Nikola Tesla Explaining His World Wireless System and How It Differs From Today’s.
A pre-hearing interview with his legal counsel in 1916 to protect his radio patents from the Guglielmo Marconi and the Marconi Company.
“This illustrates, on a larger scale, the earth. Here is my transmitter—mine or anybody’s transmitter—because my system is the system of the day. The only difference is in the way I apply it. They, the radio engineers, want to apply my system one way; I want to apply it in another way.”
“This is the circuit energizing the antenna. As the vibratory energy flows, two things happen: There is electromagnetic energy radiated and a current passes into the earth. The first goes out in the form of rays, which have definite properties. These rays propagate with the velocity of light, 300,000 kilometers per second. This energy is exactly like a hot stove. If you will imagine that the cylinder antenna is hot—and indeed it is heated by the current—it would radiate out energy of exactly the same kind as it does now. If the system is applied in the sense I want to apply it, this energy is absolutely lost, in all cases most of it is lost. While this electromagnetic energy throbs, a current passes into the globe.”
“Now, there is a vast difference between these two, the electromagnetic and current energies. That energy which goes out in the form of rays, is, as I have indicated here, unrecoverable, hopelessly lost. You can operate a little instrument by catching a billionth part of it but, except this, all goes out into space never to return. This other energy, however, of the current in the globe, is stored and completely recoverable. Theoretically, it does not take much effort to maintain the earth in electrical vibration. I have, in fact, worked out a plant of 10,000 horse-power which would operate with no bigger loss than 1 percent of the whole power applied; that is, with the exception of the frictional energy that is consumed in the rotation of the engines and the heating of the conductors, I would not lose more than 1 percent. In other words, if I have a 10,000 horsepower plant, it would take only 100 horsepower to keep the earth vibrating so long as there is no energy taken out at any other place.”
“There is another difference. The electromagnetic energy travels with the speed of light, but see how the current flows. At the first moment, this current propagates exactly like the shadow of the moon at the earth’s surface. It starts with infinite velocity from that point, but its speed rapidly diminishes; it flows slower and slower until it reaches the equator, 6,000 miles from the transmitter. At that point, the current flows with the speed of light—that is, 300,000 kilometers per second. But, if you consider the resultant current through the globe along the axis of symmetry of propagation, the resultant current flows continuously with the same velocity of light.”
“Whether this current passing through the center of the earth to the opposite side is real, or whether it is merely an effect of these surface currents, makes absolutely no difference. To understand the concept, one must imagine that the current from the transmitter flows straight to the opposite point of the globe.”
“There is where I answer the attacks which have been made on me. For instance, Dr. Pupin has ridiculed the Tesla system. He says,”
“The energy goes only in all directions.”
“It does not. It goes only in one direction. He is deceived by the size and shape of the earth. Looking at the horizon, he imagines how the currents flow in all directions, but if he would only for a moment think that this earth is like a copper wire and the transmitter on the top of the same, he would immediately realize that the current only flows along the axis of the propagation.”
“The mode of propagation can be expressed by a very simple mathematical law, which is, the current at any point flows with a velocity proportionate to the cosecant of the angle which a radius from that point includes with the axis of symmetry of wave propagation. At the transmitter, the cosecant is infinite; therefore, the velocity is infinite. At a distance of 6,000 miles, the cosecant is unity; therefore, the velocity is equal to that of light. This law I have expressed in a patent by the statement that the projections of all zones on the axis of symmetry are of the same length, which means, in other words, as is known from rules of trigonometry, that the areas of all the zones must also be equal. It says that although the waves travel with different velocities from point to point, nevertheless each half wave always includes the same area. This is a simple law, not unlike the one which has been expressed by Kepler with reference to the areas swept over by the radii vectors.”
“I hope that I have been clear in this exposition—in bringing to your attention that what I show here is the system of the day, and is my system—only the radio engineers use my apparatus to produce too much of this electromagnetic energy here, instead of concentrating all their attention on designing an apparatus which will impress a current upon the earth and not waste the power of the plant in an uneconomical process.”
“You say radio engineers put too much energy into the radiating part. What, as a matter of fact, according to your conception, is the part of the energy that is received in the receivers in the present system?”
“That has been investigated. Very valuable experiments have been made by Dr. Austin, who has measured the effects at a distance. He has evolved a formula in agreement with the Hertz wave theory, and the energy collected is an absolutely vanishing quantity. It is just enough to operate a very delicate receiver. If it were not for such devices as are now in use, the audion, for instance, nothing could be done. But with the audion, they magnify so that this infinitesimal energy they get is sufficient to operate the receiver. With my system, I can convey to a distant point millions of times the energy they transmit.”
“To illustrate my question, take for instance the energy used at Sayville and the reception of that at Nauen. I want to know whether it is your idea that the reception there is due to the earth currents that you have described or to the radiated energy.”
“It is far more due to the earth currents than to the radiated energy. I believe, indeed, that the radiated energy alone could not possibly produce the effect across the Atlantic. It is simply because they are incidentally sending a current through the globe—which they think is their current—that the receiver is affected. The current produces variations of potential at the earth’s surface in Germany; these fluctuations of potential energize the circuit, and by resonance they increase the potential there and operate the receiver. But I do not mean that it is absolutely impossible to use my apparatus and operate with electromagnetic waves across the Atlantic or Pacific. I only say that according to calculations, for instance, which I have made of the Sayville plant, the radiated energy is very small and cannot be operative. I have also calculated the distribution of the charge on the antenna. I am told that the Sayville antenna is without abrupt changes of capacity. It is impossible. There are changes even in a cylindrical antenna; but particularly in that form at Sayville—there are very abrupt changes…”
“From my circuit you can get either electromagnetic waves, 90 percent of electromagnetic waves if you like, and 10 percent in the current energy that passes through the earth. Or, you can reverse the process and get 10 percent of the energy in electromagnetic waves and 90 percent in energy of the current that passes through the earth... I am suppressing electromagnetic waves. In my system, you should free yourself of the idea that there is radiation, that the energy is radiated. It is not radiated; it is conserved.”
“Nikola Tesla On His Works With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, and Transmission of Power.” Twenty First Century Books, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2002.
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