Nikola Tesla Articles
Taking On Einstein
Tesla disagreed with the findings of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in a number of ways. As far back as the turn of the century, he thought that he had intercepted cosmic rays emanating from the sun that attained velocities “vastly exceeding that of light.” In the last decade of his life he also claimed that these cosmic rays could be harnessed to generate electrical power. Tesla also saw radioactivity as evidence of the material body absorbing energy as much as it was giving it up.
On a separate front, the inventor stated that the impulses transmitted from his Wardenclyffe tower would also travel at velocities in excess of the speed of light. He likened the effect to the moon’s shadow spreading over the earth.
It is very difficult to explicate the first two speculations concerning tachyonic cosmic rays and radioactivity. However, with regard to the third claim, this suggestion that he transmitted energy at speeds in excess of the speed of light can be discussed from a variety of points of view.
As the earth has a diameter of roughly 25,000 miles, and light travels at about 186,000 miles/second, one can see that it would take light approximately 1/7th of a second to circle the earth. But does the earth itself exist in its own realm, that by the nature of its size transcends the speed of light? For example, does the north pole, interact/exist with the south pole instantaneously? If so, in a sense, the theory of relativity is violated as nothing, according to this theory, can “travel” faster than the speed of light.
Taking this concept a step further, does the solar system, or the galaxy, when perceived as a functional unit, interact with itself in some way that by necessity makes a mockery of the speed of light? (The galaxy, of course, is millions of lightyears long.) Certainly these systems have an orthorotational stability, and/or angular momentum which exists as a gestalt in a realm that transcends the speed of light.1
In an interview in 1933, Tesla discusses his view of electromagnetic energy:
The so-called Hertz waves are still considered a reality proving that light is electrical in its nature, and also that the ether is capable of transmitting transverse vibrations of frequencies however low. This view has become untenable since I showed that the universal medium is a gaseous body in which only longitudinal pulses can be propagated, involving alternating compressions and expansions similar to those produced by sound waves in the air. Thus, a wireless transmitter does not emit Hertz waves which are a myth, but sound waves in the ether, behaving in every respect like those in the air, except that, owing to the great elastic force and extremely small density of the medium, their speed is that of light.2
Tom Bearden, a retired colonel and war games analyst, writes that a Tesla wave can obtain infinite velocity because it is really a primary stress of the space/time grid itself. This he defines as being associated with the classical idea of the scalar field (a set of interrelated points in space). This scalar field, (and/or vector potential), we remember, was eliminated from Maxwell’s equations by Hertz to do away with the concept of action at a distance.3
Where a normal electromagnetic wave is transverse and proceeds as a vector from one point to another, a Tesla longitudinal wave theoretically produces an instantaneous disturbance of the entire scalar field and therefore achieves infinite velocities. The problem in understanding Tesla, Bearden says, occurs in the misunderstanding of basic definitions in physics regarding the terms scalar electrostatic potential (SEP) and voltage. Whereas voltage is a two-point function limited by lightspeed, the SEP is a one-point function and thus is an instantaneous interrelationship existing in space. The Tesla longitudinal wave is therefore fundamentally different than the normal electromagnetic wave.4
Charles Yost took a less exotic approach to solve the problem:
There has been some controversy over the fact that Tesla referred to a velocity faster than the speed of light. However, the ratio of the velocity given by Tesla [471,240 km/sec] and the actual speed of light [299,792 km/sec] is the same as π/2. Thus, the Tesla value is probably relating a circumference phase wave speed.5
Tesla appears to have actually been discussing two interrelated figures, one involved with the transmission of an electrical impulse straight through the earth to the antipode (i.e., the diameter which is about 8,000 miles), and also the coincident circumference impulse (about 25,000 miles).
Thus, if he were sending a resonant earth impulse through the planet from one end to the other, he was also saying that the effect would be simultaneously felt at all points around the circumference at the same time. This would therefore necessitate the requirement of velocities exceeding that of light.
Whether or not Tesla experimentally verified this cannot be ascertained by me. However, in US Patent Number 787,412, applied for on May 16, 1900, Tesla states:
I have estimated... 0.08484 of a second... as the time taken in passing to and returning from the region diametrically opposite the pole over the earth’s surface with a mean velocity of about 471,240 km/sec.
Today, we would interpret the 0.08484 second delay measurement as a determination of the range dependent parameter ß=.943 seconds, or more specifically, Tesla experimentally determined that
ħΩ = 2.061 x 107
where Ω is the conductivity parameter for the effective height, h, of the concentric shell model of the earth-ionosphere cavity.
