Category: invention

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“TESLA’S RAY.”

Time, July 23rd, 1934.

He has produced nothing tangible for a long time, but he still remains one of the foremost living inventors of electrical apparatus. His day comes once a year. On his birthday Manhattan newshawks seek him out in some hotel, listen closely to his words. Wearing an outmoded brown suit, he received the Press one day last week in a Hotel New Yorker reception room. That day Nikola Tesla was 78.

"The first thing Nikola Tesla invented was a hook for catching frogs. That was not long after he learned to talk, in the Croatian hamlet of Smiljan where he was born. He studied physics and mathematics at two universities, got into telegraph engineering, went to Budapest, to Paris, to the U. S. in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. Soon he had a research laboratory of his own. Four years later he patented the induction motor, first effective utilization of alternating current. He discovered the rotary magnetic field principle used today in the hydroelectric plants at Niagara Falls. He invented dynamos, transformers, induction coils, condensers, arc and incandescent lamps. He was acclaimed a great genius.

"All that was long ago and Tesla has lingered on into a twilight of semi-obscurity. His hotel room is now his only laboratory, his brain his only tool. When callers importune him he takes a bath or goes to bed. When he talks about his work his deep-set blue eyes burn with an icy fire. He walks prodigious distances through the city streets. His most valued friends are the New York Public Library’s somnolent pigeons. A life-long bachelor, Dr. Tesla is tall, spare, erect, parchment-skinned, beak-nosed. The mustache he once wore is gone.

"Even at the peak of his renown he had great visions. In 1900 he was ready to cure tuberculosis with oscillating electricity. In 1909 he promised motors capable of driving ocean liners at 50 knots. In 1911 it was storm-proof dirigibles without propellers. In the last decade his annual utterances have been mostly rehashes of previous interviews, with something new every three or four years. In 1924 he was planning to transmit power by radio. In 1927 he was scheming to harness sea power. In 1931 he would make all fuels superfluous by tapping cosmic energy. Last week Dr. Tesla announced a combination of four inventions which would make war unthinkable.

"Nucleus of the idea is a death ray — a concentrated beam of sub-microscopic particles flying at velocities approaching that of light. The beam, according to Tesla, would drop an army in its tracks, bring down squadrons of airplanes 250 miles away. Inventor Tesla would discharge the ray by means of: 1) a device to nullify the impeding effect of the atmosphere on the particles; 2) a method for setting up a high potential; 3) a process for amplifying that potential to 50,000,000 volts; 4) creation of “a tremendous electrical repelling force.” Two of these are complete in Dr. Tesla’s mind. The other two await minor details.

"Dr. Tesla pointed out that the weapon is purely one of defense, since his beam must be generated in great immovable power plants. With generators set up on all the world’s national boundaries, no country would ever again be able to attack another. Further details, said Dr. Tesla, would be unfolded before the Geneva Disarmament Conference.

"The death ray, always exciting to laymen, is an old familiar to scientists. After the interplanetary “space ship,” it is probably the most popular gadget in pseudoscientific fiction. Even in Herbert George Wells’s shrewdly written War of the Worlds (1898), the first act of arriving Martians is to spray spectators with a death beam. In real life death rays have been announced time & again, but never convincingly demonstrated. When one Harry Grinnell-Matthews loudly announced a death ray some years ago in England, Physicist Robert Williams Wood of Johns Hopkins said he would stand 65 ft. from the apparatus and invite Mr. Grinnell-Matthews to turn on his radiations full blast. Last month in Omaha the Inventors’ Congress was informed by its President Albert G. Burns that he had witnessed a death ray demonstration staged by a Clevelander named Antonio Longoria. Rabbits, dogs and cats, said President Burns, were killed instantly, their blood turned to water. But Inventor Longoria said he would withhold his secret until invasion threatened the U. S.

"Excellent is Dr. Tesla’s health, but he looks now & then beyond the grave. When he is reminded that in some quarters his pronouncements are written off as senile hallucinations. he replies with simple dignity: “The opinion of the world does not affect me. I have placed as the real values in my life what follows when I am dead.”

