of the world's greatest geniuses, but he leaves no offspring, no legatees of his brilliant mind, who might aid in administering that world; he created fortunes for multitudes of others but himself died penniless, spurning wealth that might be gained from his discoveries. Even as he walked among the teeming millions of New York he became a fabled individual who seemed to belong to the far-distant future or to have come to us from the mystical realm of the gods, for he seemed to be an admixture of a Jupiter or a Thor who hurled the shafts of lightning; an Ajax who defied the Jovian bolts; a Prometheus who transmuted energy into electricity to spread over the earth; an Aurora who would light the skies as a terrestrial electric lamp; a Mazda who created a sun in a tube; a Hercules who shook the earth with his mechanical vibrators; a Mercury who bridged the ambient realms of space with his wireless waves-and a Hermes who gave birth to an electrical soul in the earth that set it pulsating from pole to pole.
This spark of intellectual incandescence, in the form of a rare creative genius, shot like a meteor into the midst of human society in the latter decades of the past century; and he lived almost until today. His name became synonymous with magic in the intellectual, scientific, engineering and social worlds, and he was recognized as an inventor and discoverer of unrivaled greatness. He made the electric current his slave. At a time when electricity was considered almost an occult force, and was looked upon with terror-stricken awe and respect, Tesla penetrated deeply into its mysteries and performed so many marvelous feats with it that, to the world, he became a master magician with an unlimited repertoire of scientific legerdemain so spectacular that it made the accomplishments of most of the inventors of his day seem like the work of toy-tinkers.
Tesla was an inventor, but he was much more than a producer of new devices: he was a discoverer of new principles, opening many new empires of knowledge which even today have been only partly explored. And these discoveries are merely the inventions made by the master mind of Tesla which have thus far been utilized-scores of others remain still unused.
Yet Tesla lived and labored to bring peace to the world. He dedicated his life to lifting the burdens from the shoulders of mankind; to bringing a new era of peace, plenty and happiness to the human race. Seeing the coming of World War II, implemented and powered by his discoveries, he sought to prevent it; offered the world a device which he maintained would make any country, no matter how small, safe within its borders-and his offer was rejected. More important by far, however, than all his stupendously significant electrical discoveries is that supreme invention-Nikola Tesla the Superman-the human instrument which shoved the world forward with an accelerating lunge like an airplane cast into the sky from a catapult.
Tesla, the scientist and inventor, was himself an invention, just as much as was his alternating-current system that put the world on a superpower basis. Tesla was a superman, a self-made superman, invented and designed specifically to perform wonders; and he achieved them in a volume far beyond the capacity of the world to absorb. His life he designed on engineering principles to enable him to serve as an automaton, with utmost efficiency, for the discovery and application of the forces of Nature to human welfare.
To this end he sacrificed love and pleasure, seeking satisfaction only in his accomplishments, and limiting his body solely to serving as a tool of his technically creative mind. With our modern craze for division of labor and specialization of effort to gain efficiency of production in our industrial machine, one hesitates to think of a future in which Tesla's invention of the superman might be applied to the entire human race, with specialization designed for every individual from birth.
The superman that Tesla designed was a scientific saint. The inventions that this scientific martyr produced were designed for the peace, happiness and security of the human race, but they have been applied to create scarcity, depressions and devastating war. Suppose the superman invention were also developed and prostituted to the purposes of war-mongering politicians? Tesla glimpsed the possibilities and suggested the community life of the bee as a threat to our social structure unless the elements of individual and community lives are properly directed and personal freedom protected.
Tesla's superman was a marvelously successful invention-for Tesla-which seemed, as far as the world could observe, to function satisfactorily. He eliminated love from his life; eliminated women even from his thoughts. He went beyond Plato, who conceived of a spiritual companionship between man and woman free from sexual desires; he eliminated even the spiritual companionship.
He designed the isolated life into which no woman and no man could enter; the self-sufficient individuality from which all sex considerations were completely eliminated; the genius who would live entirely as a thinking and a working machine. Tesla's superman invention was a producer of marvels, and he thought that he had, by scientific methods, succeeded in eliminating love from his life.
That abnormal life makes a fascinating experiment for the consideration of the philosopher and psychologist, for he did not succeed in eliminating love. It manifested itself despite his conscientious efforts at suppression; and when it did so it came in the most fantastic form, providing a romance the like of which is not recorded in the annals of human history. Tesla's whole life seems unreal, as if he were a fabled creature of some Olympian world.
A reporter, after writing a story of his discoveries and inventions, concluded, "His accomplishments seem like the dream of an intoxicated god. Every one of the tall Martian-like towers of the electrical transmission lines that stalk across the earth, and whose wires carry electricity to distant cities, is a monument to Tesla; every powerhouse, every dynamo and every motor that drives every machine in the country is a monument to him. Superseding himself, he discovered the secret of transmitting electrical power to the utmost ends of the earth without wires, and demonstrated his system by which useful amounts of power could be drawn from the earth anywhere merely by making a connection to the ground; he set the entire earth in electrical vibration with a generator which spouted lightning that rivaled the fiery artillery of the heavens.