This result is in pleasant agreement with present observations. [The Transient Propagation of ELF Pulses in the Earth-Ionosphere Cavity, by J. Corum and A-Hamid Adinejad, in the 1986 Int’l Tesla Symposium Proceedings, Steven Elswick (Ed), 1986, pp. 3-1 - 3-12].
The Structure of the Ether
On a body as large as the sun, it would be impossible to project a disturbance of this kind [e.g., radio broadcasts] to any considerable distance except along the surface. It might be inferred that I am alluding to the curvature of space supposed to exist according to the teachings of relativity, but nothing could be further from my mind.
I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved, is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view. - Nikola Tesla6
In Tesla’s model, a force-field would curve the light around large bodies.
These ideas were related to Tesla’s original theories on gravity which do not seem to have ever been published. They do coincide, however, with some of the most recent theories on physics, gravity and magnetism. E. Lerner, writing about “Magnetic Whirlwinds” in Science Digest in 1985, stated that “magnetism is as fundamental as gravity.” Citing the research and theories of plasma physicist A. Peratt of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lerner noted:
Astronomers using [a]... radio telescope [have]... observed filaments of gas arcing far above the galactic plane. These twisting spirals appeared to be held together by a magnetic field... stretching across 500 light years.... Such magnetic vortices [may] play a major role in the universe... as important... as gravitation.7
A mystery which Tesla did not investigate, but which was solved by Einstein, refers to the paradoxical findings of Michelson and Morley, namely that the ether appeared not to exist, and further that the velocity of light was unaffected by the velocity of its source.
For example, if a person were in a car travelling at 60 mph and he threw a ball forward at a speed of 35 mph, at the same time that another person standing on the sidewalk also threw a ball forward at 35 mph, the ball coming from the person in the car would be hurtling through space at a total velocity of 60+35 or 95 mph, whereas the other ball, thrown by the stationary person, would only be travelling 35 mph. However if these same two individuals turned on and directed a beam of light forward at the same time, both light beams would travel at the same velocity, namely 186,000 miles/sec. The movement of the car would not effect the speed of light one iota. This finding violates common sense, as one would expect that the beam coming from the car would be travelling 60 mph faster than the beam emanating from the stationary source.
Rather than try to rearrange the data to fit the common sense notion, Einstein simply concluded that the speed of light had to be constant (according to the formulas of Special Relativity). He further concluded that the ether of 19th century physics was not necessary, and that it could not be detected with 19th century methods. Although at the time a radical view, it was soon widely accepted, as it implied that there was nothing between the stars. This concept quickly became dogma as it helped solve a number of dilemmas. “Einstein did not disprove the existence of the ether.... He only stated [in Special Relativity] that whether or not it existed, light would always travel at the same speed.”8
From the perspective of popular science writers, “belief in the non-existence of the ether remained alive, but in actuality, by 1916, Einstein had replaced the old ether in his theory of General Relativity by curved space-time itself. Only, this new “ether” is no longer a medium in three-dimensional Euclidean space, but in four-dimensional non-Euclidean (curved) space-time.”9 It was this idea that was completely unacceptable to Tesla, and he criticized Einstein in the 1930’s because of it.
One area where they were in some agreement, however, had to do with the speculations of the German physicist Ernest Mach. Taking his ideas from monotheistic and Buddhist teachings, and from Isaac Newton, who suggested that all material bodies attract one another through gravity, Mach postulated that the mass of any material body, such as the earth, was dependent upon some type of gravitational force from all the stars. In other words, all effects in the Universe were related to all others.
Einstein wrote Mach to tell him that this idea was intrinsically related to his formulation of the Theory of Relativity. It should be noted that Einstein had really postulated two theories. The Special Theory of Relativity postulated in 1905, dealt with uniform motions. The General Theory of Relativity, dealt with motions speeding up and slowing down. Mach’s principle is linked to the general theory.
I have yet to find a direct quote by Tesla of Mach’s Principle, but in an article Tesla wrote in 1915, clearly based upon his writings of 1893, he states exactly this position:
There is no thing endowed with life - from man, who is enslaving the elements, to the humblest creature - in all this world that does not sway in turn. Whenever action is born from force, though it be infinitesimal, the cosmic balance is upset and universal motion results.10
It seems to me that the interconnectedness between all of the stars in the universe, (related to Einstein’s curved space/time), is the aether or a hierarchical dimension of it Further, each point in space (in a galaxy) codes for every other point as each contain the intersecting light from every star in the system. This idea is associated with holographic principles and the “enfolded order” where the whole is distributed throughout each part, as expounded by such theoreticians as David Bohm. See reference notes. Similarly, Tesla’s view of the ether aligned itself with that of the Theosophists:
Long ago [I] recognized that all perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, of a tenuity beyond conception and filling all space - the Akasa or luminiferous ether - which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never ending cycles, all things and phenomena.
