Cloudborn Electric Wavelets To Encircle The Globe
Nicola Nikola Tesla’s Latest Dream, and the Long Island Hamlet of Wardenclyffe Marvels Thereat.
To gather in the latent electricity in the clouds and with the globe itself as a medium of transmission to convey telegraphic messages, power for commercial purposes, or even the sound of the human voice to the utmost confines of the earth is the latest dream of Nikola Tesla.
In an article which appeared recently in The Electrical World Mr. Tesla explains the theories on which the world telegraphy system is founded and what he expects to accomplish by it. His plans involve the establishment of stations for the transmission of messages and power, “preferably near important centers of civilization.” Oddly enough, what Mr. Tesla proudly designates as the first of his commercial “world telegraphy” stations has been established at Wardenclyffe, L. I., which is not in any sense an important “centre of civilization,” but a place described by train hands of the Long Island Railroad as a way station where “a passenger alights occasionally.”
The transmitting station is an octagonal tower, pyramidal in shape, and some 180 feet in height. It consists of huge wooden stilts, heavily braced, and reinforced, and surmounted by a cupola of interlaced steel wires, bent so as to form an arc. In the cupola there is a wooden platform occupying its entire width.
Mr. Tesla began work on his transmitting station about eighteen months ago. When he first came there, and it was understood that J. Pierpont Morgan had become interested in his odd enterprise and furnished him with financial assistance, a thrill of vague expectancy ran through the little settlement, The Wardenclyffe Land Company, which owns practically all the available ground in the vicinity, gave the inventor a free grant of some 175 acres of fine land, and then settled down to wait for the day when Wardenclyffe would become the centre of the universe.
Some of the farmers who come to Wardenclyffe to send their products to this city look at Mr. Tesla’s tower, which is situated directly opposite the railroad station, and shake their heads sadly. They are inclined to take a skeptical view regarding the feasibility of the wireless “world telegraphy” idea, but yet Tesla’s transmitting tower as it stands in lonely grandeur and boldly silhouetted against the sky on a wide clearing on the concession is a source or great satisfaction and of some mystification to them all.
“It is a mighty fine tower,” said one food farmer to a visitor last week. “The breeze up there is something grand of a Summer evening, and you can see the Sound and all the steamers that go by. We are tired, though, trying to figure out why he put it here instead of at Coney Island.”
While the tower itself is very “stagey” and picturesque, it is the wonders that are supposed to be hidden in the earth underneath it that excite the curiosity of the population in the little settlement. In the centre of the wide concrete platform which serves as a base for the structure there is a wooden affair very much like the companionway on an ocean steamer. The tower and the inclosure in which it has been built are being carefully guarded these days, and no one except Mr. Tesla’s own men are allowed to approach it. Only they have been allowed as much as the briefest peep down the companionway.
Mr. Scherff, the private secretary of the inventor, told an inquirer that the companionway led to a small drainage passage built for the purpose of keeping the ground about the tower dry. But such of the villagers as saw the tower constructed tell a different story.
They declare that it leads to a well-like excavation as deep as the tower is high with walls of mason work and a circular stairway leading to the bottom. From there, they say, tunnels have been built in all directions, until the entire ground below the little plain on which the tower is raised has been honeycombed with subterranean passages.
They tell with awe how Mr. Tesla, on his weekly visits to Wardenclyffe, spends as much time in the underground passages as he does on the tower or in the handsome laboratory and workshop erected beside it, and where the power plant for the world telegraph has been installed.
No instruments have been installed as yet in the transmitter, nor has Mr. Tesla given any description of what they will be like. But in his article he announces that he will transmit from the tower an electric wave of a total maximum activity of ten million horse power. This, he says, will be possible with a plant of but 100 horse power, by the use of a magnifying transmitter of his own invention and certain artifices which he promises to make known in due course.
What he expects to accomplish is summed up in the closing paragraph as follows:
“When the great truth, accidentally revealed and experimentally confirmed, is fully recognized, that this planet, with all its appalling immensity, is to electric currents virtually no more than a small metal ball and that by virtue of this fact many possibilities, each baffling imagination and of incalculable consequence, are rendered absolutely sure of accomplishment; when the first plant is inaugurated and it is shown that a telegraphic message, almost as secret and non-interferable as a thought, can be transmitted to any terrestrial distance, the sound of the human voice, with all its intonations and inflections faithfully and instantly reproduced at any other point of the globe, the energy of a waterfall made available for supplying light, heat or motive power, anywhere — on sea, or land, or high in the air — humanity will be like an ant heap stirred up with a stick. See the excitement coming!”