Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tons of TESLA Links

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"

Tesla, in a letter to J. P. Morgan, dated Nov. 29, 1934
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.

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...

Great Balls of Fire
It is but a step, from learning how a high frequency current can explosively discharge a lower frequency current, to using the principle to design a system in which these explosions can be produced by intent.  The following process appears a possible one but no evidence is available that it is the one Tesla evolved: An oscillator, such as he used to send power wirelessly around the earth at Colorado Springs, is set in operation at a frequency to which a given warship is resonant.  The complex structure of a ship would provide a great number of spots in which electrical oscillations will be set up of a much higher frequency than those coursing through the ship as a whole.  These parasite currents will react on the main current causing the production of fireballs which by their explosions will destroy the ship, even more effectively than the explosion of the magazine which would also take place.  A second oscillator may be used to transmit the shorter wavelength current.

Consider the impact of a defense system that uses oscillation-type weapons to cause ammunition to explode at up to several hundred miles distance. In fact, according to some of Tesla's experiments and papers, he thought that it might be possible to cause an oscillation effect at any point on the Earth if one could just calculate and attune the pulse to the proper resonance. It's not quite a death-ray, nor really a force field, but it combines the nastier aspects of both into a powerful curtain of electrical energy that would necessitate a whole new kind of arms race to develop some sort of counter-measure or way to defeat or beat the oscillation-weapons. Burrowing torpedoes? Completely non-metallic zeppelins filled with harmless inert chemicals that form toxic clouds of killing gas when mixed? Counter-oscillation devices that set-up destructive dissonances within the defense-broadcasters?

Whatever form they might take, there will be counter-measures. There will be war. Weapons always have a way of getting used, just like secrets have a way of getting revealed.

Some Tesla Links
Ten Tesla Publications
  1. A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers (Delivered before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, May 1888.)
  2. On Light and Other High Frequency Phenomena (Delivered before the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, February 1893, and before the National Electric Light Association, St. Louis, March 1893.) [Includes: On Electrical Resonance]
  3. Tesla's Oscillator and Other Inventions (Century Magazine, April 1895, pp. 916-933.)
  4. Plans to Dispense with Artillery of the Present Type (The Sun, New York, November 21, 1898) [Includes reference to: telautomaton: see picture here.]
  5. Tesla Describes His Efforts in Various Fields of Work (Electrical Review - New York - Nov, 30, 1898/The Sun, New York, November 21, 1898)
  6. Earth Electricity to Kill Monopoly (The World Sunday Magazine — March 8, 1896)
  7. Electrical Drive for Battleships (New York Herald, February 25, 1917)
  8. The Wonder World to be Created by Electricity (Manufacturer's Record, September 9, 1915)
  9. Mister Tesla's Vision (New York Times, April 21, 1908)
  10. The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires (Electrical World and Engineer, March 5, 1904)

Some Random-ish Tesla-ness to spark some ideas...

A Terrifying Thought:
"When I spoke of future warfare I meant that it should be conducted by direct application of electrical waves without the use of aerial engines or other implements of destruction.  This means, as I pointed out, would be ideal, for not only would the energy of war require no effort for the maintenance of its potentiality, but it would be productive in times of peace.  This is not a dream.  Even now wireless power plants could be constructed by which any region of the globe might be rendered uninhabitable without subjecting the population of other parts to serious danger or inconvenience."

Communicating With the Martians
"At the present stage of progress, there would be no insurmountable obstacle in constructing a machine capable of conveying a message to Mars, nor would there be any great difficulty in recording signals transmitted to us by the inhabitants of that planet, if they be skilled electricians. Communication once established, even in the simplest way, as by a mere interchange of numbers, the progress toward more intelligible communication would be rapid. Absolute certitude as to the receipt and interchange of messages would be reached as soon as we could respond with the number "four," say, in reply to the signal "one, two, three." The Martians, or the inhabitants of whatever planet had signaled to us, would understand at once that we had caught their message across the gulf of space and had sent back a response. To convey a knowledge of form by such means is, while very difficult, not impossible, and I have already found a way of doing it.
What a tremendous stir this would make in the world! How soon will it come? For that it will some time be accomplished must be clear to every thoughtful being."