The primary substance, thrown into infinitesimal whirls of prodigious velocity, becomes gross matter; the force subsiding, the motion ceases and matter disappears, reverting to the primary substance.11
Removing the spiritual component from “Akasa”, Tesla postulated that everything in the universe derived its energy from external sources. This corresponded to his model of the automata, which received commands from the electrician, and also of himself, as a human. Denying the Platonic concept of innate ideas (and also intrinsic motivation), as an Aristotelian (ie, believing in the idea of the tabula rasa) paradoxically, Tesla still assumed whole-heartedly in self-determination and the power of the will.
Each hierarchical entity in his system was not endowed with a soul, per se, but rather, a self-directed electrical component which moved by attraction or repulsion. As an non-psychologist, Tesla also negated, by necessity, the concept of the unconscious, the archetypes, and also the Id, as primary motivators. So, for instance, a dream would always ultimately derive from some extrinsic factor. However, unlike Einstein, who negated the mental component from his model concerning the primary forces of the universe, Tesla addressed this factor with his construction of the first prototype of a thinking machine, his telautomaton.
Einstein, however, did not negate the conscious component from his philosophy. According to December 22, 1985 a Washington Post [ 12/22/1985] article by E. Mallove entitled, “Einstein’s Intoxication with God and the Cosmos,” Einstein once stated:
I want to know how God created the world. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.
In essence, for Tesla, the mind was at its basis, a binary electrical system of attractions and repulsions, stimulated from an outside source, and wholly compatible with Pavlov’s stimulus-response reflex model for cognitive processes.
Tesla also differed with Einstein and the quantum physicists in his view of the structure of the elementary particles and the possible consequences caused by the smashing of atoms.
I have disintegrated atoms in my experiments with a high potential vacuum tube... operat[ing] it with pressures ranging from 4,000,000 to 18,000,000 million volts.... But as to atomic energy, my experimental observations have shown that the process of disintegration is not accompanied by a liberation of such energy as might be expected from present theories.12
To Tesla, the Theory of Relativity was just “a mass of error and deceptive ideas violently opposed to the teachings of great men of science of the past and even to common sense. The theory wraps all these errors and fallacies and clothes them in magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying error. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king. Its exponents are very brilliant men, but they are metaphysicists rather than scientists.”
Writing a decade before the explosion of the atom bomb, and ignoring the space curvature data from the 1919 eclipse and the explanation of Mercury’s anomalous orbit, which was explained by Einstein’s theory, Tesla suggested that the existence of a force field would account for the same mathematical results. Thus, Tesla brazenly concluded,
Not a single one of the relativity propositions has been proved.13
It would be shortsighted to simply judge “Tesla wrong and Einstein and the quantum physicists right” for at least two reasons. First, both Relativity and quantum theory have been established as incomplete, and in some sense, incompatible, theories on the structure of the universe. Heinz Pagels states in his book, the Cosmic Code:
A principle of physics that Einstein held even more dear than determinism was the principle of local causality - that distant events cannot instantaneously influence local objects without mediation. What the EPR [Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen] argument did... was to show that quantum theory violated causality. This finding startled most physicists, because they held the principle of local causality sacred. This mean that either quantum physics was incomplete or non-local events [i.e., instantaneous information transmission] occurred.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is also incomplete, as physicists have not, as yet, obtained a Grand Unification Theory based upon it. See, for instance “Einstein’s Dream,” by Gary Taubes, Discover, 12/1983, p. 48, whereby an 11 dimensional graviton (gravity particle) has been postulated as the ultimate particle to explain supergravity, quarks, electrons, etc.
The First Practical Telautomaton.
A machine having all its bodily or translatory movements and the operations of the interior mechanism controlled from a distance without wires. The crewless boat shown in the photograph contains its own motive power, propelling- and steering- machinery, and numerous other accessories, all of which are controlled by transmitting from a distance, without wires, electrical oscillations to a circuit carried by the boat and adjusted to respond only to these oscillations.