It was as a minor portion of this discovery that he created the modern radio system; he planned our broadcasting methods of today, forty years ago when others saw in wireless only the dot-dash messages that might save ships in distress. He produced lamps of greater brilliance and economy than those in common use today; he invented the tube, fluorescent and wireless lamps which we now consider such up-to-the-minute developments; and he essayed to set the entire atmosphere of the earth aglow with his electric currents, to change our world into a single terrestrial lamp and to make the skies at night shine as does the sun by day.
If other first-magnitude inventors and discoverers may be considered torches of progress, Tesla was a conflagration. He was the vehicle through which the blazing suns of a brighter tomorrow focused their incandescent beams on a world that was not prepared to receive their light. Nor is it remarkable that this radiant personality should have led a strange and isolated life. The value of his contributions to society cannot be overrated. We can now analyze, to some extent, the personality that produced them.
He stands as a synthetic genius, a self-made superman, the greatest invention of the greatest inventor of all times. But when we consider Tesla as a human being, apart from his charming and captivating social manners, it is hard to imagine a worse nightmare than a world inhabited entirely by geniuses. When Nature makes an experiment and achieves an improvement it is necessary that it be accomplished in such a way that the progress will not be lost with the individual but will be passed on to future generations.
In man, this requires a utilization of the social values of the race, cooperation of the individual with his kind, that the improved status may be propagated and become a legacy of all. Tesla intentionally engineered love and women out of his life, and while he achieved gigantic intellectual stature, he failed to achieve its perpetuation either through his own progeny or through disciples. The superman he constructed was not great enough to embrace a wife and continue to exist as such. The love he sought to suppress in his life, and which he thought was associated only with women, is a force which, in its various aspects, links together all members of the human race.
In seeking to suppress this force entirely Tesla severed the bonds which might have brought to him the disciples who would, through other channels, have perpetuated the force of his prodigal genius. As a result, he succeeded in imparting to the world only the smallest fraction of the creative products of his synthetic superman. The creation of a superman as demonstrated by Tesla was a grand experiment in human evolution, well worthy of the giant intellect that grew out of it, but it did not come up to Nature's standards; and the experiment will have to be made many times more before we learn how to create a super race with the minds of Teslas that can tap the hidden treasury of Nature's store of knowledge, yet endowed too with the vital power of love that will unlock forces, more powerful than any which we now glimpse, for advancing the status of the human race.
Milutin Tesla and Djouka, his wife, in the hamlet of Smiljan, in the Austro-Hungarian border province of Lika, now a part of Yugoslavia. The father of the new arrival, pastor of the village church, was a former student in an officers' training school who had rebelled against the restrictions of Army life and turned to the ministry as the field in which he could more satisfactorily express himself. The mother, although totally unable to read or write, was nevertheless an intellectually brilliant woman, who without the help of literal aids became really well educated.
Both father and mother contributed to the child a valuable heritage of culture developed and passed on by ancestral families that had been community leaders for many generations. The father came from a family that contributed sons in equal numbers to the Church and to the Army. The mother was a member of the Mandich family whose sons, for generations without number, had, with very few exceptions, become ministers of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and whose daughters were chosen as wives by ministers.
Djouka, the mother of Nikola Tesla her given name in English translation would be Georgina , was the eldest daughter in a family of seven children. Her father, like her husband, was a minister of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Her mother, after a period of failing eyesight, had become blind shortly after the seventh child was born; so Djouka, the eldest daughter, at a tender age was compelled to take over the major share of her mother's duties.
This not alone prevented her from attending school: her work at home so completely consumed her time that she was unable to acquire even the rudiments of reading and writing through home study. This was a strange situation in the cultured family of which she was a member. Tesla, however, always credited his unlettered mother rather than his erudite father with being the source from which he inherited his inventive ability.
She devised many household labor-saving instruments. She was, in addition, a very practical individual, and her well-educated husband wisely left in her hands all business matters involving both the church and his household. An unusually retentive memory served this remarkable woman as a good substitute for literacy. As the family moved in cultured circles she absorbed by ear much of the cultural riches of the community.
She could repeat, without error or omission, thousands of verses of the national poetry of her country-the sagas of the Serbs-and could recite long passages from the Bible. She could narrate from memory the entire poetical- philosophical work Gorski Vijenac Mountain Wreath , written by Bishop Petrovich Njegosh.
She also possessed artistic talent and a versatile dexterity in her fingers for expressing it. She earned wide fame throughout the countryside for her beautiful needlework. According to Tesla, so great were her dexterity and her patience that she could, when over sixty, using only her Fingers, tie three knots in an eyelash. The remarkable abilities of this clever woman who had no formal education were transmitted to her five children. The elder son, Dane Tesla, born seven years before Nikola, was the family favorite because of the promise of an outstanding career which his youthful cleverness indicated was in store for him.
He foreshadowed in his early years the strange manifestations which in his surviving brother were a prelude to greatness. Tesla's father started his career in the military service, a likely choice for the son of an officer; but he apparently did not inherit his father's liking for Army life. So slight an incident as criticism for failure to keep his brass buttons brightly polished caused him to leave military school. He was probably more of a poet and philosopher than a soldier.