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“PLANS TO DISPENSE WITH ARTILLERY OF THE PRESENT TYPE.”

by Nikola Tesla

Referring to my latest invention [the telautomaton], I wish to bring out a point which has been overlooked. I arrived, as has been stated, at the idea through entirely abstract speculations on the human organism, which I conceived to be a self-propelling machine, the motions of which are governed by impressions received through the eye. Endeavoring to construct a mechanical model resembling in its essential, material features the human body, I was led to combine a controlling device, or organ sensitive to certain waves, with a body provided with propelling and directing mechanism, and the rest naturally followed. Originally the idea interested me only from the scientific point of view, but soon I saw that I had made a departure which sooner or later must produce a profound change in things and conditions presently existing. I hope this change will be for the good only, for, if it were otherwise, I wish that I had never made the invention. The future may or may not bear out my present convictions, but I can not refrain from saying that it is difficult for me to see at present how, with such a principle brought to great perfection, as it undoubtedly will be in the course of time, guns can maintain themselves as weapons. We shall be able, by availing ourselves of this advance, to send a projectile at much greater distance, it will not be limited in any way by weight or amount of explosive charge, we shall be able to submerge it at command, to arrest it in its flight, and call it back, and send it out again and explode it at will, and, more than this, it will never make a miss, since all chance in this regard, if hitting the object of attack were at all required, is eliminated. But the chief feature of such a weapon is still to be told; namely, it may be made to respond only to a certain note or tune, it may be endowed with selective power. Directly such an arm is produced, it becomes almost impossible to meet it with a corresponding development. It is this feature, perhaps more than in its power of destruction, that its tendency to arrest the development of arms and to stop warfare will reside.”

“With renewed thanks, I remain,

Very truly yours,

N. Tesla.

"New York, November 19, 1898.

(The Sun, New York, November 21, 1898.)

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NIKOLA TESLA: THE FIRST JEDI

Method of Lighting Wireless Vacuum Tubes Devoid of Any Electrodes Placed In An Alternating Electrostatic Field.

In 1891, just before becoming an American citizen, Nikola Tesla was asked to lecture before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers at the Columbia University in New York. He performed experiments with alternating currents of very high frequency and left an audience of America’s greatest engineers spell-bound as he demonstrated a new theory of light. This lecture would be the first public demonstration of transmitting wireless energy making Tesla the true father of radio and wireless power.

Throughout his investigations of alternating currents of very high frequency phenomena, Tesla satisfied himself with the conclusion that light bulbs using carbon filaments were inferior and that an electric field of sufficient intensity could be made to fill a room and light electrodeless vacuum tubes. This was done by connecting two large sheets of zinc to the terminal of the circuit with the sheets being spread apart about fifteen feet away from each other. The sheets served as condensers, and both received the charge of electricity from the wires connecting the sheets to the transformer creating an electric field between the two. Tesla would then introduce vacuum tubes and place them between the zinc sheets–illuminating the tubes and lighting the room. He waved the vacuum tubes around like a Jedi showcasing the first light sabers, and the tubes continued to glow as long as they remained in the electric field.

He accomplished this by upping the speed of his dynamo, transforming his alternating currents into a continuous flow of static currents. This allowed him to pass a large amount of energy from sheet to sheet, or even through his body, without any harm. To help better explain this, direct currents carry an electric charge along a conductor which travel in one single direction, like a straight line, while the charge in AC alternate back and forth in waveform. Both are extremely dangerous! Static currents, on the other hand, are stationary with no movement. Tesla would speed up his AC so fast that they would transform into a static current, allowing him to create a static field of electricity capable of lighting his wireless bulbs.

The electrical wizard went on to show the absolute harmlessness of his electric system by passing thousands of volts of electricity through his body–lighting light bulbs and shooting sparks out of his finger tips.

These amazing demonstrations would set Tesla apart from the rest of the scientific world, and the inventor would be showered with awards and invitations from all around the world begging him to share his work.

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