Electric Gun
The present international conflict is a powerful stimulus to invention of destructive devices and implements. An electric gun will soon be brought out. The wonder is that it was not invented long ago. Dirigibles and aeroplanes will be furnished with small electric generators of high tension, from which the deadly currents will be conveyed through thin wires to the ground. Battleships and submarines will be provided with electric and magnetic feelers so delicate that the approach of any body under water or in darkness may be easily detected. Torpedoes and floating mines will direct themselves automatically and without fail get in fatal contact with the object to be destroyed - in fact, these are almost in sight. The art of telautomatics, or wireless control of automatic machines at a distance, will play a very important role in future wars and, possibly, in the later phases of the present one. Such contrivances, which act as if endowed with intelligence, may take the shape of aeroplanes, balloons, automobiles, surface, or underwater boats, or any other form according to the requirement in each special case. They will have far greater ranges and will be much more destructive than the implements now employed. I believe that the telautomatic aerial torpedo will make the large siege gun, on which so much dependence is now placed, utterly obsolete.

"The 'Ulivi ray' really was transplanted from this country to Italy," asserted Dr. Tesla. "It was simply an adaptation of my ultra-powerful high-frequency phenomena as carried out in Colorado and cited previously. With a powerful oscillator developing thousands of horsepower it would become readily possible to detonate powder and munition magazines by means of the high frequency currents induced in every bit of metal, even when located five to six miles away and more. Even a powder can would have a potential of 6,000 to 7,000 volts induced in it at that distance.
"At the time of those tests I succeeded in producing the most powerful X-rays ever seen. I could stand at a distance of 100 feet from the X-ray apparatus and see the bones of the hand clearly with the aid of a fluoroscope screen; and I could have easily seen them at a distance several times this by utilizing suitable power. In fact, I could not then procure X-ray generators to handle even a small fraction of the power I had available. But I now have apparatus designed whereby this tremendous energy of hundreds of kilowatts can be successfully transformed into X-rays."

Dashing Cherished Scientific Illusions
"I resumed the work very much encouraged and from that date to 1896 advanced slowly but steadily, making a number of improvements the chief of which was my system ofconcatenated tuned circuits and method of regulation, now universally adopted.  In the summer of 1897 Lord Kelvin happened to pass thru New York and honored me by a visit to my laboratory where I entertained him with demonstrations in support of my wireless theory.  He was fairly carried away with what he saw but, nevertheless, condemned my project in emphatic terms, qualifying it as something impossible, "an illusion and a snare." I had expected his approval and was pained and surprised.  But the next day he returned and gave me a better opportunity for explanation of the advances I had made and of the true principles underlying the system I had evolved.  Suddenly he remarked with evident astonishment: "Then you are not making use of Hertz waves?" "Certainly not," I replied, “these are radiations”.  No energy could be economically transmitted to a distance by any such agency.  In my system the process is one of true conduction which, theoretically, can be effected at the greatest distance without appreciable loss." I can never forget the magic change that came over the illustrious philosopher the moment he freed himself from that erroneous impression.  The skeptic who would not believe was suddenly transformed into the warmest of supporters.  He parted from me not only thoroly convinced of the scientific soundness of the idea but strongly exprest his confidence in its success.  In my exposition to him I resorted to the following mechanical analogues of my own and the Hertz wave system."

Cheapness of Gasoline
Some experts, whom I have credited with better knowledge, have for years contended that my proposals to transmit power without wires are sheer nonsense but I note that they are growing more cautious every day.  The latest objection to my system is found in the cheapness of gasoline.  These men labor under the impression that the energy flows in all directions and that, therefore, only a minute amount can be recovered in any individual receiver.  But this is far from being so.  The power is conveyed in only one direction, from the transmitter to the receiver, and none of it is lost elsewhere.  It is perfectly practicable to recover at any point of the globe energy enough for driving an airplane, or a pleasure boat or for lighting a dwelling.  I am especially sanguine in regard to the lighting of isolated places and believe that a more economical and convenient method can hardly be devised.  The future will show whether my foresight is as accurate now as it has proved heretofore.


  1. Wow, excellent and thorough article on Tesla. I did some research into this weapon once. Kind of made my skin crawl.

  2. I love reading anything and everything about Tesla. That last paragraph, especially, was rather interesting. Ah, the cheapness of gasoline...I don't think we have that problem anymore.

  3. @M Pax: Thanks--we're still digging through a lot of notes and hope to do more on Tesla down the road, including a selection of Tesla-Inspired weapons for Terminal Space/Humanspace Empires over at Netherwerks. The Oscillation weapons are really creepy--creating fireballs at a distance...

    @Emily White: Welcome! There is a Lot to read through out there for Tesla. A Lot. We're still digging through a bunch of stuff.

    If anyone out there can suggest some particularly good Tesla links that we missed, we'd really appreciate knowing about them!

  4. So that's how the Romulans did it. They had the help of Tesla! Grabs copy of The Tesla Papers


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