He wrote poetry which was published in contemporary papers. He also wrote articles on current problems which he signed with a pseudonym, "Srbin Pravicich. It was probably his interest in poetry and philosophy that caused him to be attracted to Djouka Mandich. She was twenty-five and Milutin was two years older. He married her in His attraction to the daughter of a pastor probably influenced his next choice of a career, for he then entered the ministry and was soon ordained a priest. He was made pastor of the church at Senj, an important seaport with facilities for a cultural life.
He gave satisfaction, but apparently he achieved success among his parishioners on the basis of a pleasing personality and an understanding of problems rather than by using any great erudition in theological and ecclesiastical matters. A few years after he was placed in charge of this parish, a new archbishop, elevated to head of the diocese, wished to survey the capabilities of the priests in his charge and offered a prize for the best sermon preached on his official visit.
- The Christchurch Fusee Chain Gang;
- Clássicos Juvenis: O Homem da Máscara de Ferro (Portuguese Edition).
- Was Nikola Tesla a ‘crackpot’ or a genius?.
- Index of /Nikola_Tesla/Books.
- Will Nell (Author of TESLA - Unraveling the Genius of Nikola Tesla).
The Rev. Milutin Tesla was bubbling over, at the time, with interest in labor as a major factor in social and economic problems. To preach a sermon on this topic was, from the viewpoint of expediency, a totally impractical thing to do. Nobody, however, had ever accused the Rev. Tesla of being practical, so doing the impractical thing was quite in harmony with his nature. He chose the subject which held his greatest interest; and when the archbishop arrived, he listened to a sermon on "Labor.
Months later Senj was surprised by an unanticipated visit from the archbishop, who announced that the Rev. Tesla had preached the best sermon, and awarded him a red sash which he was privileged to wear on all occasions. Shortly afterward he was made pastor at Smiljan, where his parish then embraced forty homes.
He was later placed in charge of the much larger parish in the nearby city of Gospic. Nikola and his younger sister, Marica, were born at Smiljan. Tesla's early environment, then, was that of an agricultural community in a high plateau region near the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea in the Velebit Mountains, a part of the Alps, a mountain chain stretching from Switzerland to Greece. Tesla's homeland is today called Yugoslavia, a country whose name means "Land of the Southern Slavs. The Tesla and Mandich families originally came from the western part of Serbia near Montenegro.
Smiljan, the village where Tesla was born, is in the province of Lika, and at the time of his birth this was a dependent province held by the Austro-Hungarian Empire as part of Croatia and Slovenia. Tesla's surname dates back more than two and a half centuries. Before that time the family name was Draganic pronounced as if spelled Drag'-a-nitch. The name Tesla pronounced as spelled, with equal emphasis on both syllables , in a purely literal sense, is a trade name like Smith, Wright or Carpenter. As a common noun it describes a woodworking tool which, in English, is called an adz.
This is an axe with a broad cutting blade at right angles to the handle, instead of parallel as in the more familiar form. It is used in cutting large tree trunks into squared timbers. In the Serbo-Croat language, the name of the tool is tesla. There is a tradition in the Draganic family that the members of one branch were given the nickname "Tesla'' because of an inherited trait which caused practically all of them to have very large, broad and protruding front teeth which greatly resembled the triangular blade of the adz.
The name Draganic and derivatives of it appear frequently in other branches of the Tesla family as a given name. When used as a given name it is frequently translated "Charlotte,'' but as a generic term it holds the meaning "dear'' and as a surname is translated "Darling. The majority of Tesla's ancestors for whom age records are available lived well beyond the average span of life for their times, but no definite record has been found of the ancestor who, Tesla claimed, lived to be one hundred and forty years of age. His father died at the age of fifty-nine, and his mother at seventy-one.
Although many of Tesla's ancestors were dark eyed, his eyes were a gray-blue. He claimed his eyes were originally darker, but that as a result of the excessive use of his brain their color changed. His mother's eyes, however, were gray and so are those of some of his nephews.
It is probable, therefore, that his gray eyes were inherited, rather than faded by excessive use of the brain. Tesla grew to be very tall and very slender-tallness was a family and a national trait. When he attained full growth he was exactly two meters, or six feet two and one-quarter inches tall. While his body was slender, it was built within normal proportions. His hands, however, and particularly his thumbs, seemed unusually long. Nikola's older brother Dane was a brilliant boy and his parents gloried in their good fortune in being blessed with such a fine son.
There was, however, a difference of seven years in the two boys' ages, and since the elder brother died as the result of an accident at the age of twelve, when Nikola was but five years old, a fair comparison of the two seems hardly possible. The loss of their First-born son was a great blow to his mother and father; the grief and regrets of the family were manifest in idealizing his talents and predicting possibilities of greatness he might have realized, and this situation was a challenge to Nikola in his youth. The superman Tesla developed out of the superboy Nikola.