- Problem of Increasing Human Energy Nikola Tesla (1901-Century Magazine)
The second issue to be considered is that Tesla was discussing these phenomena from a different perspective that was not completely analogous to the one espoused by the theoretical physicists. In Colorado Springs, for instance, Tesla was generating over 4,000,000 volts, whereas only about 1,000,000 volts is required for separating electrons from the nucleus of an atom. Thus, Tesla was able to disintegrate atoms, ‘but in an entirely different way than that postulated by Einstein or the quantum physicists (for Tesla did not destroy the nucleus). No atomic explosion could ever occur with this type of apparatus. Tesla completely misunderstood the ramifications of Einstein’s equation E = MC2, and the corresponding suppositions of the equivalence of mass and energy. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the proof that tremendous amounts of power were locked inside the tiny space occupied by the nuclei of atoms.14
Concerning the curvature of space versus the idea of a force field, I discussed this point with Edwin Gora, Professor Emeritus, from Providence College. Gora, whose teachers include Werner Heisenberg and Arnold Sommerfeld, agreed that the two concepts might actually be different viable ways of describing the same thing. Furthermore, Tesla’s description of electromagnetic energy as being longitudinal, rather than transverse pulsations in the ether, is also comparable to Einstein’s description of light as quantum packets travelling through space.15
Tesla’s cosmological speculations remain intriguing and may yet prove in some way helpful in developing new theories based upon relativity or quantum physics as both of these theories appear to be incomplete. A large number of thinking physicists believe that an ether of sorts exists, and that forces of some type may transcend lightspeed. Whether or not the present building blocks for a grand unification theory are sufficient to derive ultimate formulas remains to be seen.16
- One need not resort to Bell’s theorem of non-locality, or instantaneous transference of information, or the new worm hole theories, each which suggest extra dimensions, to follow the argument as far as I have taken it.
- Pioneer radio engineer gives views on power. New York Herald Tribune, 9/11/1932; in J. Ratzlaff (Ed.). Tesla Said: Mibrae CA: Tesla Book Co., 1984, pp. 99-101.
- Seifer, Marc. Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla, Chapter 10: New York, NY: Birch Lane Press, 1996: “Deriving his clarifications more from theory than from actual experimentation, Hertz had created an elegant mathematical interpretation of Maxwell’s equations, but at the expense of some aspects of Maxwell’s theory, most notably vector and scalar potentials. In duplicating Hertz’ work, Tesla postulated that these components should not have been eliminated. What he tried to tell Hertz, and what he wrote a few months later, was that electromagnetic waves might ‘more appropriately [be] called electric sound-waves or sound-waves of electrified air?’”
- Bearden, T. Solutions to Tesla’s secrets and the Soviet Tesla weapon. In J. Ratzlaff, (Ed.). Solutions to Tesla’s Secrets. Millbrae, CA: Tesla Book Co., 1981.
- Yost C. Electrical weather forces: A Tesla vision. In E. Raucher & T. Grotz, (Eds), International 1984 Tesla Symposium. Colorado Springs, CO: 1984, pp. 77-88 (and mathematical equations).
- Tesla, Nikola. Pioneer radio engineer gives views on power. In J. Ratzlaff (Ed.), Tesla Said. Millbrae, CA: Tesla Book Company, 1984, pp. 240-242.
- Lerner, E. Magnetic whirlwinds. Science Digest, 6/1985, p. 26.
- Seifer, Marc. The universe is a holarchy. MetaScience, v.l, #1, Spring, 1979, pp. 92-100.
- Gora, Edwin. Physics Department Providence College, private correspondence, 1991.
- Tesla, Nikola, (1915), Lectures, Patents, Articles. Belgrade: Nikola Tesla Museum, 1956, p. A-172.
- Tesla, Nikola, 7/6/1930; J. Ratzlaff, (Ed.). Solutions to Tesla’s Secrets. Millbrae, CA: Tesla Book Company, 1981, p. 91.
- Tesla, Nikola. Radio power will revolutionize the world. Modern Mechanix & Invention, 7/1934, pp. 40-42; 117-119.
- Tesla, Nikola. Tesla, 79, promises to transmit force. New York Times, 7/11/1935, 23:8; in Tesla, Nikola, 1981, pp. 128-130.
- It would take approximately 55 million volts to vaporize carbon, but only 4.37 million volts to change carbon into helium, the latter case within the parameters Tesla was capable of achieving [calculations performed by E. Gora]. A pound of carbon, on the other hand, if converted into nuclear energy, could provide enough electricity to run the country for an entire month [from Coleman, 1958, p. 54]!
- Now, the prevailing view appears to be that electromagnetism, or light, can be seen as a “warping of the geometry of higher dimensional space.” Thus, where Einstein postulated 4 dimensions, three for space and one for time, Theodr Kaluza, a Russian mathematician writing in 1919, postulated an extra dimension, thereby marrying Einstein’s theory of gravity, which were the first three dimensions, and Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism, which was a fourth spatial dimension, all existing in time, which was the fifth dimension. This realm, which can also be called hyperspace, has been recently expanded to encompass 10, 16 and even 26 dimensions. See Hyperspace by Michio Kaku, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1994.
- There are literally thousands of references which discuss the inadequacy of relativity and present day quantum physics as complete theories. See for instance, Bohm, David. Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge & Kegan, 1980; Morris, Richard. Dismantling the Universe. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1983, etc.