Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Articles

Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Experiments in the Mountains

July, 1899
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About a quarter of a century past, books of “Familiar Science” were popular in certain of our institutions of learning, together with “Chronology,” taught as a separate branch, disassociated from events, - and Magnall’s Questions. The exhaustive study of “Ancient Geography” was also commended, and “a page of dictionary” was the invariable spelling lesson. Walker was the standard authority, and in his pages the present writer learned to spell music, “musick,” and sundry extra “u’s” and doubled consonants, which are fine old historical English, Isaac Pitman to the contrary notwithstanding. It was the special privilege of the book of “Familiar Science” to hurl disconnected facts at the scholar’s head - to pelt him with the arbitrary processes of nature - “Why does dew fall?” paraded arm in arm with “Why does a cat’s fur emit sparks when you stroke her in the dark?”

But the chief glory of the “Book of Familiar Science” was a full-page wood-cut of placid Benjamin Franklin, in broad-brim and gaiters, flying his scientific kite, and bringing lightning down from the skies by the aid of a large door key. The experiment marked the beginning of electrical science in America. “The knowledge of this world passeth away.”

In the first years of 1800, Lieutenant Pike camped at the foot of his great “Mexican mountain” - that “far blue cloud” which allured him over many a mile of wilderness march, and from his reports of discovery of Pike’s Peak and exploration at the head-waters of the Platte and Arkansas, began the exodus from the Missouri river - first over the Santa Fe trail direct - and then gradually diverted to the north, where “Pike’s Peak or Bust!” became the motto of the “’59er.”

The years to be dated 1800 are fast drawing to a close, and in spanning them in thought, with all their stirring happenings and marvellous achievements, not a hundred years later than Zebulon Pike, we find another discoverer camped at the foot of Pike’s Peak, armed with a more mighty key to electrical science than that of Poor Richard.

Nikola Tesla, the Servian scientist, whose electrical discoveries are not of one nation, but the pride of the world, has taken up his abode in Colorado Springs, where he will remain for some time conducting experiments in the medium of light air, and perpetual sunshine.

On East Pike’s Peak avenue, with limitless plains stretching to the eastward, and a panorama of mighty mountains sweeping away north and south, to the west - Tesla has caused to be constructed a station for scientific research. It is a building, which, when complete, will cover an area of from 50 to 60 feet, with an extension with two windows and a large door. The structure is about 18 feet high, and crowned with a large platform. The center of the building remains unroofed to permit the scientific apparatus to project above, and to be inspected and regulated from the surrounding balcony. The structure has been built according to Mr. Tesla’s own plans, and in telegraphing without wires from plain to mountain, or from mountain to plain, it would occupy an equally central situation.

It is said that Mr. Tesla’s experiments will take this direction, though he is, naturally, reticent upon these points, until he is assured, by the success of his experiments, that the results are prepared to meet the demands of the scientific world.

With Tesla’s wireless telegraph oscillator, he affirms he could talk to the inhabitants of the planet Mars, and will talk to the people of this earth, at any distance away, without the assistance of wires. Into the great oscillator Tesla will turn an ordinary current of electricity. The oscillator instantly transforms this electric current, by a series of coils, into an electro-motive force, vibrating at the rate of 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 times a second. This starts electric waves through the air and earth, which vibrate almost as fast as the waves that produce light, and travel with the same speed. These waves, like X-rays, pass through any dense substances, and, according to Tesla, there is nothing to prevent the transmission of messages by their aid directly through the earth. Tesla’s plan for cabling across the Atlantic is to erect two terminal stations, one in London and one in New York, with the oscillators placed at the top of high towers, communicating thence with great disks suspended in captive balloons floating 5,000 feet above the earth to catch the strata of rarefied air through which electrical waves travel most easily. A message could be flashed instantly by these lightning rays from the oscillator to the disk in the balloon, and across the thousands of miles of intervening space to the second disk. Cable tolls would be reduced to a minimum, and messages flashed around the world at little more than letter postage rates. Mr. Tesla says he is ready to put his wireless system into operation as soon as the practical details can be arranged.

In inter-planetary communication, however, it would be necessary to have a receiver upon the objective star, and it is also a pre-requisite that the inhabitant of Venus or Mars (if there he be) should - unlike some who wear the uniform in this sublunary sphere - “know enough to take a message.”