Forced to rise above the normal level by an urge to carry on for his dearly beloved departed brother, and also on his own account to exceed the great accomplishment his brother might have attained had he lived, he unconsciously drew upon strange resources within. The existence of these resources might have remained unsuspected for a lifetime, as happens with the run of individuals, if Nikola had not felt the necessity for creating a larger sphere of life for himself.
He was aware as a boy that he was not like other boys in his thoughts, in his amusements and in his hobbies. He could do the things that other lads his age usually do, and many things that they could not do. It was these latter things that interested him most, and he could find no companions who would share his enthusiasms for them. This situation caused him to isolate himself from contemporaries, and made him aware that he was destined for an unusual place if not great accomplishments in life.
His boyish mind was continually exploring realms which his years had not reached, and his boyhood attainments frequently were worthy of men of mature age. He had, of course, the usual experience of unusual incidents that fall to the lot of a small boy. One of the earliest events which Tesla recalled was a fall into a tank of hot milk that was being scalded in the process used by the natives of that region as a hygienic measure, anticipating the modern process of pasteurizing.
Shortly afterward he was accidentally locked in a remote mountain chapel which was visited only at widely separated intervals. He spent the night in the small building before his absence was discovered and his possible hiding place determined. Living close to Nature, with ample opportunity for observing the flight of birds, which has ever filled men with envy, he did what many another boy has done with the same results. An umbrella, plus imagination, offered to him a certain solution of the problem of free flight through the air.
The roof of a barn was his launching platform. The umbrella was large, but its condition was much the worse for many years of service; it turned inside out before the flight was well started. No bones were broken, but he was badly shaken up and spent the next six weeks in bed. Probably, though, he had better reason for making this experiment than most of the others who have tried it.
He revealed that practically all his life he experienced a peculiar reaction when breathing deeply. When he breathed deeply he was overcome by a feeling of lightness, as if his body had lost all weight; and he should, he concluded, be able to fly through the air merely by his will to do so. He did not learn, in boyhood, that he was unusual in this respect. One day when he was in his fifth year, one of his chums received a gift of a fishing line, and all the boys in the group planned a fishing trip. On that day he was on the outs with his chums for some unremembered reason.
As a result, he was informed he could not join them. He was not permitted even to see the fishing line at close range. He had glimpsed, however, the general idea of a hook on the end of a string. In a short time he had fashioned his own interpretation of a hook. The refinement of a barb had not occurred to him and he also failed to evolve the theory of using bait when he went off on his own fishing expedition. The baitless hook failed to attract any fish but, while dangling in the air, much to Tesla's surprise and satisfaction it snared a frog that leaped at it.
He came home with a bag of nearly two dozen frogs. It may have been a day on which the fish were not biting, but at any rate his chums came home from the use of their new hook and line without any fish. His triumph was complete. When he later revealed his technique, all the boys in the neighborhood copied his hook and method, and in a short time the frog population of the region was greatly depleted. The contents of birds' nests always excited Tesla's curiosity.
He rarely disturbed their contents or occupants. On one occasion, however, he climbed a rocky crag to investigate an eagle's nest and took from it a baby eagle which he kept locked in a barn. A bird on the wing he considered fair prey for his sling shot, with which he was a star performer. About this time he became intrigued with a piece of hollow tube cut from a cane growing in the neighborhood.
This he played with until he had evolved a blow gun and later, by making a plunger and plugging one end of the tube with a wad of wet hemp, a pop gun. He then undertook the making of larger pop guns, and contrived one in which the end of the plunger was held against the chest and the tube pulled energetically toward the body. He engaged in the manufacture of this article for his chums, as a Five-year-old businessman. When a number of window panes happened to get broken accidentally by getting in the way of his hemp wad, his inventive proclivities in this field were quickly curbed by the destruction of the pop guns and the administration of the parental rod.
Tesla started his formal education by attending the village school in Smiljan before he reached his fifth birthday. A few years later his father received his appointment as pastor of a church in the nearby city of Gospic, so the family moved there. This was a sad day for young Tesla. He had lived close to Nature, and loved the open country and the high mountains among which he had thus far spent all of his life. The sudden transition to the artificialities of the city was a very definite shock to him. He was out of harmony with his new surroundings.
His advent into the city life of Gospic, at the age of seven, got off to an unfortunate start. As the new minister in town, his father was anxious to have everything move smoothly. Tesla was required to dress in his best clothes and attend the Sunday services. Naturally, he dreaded this ordeal and was very happy when assigned the task of ringing the bell summoning the worshipers to the service and announcing the close of the ceremonies. This gave him an opportunity to remain unseen in the belfry while the parishioners, their daughters and dude sons were arriving and departing.
Thinking he had waited long enough after the close of the service for the church to be cleared on this First Sunday, he came downstairs three steps at a time. A wealthy woman parishioner wearing a skirt with a long train that fashionably dragged along the ground, and who had come to the service with a retinue of servants, remained after the other parishioners to have a talk with the new pastor. She was just making an impressive exit when Tesla's final jump down the stairs landed him on the train, ripping this dignity-preserving appendage from the woman's dress.
