Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Articles

Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Tesla Perfecting a War Engine

May 1st, 1898

Electrical Device to Destroy the Enemy's Fleets and Armies.


He Will Offer the Destroying Agency to the Government-Another Scientist Comments Favorably on the Inventor's Scheme.


New York, April 30. - I am perfecting an electrical engine of war which I am about to offer to the Government. It is to exert such a terrible force as to disable warships, and powerfully affect vast armies on land at great distances.

If this device acts as effectively on a large scale as it does in my laboratory, the results will be incalculable. When put into operation, it will tend to bring war to a speedy end by reason of its unlimited power of extermination.

It is the application of the principle of oscillating waves. By. this means electrical currents of high potentials can be sent out in all directions, and aimed against the vulnerable part of a hostile army, or warship.

Five years ago I discovered that electrical vibrations produced by a novel kind of apparatus, which I have since considerably improved, may be propagated through the earth and through the air, and from experimental data I have calculated that such vibrations can be propelled a distance equal to the diameter of the earth. To effect this an expenditure of energy of about 500-horse power is needed, although this estimate may not be quite true, as there are a number of uncertain quantities in the calculation.

I intended to use the principle primarily for the transmission of signals over great distances, but soon I saw that something of greater importance could be accomplished by its use.

The only way to insure the action was to construct apparatus on novel principles, which would make possible the production of waves of many hundred times greater intensity.

I foresaw long ago that despite the strenuous efforts of the President to maintain peace, war would break out, and I have concentrated my energies upon perfecting these devices and rendering them immediately available.

This, in fact, is the only reason why I have now, up to this time, offered my services as a volunteer, which I certainly would have done under other circumstances. In this respect, I may say, I have already formed definite plans.

Although the United States have taken energetic measures and are determined to bring the difficulty to a speedy termination, I fear that the war will be prolonged, and it will become all the more important to apply improved electrical measures and contrivances.


The great naval war between the United States and Spain, which bids fair to make the close of the Nineteenth Century forever memorable, may, if Mr. Nikola Tesla is able to fulfill his promise as stated above, also mark the greatest advance-in-the-art and science of destruction that war has ever known. For several years, now the public has been familiar with the fact that Mr. Tesla has been able to produce by means of an instrument called the electrical oscillator a vibratory force capable of causing brilliant lights to burst forth in the center of a room without material connection with any electrical instrument, and electro-magnetic phenomena to manifest themselves at a great distance from the oscillator and without connection with it by wire or otherwise.

More recently great attention has been aroused by the experiments. of Mr. Tesla; of Senor Marconi, an Italian; of Mr. W. J. Clarke of this city, and others, in the transmission of telegraphic dispatches without wires. Dispatches of this kind have been sent from a distance, of not less than 12 miles. The practical principle underlying all of these surprising experiments is that which is now invoked by Mr. Tesla in the invention of an instrument of war quite as potent and wonderful as some of the devices which have recently been suggested in stories of mimic warfare. But up to the outbreak of the present hostilities with Spain no one had apparently thought of turning this tremendous and mysterious power to other than peaceful uses.

There seems good reason to hope that early in the coming century it might become possible to do away entirely, with cumbersome telegraph wires and that houses and city streets and squares might be filled with artificial daylight without the aid of the elaborate apparatus at present employed.

Almost everybody familiar with the experiments going on in the laboratories of Mr. Tesla and the other great inventors has been looking forward to the day of a new era in electrical science, an era which would mark as great an advance in the condition of the world as anything that, has ever occurred in its history.

But it now appears these new potencies are to be turned to an unexpected and even terrible employment. In the electrical exhibition to be given in this city the coming week the public will have an opportunity to see the application of the invisible electrical oscillations to the firing of cannon and the blowing up of models of ships. This is wireless telegraphy in a new form.

The invisible waves of electricity, radiating from their source, carry; not information, but destruction. It will only be necessary, according to the belief of the inventors, to increase the power and range of the oscillations in order that what is done with toy vessels in the exhibition hall may be accomplished with actual ships of war invading the harbor of New York or met in the open sea.

