A Machine to End War
"It will be possible to destroy anything approaching within 200 miles. My invention will provide a wall of power," declares Tesla.
Progress along such lines will be impossible while nations persist in the savage practice of killing each other off. I inherited from my father, an erudite man who labored hard for peace, an ineradicable hatred of war. Like other inventors, I believed at one time that war could he stopped by making it more destructive. But I found that I was mistaken. I underestimated man's combative instinct, which it will take more than a century to breed out. We cannot abolish war by outlawing it. We cannot end it by disarming the strong. War can be stopped, not by making the strong weak but by making every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself.Hitherto all devices that could be used for defense could also be utilized to serve for aggression. This nullified the value of the improvement for purposes of peace. But I was fortunate enough to evolve a new idea and to perfect means which can be used chiefly for defense. If it is adopted, it will revolutionize the relations between nations. It will make any country, large or small, impregnable against armies, airplanes, and other means for attack. My invention requires a large plant, but once it is established it will he possible to destroy anything, men or machines, approaching within a radius of 200 miles. It will, so to speak, provide a wall of power offering an insuperable obstacle against any effective aggression.
If no country can be attacked successfully, there can be no purpose in war. My discovery ends the menace of airplanes or submarines, but it insures the supremacy of the battleship, because battleships may be provided with some of the required equipment. There might still be war at sea, but no warship could successfully attack the shore line, as the coast equipment will be superior to the armament of any battleship.
I want to state explicitly that this invention of mine does not contemplate the use of any so-called "death rays." Rays are not applicable because they cannot be produced in requisite quantities and diminish rapidly in intensity with distance. All the energy of New York City (approximately two million horsepower) transformed into rays and projected twenty miles, could not kill a human being, because, according to a well known law of physics, it would disperse to such an extent as to be ineffectual.
My apparatus projects particles which may be relatively large or of microscopic dimensions, enabling us to convey to a small area at a great distance trillions of times more energy than is possible with rays of any kind. Many thousands of horsepower can thus be transmitted by a stream thinner than a hair, so that nothing can resist. This wonderful feature will make it possible, among other things, to achieve undreamed-of results in television, for there will be almost no limit to the intensity of illumination, the size of the picture, or distance of projection.
I do not say that there may not be several destructive wars before the world accepts my gift. I may not live to see its acceptance. But I am convinced that a century from now every nation will render itself immune from attack by my device or by a device based upon a similar principle.
At present we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age. The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine.
From: A Machine to End War
One hundred foot tall towers set along the perimeter of a country, each one capable of sending out a terrifying wall of coruscating electrical power that vaporizes enemy soldiers, tanks or planes at a range of 200 miles or more. When the Towers aren't blasting enemies into ashes, they provide power to domestic industry and light up everyone's house. It's an interesting scenario. If everyone has the ability to blast everyone else into smithereens, then perhaps they might look for some better ways to settle their differences--that's the line of reasoning at work here. It doesn't hold up. Consider the 1970s scifi movie Colossus: The Forbin Project that we recently featured. The US put its trust in a machine that would handle all the nuclear arsenal. Then the Soviets did the same. The two machines joined forces, became one integrated machine consciousness and used their total control of the nuclear weapons to institute a hyper-Orwellian dystopic tyranny that was far worse than the irrational craziness that preceded it. When people have the means to hurt one another equally, or to kill one another instantly, it will not level the imaginary playing field. Far from it. What it will do is usher in a terrifying era that will make the wild, wild west look like a Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello beach movie. There will always be people who want to cause pain, or who desire to lash out, who are irrational and willing to transgress--even driven to transgress the boundaries that most sane or rational people would consider uncrossable or unassailable.
Like many idealistic scientific explorers and inventors, Tesla was far more rational than most of the human population. That can be a real problem. It can also lead to conflicts and tension--and that makes for great stories and scenarios.