Her mortification and rage and his father's anger came upon him simultaneously. Parishioners loitering outside rushed back to revel in the spectacle. Thereafter no one dared be pleasant to this youngster who had enraged the wealthy dowager who domineered it over the social community. He was practically ostracized by the parishioners, and continued so until he redeemed himself in a spectacular manner. Tesla felt strange and defeated in his ignorance of city ways. He met the situation First by avoidance.
He did not care to leave his home. The boys of his age were neatly dressed every day. They were dudes and he did not belong. Even as a child Tesla was meticulously careful in dress. At the earliest moment, however, he would slip work clothes over his dress clothes and go wandering in the woods or engage in mechanical work. He could not enjoy life if limited to the activities in which he could engage while dressed up. Tesla, however, possessed ingenuity, and there was rarely a situation in which he was not able to use it.
He also possessed knowledge of the ways of Nature.
These gave him a distinct superiority over the city boys. About a year after the family moved to Gospic a new fire company was organized. It was to be supplied with a pump which would replace the useful but inadequate bucket brigade. The members of the new organization obtained brightly colored uniforms and practiced marching for parades. Eventually the new pump arrived. It was a man-power pump to be operated by sixteen men. A parade and demonstration of the new apparatus was arranged.
Almost everyone in Gospic turned out for the event and followed to the river front for the pump demonstration. Tesla was among them. He paid no attention to the speeches but was all eyes for the brightly painted apparatus. He did not know how it worked but would have loved to take it apart and investigate the insides.
The time for the demonstration came when the last speaker, finishing his dedicatory address, gave the order to start the pumping operation that would send a stream of water shooting skyward from the nozzle. The eight men regimented on either side of the pump bowed and rose in alternate unison as they raised and lowered the bars that operated the pistons of the pump.
But nothing else happened, not a drop of water came from the nozzle! Officials of the fire company started feverishly to make adjustments and, after each attempt, set the sixteen men oscillating up and down at the pump handles, but each time without results. The lines of hose between the pump and the nozzle were straightened out, they were disconnected from the pump and connected again. But no water came from the far end of the hose to reward the efforts of the perspiring firemen.
Tesla was among the usual group of urchins that always manages to get inside the lines on such occasions. He tried to see everything that was going on from the closest possible vantage point and undoubtedly got on the nerves of the vexed officials when their repeated efforts were frustrated by continuous failures. As one of the officials turned for the tenth time to vent his frustration on the urchins and order them away from his range of action, Tesla grabbed him by the arm.
Dashing for the river, Tesla peeled his clothes off quickly and dove into the water. He swam to the suction hose that was supposed to draw the water supply from the river. He found it kinked, so that no water could flow into it, and flattened by the vacuum created by the pumping. When he straightened out the kink, the water rushed into the line.
The nozzlemen had stood at their post for a long time, receiving a continuous repetition of warnings to be prepared each time an adjustment was made, but, as nothing happened on these successive occasions, they had gradually relaxed their attention and were giving little thought to the direction in which the nozzle was pointed. When the stream of water did shoot skyward, down it came on the assembled officials and townspeople. This item of unexpected drama excited the crowd at the other end of the line near the pump, and to give vent to their joy they seized the scantily dressed Tesla, boosted him to the shoulders of a couple of the firemen, and led a procession around the town.
The seven-year-old Tesla was the hero of the day. Later on Tesla, in explaining the incident, said that he had had not the faintest idea of how the pump worked; but as he watched the men struggle with it, he got an intuitive flash of knowledge that told him to go to the hose in the river. On looking back to that event, he said, he knew how Archimedes must have felt when, after discovering the law of the displacement of water by floating objects, he ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting "Eureka! And further, he had done something which the dudes, the boys of his age in the city, could not do and which even their fathers could not do.
He had found himself. He was now a hero, and it could be forgotten that he had jumped on a woman's skirt and ripped the train off. Tesla never lost an opportunity to hike through the nearby mountains where he could again enjoy the pleasures of his earlier years spent so close to Nature. On these occasions he would often wonder if there was still operating a crude water wheel which he made and installed, when he was less than Five years old, across the mountain brook near his home in Smiljan.
The wheel consisted of a not too well-smoothed disk cut from a tree trunk in some lumbering operations. Through its center he was able to cut a hole and force into it a somewhat straight branch of a tree, the ends of which he rested in two sticks with crotches which he forced into the rock on either bank of the brook. This arrangement permitted the lower part of the disk to dip in the water and the current caused it to rotate. To the lad there was a great deal of originality employed in making this ancient device. The wheel wobbled a bit but to him it was a marvelous piece of construction, and he got no end of pleasure out of watching his water wheel obtain power from the brook.
This experiment undoubtedly made a life-long impression on his young plastic mind and endowed him with the desire, ever afterward manifested in his work, of obtaining power from Nature's sources which are always being dissipated and always being replenished. In this smooth-disk water wheel we find an early clue to his later invention of the smooth-disk turbine. In his later experience he discovered that all water wheels have paddles-but his little water wheel had operated without paddles.