On account of the intense interest which Mr. Tesla's declaration is certain to awaken, it important to point out how far the application of the electrical oscillator for use as an instrument of war, has practically progressed, and what remains yet to be done. From a central station on the shore, or from a ship of war, it is possible to send forth, without the aid of wires, electrical oscillations in widening circles, like waves in water, to an effective distance of several miles. Anywhere within the radius of such waves, an electric spark can be produced by means of a proper instrument or receiver, But an enemy's warship cannot be expected to contain such a receiver, and particularly, not in such a position that a spark from it could reach the ship's powder.

The problem remaining to be solved is how to produce electric sparks within the radius of influence of the oscillatory waves without the existence of a transforming instrument at the receiving end. Both Mr. Tesla and Mr. Clark, who have worked independently upon this matter, assert their belief that it will be possible to produce such sparks. Not only so, but these gentlemen speak of the problem in a manner which gives reason to hope that the solution will not be long deferred.

It may even be possible to focus the oscillations on a particular ship. In that case air danger of exploding our own mines and magazines in the neighborhood would be eliminated.

Supposing this final problem solved, then the situation of affairs will be as follows: An enemy's fleet is seen approaching the harbor. One or more electric oscillators; placed in a commanding position on headlands or on anchored ships of war, are prepared for their deadly work.

The enemy approaches with flags flying. cleared for action, conscious of overpowering numbers in his favor, confident of success. Perhaps by means of some of the appliances now existing for that purpose ho may have cleared the channel of mines and believes he can enter the harbor in safety. On come the battleships, volumes of black smoke rolling backward in the breeze, their guns glittering-a fearful spectacle. They are prepared for hostile shots, sand. expect them, but none comes. The great batteries of Sandy Hook are silent. There is no thunder from the gigantic mortars in the sandpits.

The Yankee pigs are afraid to shoot," says the Admiral of the Spanish Squadron; "the mere sight of a Spaniard has terrified them. In two hours, gentlemen of Spain, the great city of the New World-will be. ours."

But at this moment, unknown and invisible to the Spanish commander and his men, Mr. Tesla has touched an electric button. Likewise invisible, but with the speed of light, electric oscillations expand over the bay, Unnoticed they penetrate the steel sides of one of the Spanish ships, and little blue sparks play through its magazines.

Bang! Boom! Bang! The great steel hull leaps, bursts and is scattered far and wide on the foam-beaten waters.

The Spanish commander does not understand what has happened. He believes the magazines of the ship have blown up of their own accord. Perhaps he recalls the insulting words of the Spanish "report" on the blowing up of the Maine, and wonders. whether there has not been some "carelessness on a Spanish warship.

And now suddenly the great batteries at the Hook begin to open. The smoke rolls. over Atlantis Highlands; the, piercing flashes of the guns are visible even in the broad, daylight and the thundering reverberations shake the city miles away. Fort Wadworth and Fort Hamilton are next ablaze.

But these things the Spaniards are prepared for. Their armored sides ate battered and smashed, but still their vitals are not touched and their great guns reply fiercely to the fire of the forts.

Three million people listen to the hellish uproar with hearts beating at their throats. All work is abandoned. Houses and offices are deserted; the thronging multitudes in the streets are crazed with excitement. Ticking telegraph instruments transmit every Instant the latest news of the fight and the men at the bulletin boards seem electrified, and write and rub out and write again amid the cheers and shouts of the, onlookers.

The Spanish ships are, still advancing," say the bulletins.

"The forts seem unable to sink them."

"They are nearing the Narrows."

"The, oscillators! What are the oscillators doing?" cried the maddened crowd. "Will they never sink them? Will they never blow them up?"

Already stray shots are coming across the sandhills and falling in the outskirts of Brooklyn. The confidence with which the assailed city had waited the attack in the morning, when the news of the approach of the enemy's fleet was heard, is rapidly turning to despair.

But the oscillators are all right. There has been a temporary disarrangement, but the trouble is rapidly remedied, and presently cut through the thickening battle smoke steal those. invisible undulations, thrilling through the air, touching the red and yellow emblems of Spain, Insolently flaunting from the mastheads of the ships, but not disturbing them. They have a deadller misslon. Through the hulls they penetrate, and once more little blue flames flicker, among the magazines. And now not but one, but half a dozen Spanish warships suddenly leap, as the Maine leaped, and, like her, go to the bottom. But they have gone down in a fair fight.

The battle is over,

The Spanish armada has been blown, Into space.

Such is the picture of what we should expect to behold provided the inventors who have this problem in hand are able to achieve all that they now confidently expect to do.


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