The oscillator, charged, seems like a vivid sphere, fairly radiating light and glorious possibilities. Who that has looked into the soft green depths of light, in the heart of which lies hidden the X-ray (to which matter is no longer opaque and impenetrable), has not felt that under the touch of electric light and force, power is limitless and the future boundless?

In Bulwer-Lytton’s novel of “The Coming Race,” the heroine was a “perfect woman, nobly planned,” on a superhuman scale. She and her sisters took the initiative in all good and wise achievement, while the men of the coming race somewhat lagged in the rear. By means of the “vril” staff, power was transmitted or arrested, in an incredible degree. The labor of the coming race was performed by automata, vivified and directed by the action of “vril,” according to the mind of him who held the staff. In the spirit of the woman who wished that “posterity was here - right now,” the employer of the present longs for the “vril” staff. There are so many, who, upon attempt of direction by the guiding mind, do the thing that is not wanted, in just the way that is not desirable or right.

Colorado, with her enfranchised women, opens a future for the sisterhood of the coming race. Tesla, in an interview with a representative of the Denver Republican, indicates that the day of “vril power” is not far distant.

“I would,” said Tesla, “light whole cities and give to mere machines all the motions of intelligence. I have given demonstrations of this discovery of mine before bodies of men of science many times, but they have found it difficult to believe me. I gave a demonstration of one experiment, which I think is the most beautiful I have ever tried. I think if I live a long life and work all the time I shall never have a more beautiful experiment than that. I had a boat without crew or captain, which I controlled merely by the force of my intelligence. I would will ‘turn,’ and it would turn, ‘go to the right,’ and it would go to the right, ‘to the left,’ it would go to the left. The beautiful thing about it was that it seemed to be instinct with life, and, as a dog obeys the commands of his master, so this machine obeyed mind. And yet, it was governed simply by electrical waves striking upon a receiver. And so with any machine.

“Why, I could make an automaton in the shape of a man that could walk, move, perform all the motions of a man, except wherein the fact of its not being an organic being would make a difference. All this theory is developed from my idea that the actions of all animate beings are governed by impressions of outside objects received upon the eye.

“My idea is that people are simply automata, governed by the transmission of circumstances surrounding them upon the eye. This,” said Nikola Tesla, solemnly, and with the greatest simplicity, “is the greatest idea of the age. The relations of nations will be affected by it. It will revolutionize thought. It may take years, but it will gradually come about. Men of science find it difficult to accept this idea. They cannot comprehend it. It is stupendous, and yet it is very simple.”

Colorado may be the theatre of the first exhibition of “vril.”

Mr. Tesla announces that he is at Colorado Springs, simply collecting experimental data. His instruments will shortly be mounted, and scientific work will begin. He has made similar experiments at different atmospheric levels, and the work here will be comparative.

Nikola Tesla is from the mountains of Servia, and his native tongue is Montenegrin. To those familiar with foreign types, he suggests the Pole - the grave and gentle temperament illumined by the flash of fire. He is very tall and slight, with thin and delicate features, black hair and mustache, and clear gray eyes. He speaks of himself and his work with simple modesty and reticence, in perfect English, with a slight foreign accent.

Mr. Leonard E. Curtis, a well-known member of the bar, who has been Tesla’s legal adviser, gave a banquet to the famous electrician at the El Paso Club, where twenty gentlemen of Colorado Springs were invited to meet him, including Governor Thomas, of Colorado. Tesla was in his happiest vein and spoke of his life and work. When first he heard of the great Niagara of the western hemisphere, he was impressed with its power - mighty, resistless force! Some day he would turn it to account. Years after he went to Buffalo, and in the great power plant at Niagara he saw machinery bearing the name of Tesla.

All who were present at the banquet felt, if it may be so stated without bathos, that they had “soared toward the empyrean,” for a glimpse of the glory that excelleth; the man in the midst of the fire; the controlling power,

“Half spirit and half bird.

And all a wonder and a wild desire.”



“Now shine your very brightest.” said Dame Nature to the Sun;

“Appear, ye flowers and leaflets, for winter’s course is run;

Let every rugged mountain peak in added grandeur rear;

Let everything look pleasant - for the tourist season’s near.”

(“Gazette,” Colorado Springs.)


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