Tesla's First experiment in original methods of power production was made when he was nine years old. It demonstrated his ingenuity and originality, if nothing else. It was a sixteen-bug-power engine. He took two thin slivers of wood, as thick as a toothpick and several times as long, and glued them together in the form of a cross, so they looked like the arms of a windmill. At the point of intersection they were glued to a spindle made of another thin sliver of wood. On this he slipped a very small pulley with about the diameter of a pea.
A piece of thread acting as a driving belt was slipped over this and also around the circumference of a much larger but light pulley which was also mounted on a thin spindle. The power for this machine was furnished by sixteen May bugs June bugs in the United States. He had collected a jar full of the insects, which were very much of a pest in the neighborhood.
With a little dab of glue four bugs were affixed, heading in the same direction, to each of the four arms of the windmill arrangement. The bugs beat their wings, and if they had been free would have flown away at high speed. They were, however, attached to the cross arms, so instead they pulled them around at high speed. These, being connected by the thread belt to the large pulley, caused the latter to turn at low speed; but it developed, Tesla reports, a surprisingly large torque, or turning power.
Proud of his bug-power motor and its continuous operation-the bugs did not cease flying for hours-he called in one of the boys in the neighborhood to admire it. The lad was a son of an Army officer. The visitor was amused for a short time by the bug motor, until he spied the jar of still unused May bugs.
Without hesitation he opened the jar, fished out the bugs-and ate them. This so nauseated Tesla that he chased the boy out of the house and destroyed the bug motor. For years he could not tolerate the sight of May bugs without a return of this unpleasant reaction. This event greatly annoyed Tesla because he had planned to add more spindles to the shaft and stick on more fliers until he had more than a one-hundred-bug-power motor.
TESLA'S years in school were more important for the activities in which he engaged in after-school hours than for what he learned in the classroom. At the age of ten, having finished his elementary studies in the Normal School, Tesla entered the college, called the Real Gymnasium, at Gospic. This was not an unusually early age to enter the Real Gymnasium, as that school corresponds more to our grammar school and junior high school than to our college. One of the requirements, and one to which an unusually large percentage of the class time was devoted throughout the four years, was freehand drawing.
Tesla detested the subject almost to the point of open rebellion, and his marks were accordingly very low, but not entirely owing to a lack of ability. Tesla was left-handed as a boy, but later became ambidextrous. Left-handedness was a definite handicap in the freehand-drawing studies, but he could have done much better work than he actually produced and would have gotten higher marks if it were not for a piece of altruism in which he engaged. A student whom he could excel in drawing was striving hard for a scholarship. Were he to receive the lowest marks in freehand drawing, he would be unable to obtain the scholarship.
Tesla sought to help his fellow student by intentionally getting the lowest rating in the small class. Mathematics was his favorite subject and he distinguished himself in that study. His unusual proficiency in this field was not considered a counterbalancing virtue to make amends for his lack of enthusiasm for freehand drawing. A strange power permitted him to perform unusual feats in mathematics.
He possessed it from early boyhood, but had considered it a nuisance and tried to be rid of it because it seemed beyond his control. If he thought of an object it would appear before him exhibiting the appearance of solidity and massiveness. So greatly did these visions possess the attributes of actual objects that it was usually difficult for him to distinguish between vision and reality. This abnormal faculty functioned in a very useful fashion in his school work with mathematics.
If he was given a problem in arithmetic or algebra, it was immaterial to him whether he went to the blackboard to work it out or whether he remained in his seat. His strange faculty permitted him to see a visioned blackboard on which the problem was written, and there appeared on this blackboard all of the operations and symbols required in working out the solution.
Each step appeared much more rapidly than he could work it out by hand on the actual slate. As a result, he could give the solution almost as quickly as the whole problem was stated. His teachers, at First, had some doubts about his honesty, thinking he had worked out some clever deceit for getting the right answers. In due time their skepticism was dispelled and they accepted him as a student who was unusually apt at mental arithmetic. He would not reveal this power to anyone and would discuss it only with his mother, who in the past had encouraged him in his efforts to banish it. Now that the power had demonstrated some definite usefulness, though, he was not so anxious to be completely rid of it, but desired to bring it under his complete control.
Work that Tesla did outside school hours interested him much more than his school work. He was a rapid reader and had a memory that was retentive to the point, almost, of infallibility. He found it easy to acquire foreign languages. In addition to his native Serbo-Croat language he became proficient in the use of German, French and Italian.
This opened to him great stores of knowledge to which other students did not have access, yet this knowledge, apparently, was of little use to him in his school work. He was interested in things mechanical but the school provided no manual training course. Nevertheless, he became proficient in the working of wood and metals with tools and methods of his own contriving. In the classroom of one of the upper grades of the Real Gymnasium models of water wheels were on exhibition.
They were not working models but nevertheless they aroused Tesla's enthusiasm. They recalled to him the crude wheel he had constructed in the hills of Smiljan. He had seen pictures of the magnificent Niagara Falls. Coupling the power possibilities presented by the majestic waterfalls and the intriguing possibilities he saw in the models of the water wheels, he aroused in himself a passion to accomplish a grand achievement.