"I have made recent discoveries of inestimable value... The flying machine has completely demoralized the world, so much that in some cities, as London and Paris, people are in mortal fear from aerial bombing. The new means I have perfected afford absolute protection against this and other forms of attack. ... These new discoveries, which I have carried out experimentally on a limited scale, have created a profound impression. One of the most pressing problems seems to be the protection of London and I am writing to some influential friends in England hoping that my plan will be adopted without delay. The Russians are very anxious to render their borders safe against Japanese invasion and I have made them a proposal which is being seriously considered"Equip a really big Van de Graf generator with some of Tesla's unique Open-Ended Vacuum Tubes and you get the workings of a weapon that uses electrostatic repulsion to accelerate tungsten particles 48 times the speed of sound--or even faster, potentially. Tesla saw this as a defensive weapon, to be used in stopping the bombing of cities like London in WWII.
Tesla, in a letter to J. P. Morgan, dated Nov. 29, 1934
So what happens if some one of Tesla's correspondents in the UK funds his scheme and they roll out a set of prototype Teleforce Anti-Aircraft Weapons and suddenly the Luftwaffe can't come within a hundred miles of London without suffering horrendous casualties?
How long would it take Churchill and company to order the new Teleforce Weapons to be adapted to use in the field, perhaps mounted on tank chassis and sent into the field? The British could start planning to invade France from across the Channel under the protective fire of batteries of Tesla Coil Towers that sweep the skies entirely clear of German aircraft--the enemy planes literally melt in mid-air. British battleships could blast gun emplacements up to a hundred miles inland with coruscating sheets and fireballs of electrical mayhem produced by oscillation weapons tuned to the resonant frequencies of large masses of steel, allowing them to cause the munitions stored in their magazines to explode. There might not be any need for the US to get involved. At least not right away. Of course, Tesla had also been talking to the Russians...
Oscillation Weapons: Fireballs and Ball Lightning at a Distance
A fireball is a strange phenomenon associated with lightning. Some of the energy of the lightning stroke appears to become locked into a ball shaped structure which may be of any size from a couple of inches to a foot in diameter. It looks like a perfect sphere, brightly incandescent and floats like a bubble, being easily carried by air currents. They may last for a short time, from a fraction of a second to many seconds. In this interval, during which they stay fairly close to the ground, they may come close to many objects without damaging them or being damaged by them. Suddenly, for no known reason, the ball explodes doing as much damage as a bomb, if close to structures, and no damage if in the open.
The fireball looked to me like a gigantically enlarged model of the tiny electron, one of the building blocks of matter, which acts as if it were just a spherical area of space in which an amount of energy was crystallized to give it structure. I felt that if it were possible to discover how a large amount of energy was stored in this fairy bubble structure of a fireball a new insight might be gained into the structure of the electron and other fundamental particles of matter. Also this method of storing energy could be applied to a thousand useful purposes.
Tesla became familiar with the destructive characteristics of fireballs in his experiments at Colorado Springs in 1899. He produced them quite by accident and saw them, more than once, explode and shatter his tall mast and also destroy apparatus within his laboratory. The destructive action accompanying the disintegration of a fireball, he declared, takes place with inconceivable violence.
He studied the process by which they were produced, not because he wanted to produce them but in order to eliminate the conditions in which they were created. It is not pleasant, he related, to have fireballs explode in your vicinity for they will destroy anything they come in contact with.
Both quoted sections are from Tesla Tries to Prevent WWII
Being able to create fireballs that destroyed everything they touched was a major hassle for Tesla during his experiments in Colorado in 1899. He spent a lot of time and effort trying to eliminate such phenomena. But what would have happened if Tesla's Oscillation/Resonance Weapons and/or his Teleforce weapons were mounted on some of Preston Tucker's 'Tiger' combat cars and given to George Patton's 2nd Armored Division...talk about some serious Hell on Wheels...
Some Tesla Links
- Teleforce at wikipedia
- Electrical Oscillators--has some photos and diagrams
- One of the very, very best places to find Tesla's articles or articles about him & his work is Twenty First Century Books -- Includes The Tesla Canon
- Beam to Kill Army at 200 Miles
- Known Tesla Publications at Tesla Coil Builder's site
- Tesla Tidal Wave?
- Three Death-Ray articles Here, Here and Here (okay a fourth one)
- Zenneck Waves?
- Tesla's Egg of Columbus
- Wardenclyffe Tower at Wikipedia
- Wardenclyffe Tower at Wordsoup (nice photo)
- A Museum at Wardenclyffe?