Waxing eloquent on the subject, he told his father, "Some day I am going to America and harness Niagara Falls to produce power. There were many books in his father's library. The knowledge in those books interested him more than that which he received in school and he wished to spend his evenings reading them. As in other matters, he carried this to an extreme, so his father forbade him to read them, fearing that he would ruin his eyes in the poor light of tallow candles then used for illumination.
Nikola sought to circumvent this ruling by taking candles to his room and reading after he was sent to bed, but his violation of orders was soon discovered and the family candle supply was hidden. Next he fashioned a candle mould out of a piece of tin and made his own candles. Then, by plugging the keyhole and the chinks around the door, he was able to spend the night hours reading volumes purloined from his father's bookshelves.
Frequently, he said, he would read through the entire night and feel none the worse for the loss of sleep. Eventual discovery, however, brought paternal discipline of a vigorous nature. He was about eleven years old at this time. Like other boys of his age he played with bows and arrows. He made bigger bows, and better, straighter shooting arrows, and his marksmanship was excellent. He was not willing to stop at that point. He started building arbalists. These could be described as bow-and-arrow guns.
The bow is mounted on a frame and the string pulled back and caught on a peg from which it is released by a trigger. The arrow is laid on the midpoint of the bow, its end against the taut string. The bow lies horizontal on the frame whereas in ordinary manual shooting the bow is held in vertical position. For this reason the device is sometimes called the crossbow. In setting an arbalist the beam is placed against the abdomen and the string pulled back with all possible force. Tesla did this so often, he said, that his skin at the point of pressure became calloused until it was more like a crocodile's hide.
When shot into the air the arrows from his arbalist were never recovered, for they went far out of sight. At close range they would pass through a pine board an inch thick. Tesla got a thrill out of archery not experienced by other boys. He was, in imagination, riding those arrows which he shot out of sight into the blue vault of the heavens. That sense of exhilaration he experienced when breathing deeply gave him such a feeling of lightness he convinced himself that in this state it would be relatively easy for him to fly through the air if he only could devise some mechanical aid that would launch him and enable him to overcome what he thought was only a slight remaining weight in his body.
His earlier disastrous jump from the barn roof had not disillusioned him. His conclusions were in keeping with his sensations; but a twelve-year-old lad exploring this difficult field alone cannot be condemned too severely for not discovering that our senses sometimes deceive us, or rather that we sometimes deceive ourselves in interpreting what our senses tell us. In breathing deeply he was overventilating his lungs, taking out some of the residual carbon dioxide which is chemical "ashes,'' and largely inert, and replacing it with air containing a mixture of equally inert nitrogen and very active oxygen.
The latter being present in more than normal proportions immediately began to upset chemical balances throughout the body. The reaction on the brain produces a result which does not differ greatly from alcohol intoxication. A number of cults use this procedure to induce "mystical'' or "occult'' experiences. How was a twelve-year-old boy to know all these things? He could see that birds did an excellent job in flying. He was convinced that some day man would fly, and he wanted to produce the machine that would get him off the ground and into the air.
The big idea came to him when he learned about the vacuum-a space within a container from which all air had been exhausted. He learned that every object exposed to the air was under a pressure of about fourteen pounds per square inch, while in a vacuum objects were free of such pressure. He figured that a pressure of fourteen pounds should turn a cylinder at high speed and he could arrange to get advantage of such pressure by surrounding one half of a cylinder with a vacuum and having the remaining half of its surface exposed to air pressure.
He carefully built a box of wood. At one end was an opening into which a cylinder was fitted with a very high order of accuracy, so that the box would be airtight; and on one side of the cylinder the edge of the box made a right-angle contact. On the cylinder's other side the box made a tangent, or flat, contact.
This arrangement was made because he wanted the air pressure to be exerted at a tangent to the surface of the cylinder-a situation that he knew would be required in order to produce rotation. If he could get that cylinder to rotate, all he would have to do in order to fly would be to attach a propeller to a shaft from the cylinder, strap the box to his body and obtain continuous power from his vacuum box that would lift him through the air. His theory of course was fallacious, but he had no means of knowing that at the time.
The workmanship on this box was undoubtedly of a very high order, considering it was made by a self-instructed twelve-year-old mechanic. When he connected his vacuum pump, an ordinary air pump with its valves reversed, he found the box was airtight, so he pulled out all the air, watching the cylinder intently while doing so. Nothing happened for many strokes of the pump except that it made his back lame to pull the pump handle upward while he created the most "powerful'' possible vacuum. He rested for a moment.
He was breathing deeply from exertion, overventilating his lungs, and getting that joyous, dizzy, light-as-air feeling which was a highly satisfactory mental environment for his experiment. Suddenly the cylinder started to turn-slowly! His experiment was a success! His vacuum-power box was working! He would fly! Tesla was delirious with joy. He went into a state of ecstasy. There was no one with whom he could share this joy, as he had taken no one into his confidence. It was his secret and he was forced to endure its joys alone.
The cylinder continued to turn slowly. It was no hallucination. It was real. It did not speed up, however, and this was disappointing. He had visualized it turning at a tremendous speed but it was actually turning extremely slowly. His idea, at least, he figured, was correct. With a little better workmanship, perhaps he could make the cylinder turn faster.
He stood spellbound watching it turn at a snail's pace for less than half a minute-and then the cylinder stopped. That broke the spell and ended for the time his mental air flights. He hunted for the trouble and quickly located what he was sure was the cause of the difficulty. Since the vacuum, he theorized, is the source of power, then, if the power stops, it must be because the vacuum is gone.
His pump, he felt sure, must be leaking air. He pulled up the handle. It came up easily and that meant very definitely he had lost the vacuum in the box. He again pumped out the air-and again when he reached a high vacuum the cylinder started to turn slowly and continued to do so for a fraction of a minute. When it stopped he again pumped a vacuum and again the cylinder turned. This time he continued to operate the pump and the cylinder continued to turn.
He could keep it turning as long as he desired by continuing to pump the vacuum. There was nothing wrong with his theory, as far as he could see. He went over the pump very carefully, making improvements which would give him a high vacuum, and studied the valve to make that a better guard of the vacuum in the box. He worked on the project for weeks but despite his best efforts he could get no better results than the slow movement of the cylinder. Finally the truth came to him in a flash-he was losing the vacuum in the box because the air was leaking in around the cylinder on that side where the flat board was tangent to the surface of the cylinder.
As the air flowed into the box it pulled the cylinder around with it very slowly. When the air stopped flowing into the box the cylinder stopped turning. He knew now his theory was wrong. He had supposed that even with the vacuum being maintained, and no air leaking in, the air pressure would be exerted at a tangent to the surface of the cylinder and the pressure would produce motion in the same way as pushing on the rim of a wheel will cause it to turn.
He discovered later, however, that the air pressure is exerted at right angles to the surface of the cylinder at all points, like the direction of the spokes of a wheel, and therefore it could not be used to produce rotation in the way he planned. This experiment, nevertheless, was not a total loss, even though it greatly disheartened him.
The knowledge that the air leaking into a vacuum had actually produced even a small amount of rotation in a cylinder remained with him and led directly, many years later, to his invention of the "Tesla turbine,'' the steam engine that broke all records for horsepower developed per pound of weight-what he called "a power house in a hat. Nature seemed to be constantly engaged in staging spectacular demonstrations for young Tesla, revealing to him samples of the secret of her mighty forces.
Tesla was roaming in the mountains with some chums one winter day after a storm in which the snow fell moist and sticky. A small snowball rolled on the ground quickly gathered more snow to itself and soon became a big one that was not too easy to move. Tiring of making snowmen and snow houses on level stretches of ground, the boys took to throwing snowballs down the sloping ground of the mountain.
Most of them were duds-that is, they got stalled in the soft snow before they accumulated additional volume. A few rolled a distance, grew larger and then bogged down and stopped. One, however, found just the right conditions; it rolled until it was a large ball and then spread out, rolling up the snow at the sides as if it were rolling up a giant carpet, and then suddenly it turned into an avalanche.
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Soon an irresistible mass of snow was moving down the steep slope. It stripped the mountainside clean of snow, trees, soil and everything else it could carry before it and with it. The great mass landed in the valley below with a thud that shook the mountain. The boys were frightened because there was snow above them on the mountain that might have been shaken into a downward slide, carrying them along buried in it.
This event made a profound impression on Tesla and it dominated a great deal of his thinking in later life. He had witnessed a snowball weighing a few ounces starting an irresistible, devastating movement of thousands of tons of inert matter. It convinced him that there are tremendous forces locked up in Nature that can be released in gigantic amounts, for useful as well as destructive purposes, by the employment of small trigger forces.
He was always on the lookout for such triggers in his later experiments. Tesla even as a boy was an original thinker and he never hesitated to think thoughts on a grand scale, always carrying everything to its largest ultimate dimension as a means of exploring the cosmos. This is demonstrated by another event that took place the following summer. He was wandering alone in the mountains when storm clouds started to fill the sky. There was a flash of lightning and almost immediately a deluge of rain descended on him. There was implanted in his thirteen-year-old mind on that occasion a thought which he carried with him practically all his life.
He saw the lightning flash and then saw the rain come down in torrents, so he reasoned that the lightning flash produced the downpour. The idea become firmly fixed in his mind that electricity controlled the rain, and that if one could produce lightning at will, the weather would be brought under control.
Then there would be no dry periods in which crops would be ruined; deserts could be turned into vineyards, the food supply of the world would be greatly increased, and there would be no lack of food anywhere on the globe. Why could he not produce lightning? The observation and the conclusions drawn from it by young Tesla were worthy of a more mature mind, and it would require a genius among the adults to have evolved the project of controlling the world's weather through such means. There was, however, a flaw in his observation.
He saw the lightning come First and the rain afterward. Further investigation would have revealed to him that the order of events was reversed higher in the air. It was the rain that came First and the lightning afterward up in the cloud. At this time there was planted in Tesla's mind the seed of a project which matured more than thirty years later when, in the mountains of Colorado, he actually produced bolts of lightning, and planned later to use them to bring rain. He never succeeded in convincing the U.
Patent Office of the practicability of the rain-making plan.