Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Articles

Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Tesla's Magnifying Transmitter - A Technical Discussion

July, 2005
Page number(s):
Marc J. Seifer - Internationally acclaimed speaker and author of WIZARD: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla.

Is Wireless Power Viable?

One of the most important questions concerning Tesla’s life, was the viability of his wireless power technology. Had Tesla been able to complete Wardenclyffe in 1903, would the transmitter have worked? ... and if so, to what extent?

To attack this question, one needs to define it, as the Wardenclyffe idea was not a simple plan. One could break down the problem as follows:

  1. Is the transmission of wireless information based upon Tesla’s patents?
  2. Was his overall conceptualization sound, i.e, can electricity be transmitted around the globe?
  3. Can electricity for lighting and industrial purposes be transmitted by wireless? To what range?
  4. Can the skies be illuminated by a magnifying transmitter?
  5. Can cloud formations be manipulated so as to create rain from an electric broadcasting station?
  6. Can impulses be transmitted from planet to planet?
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

Some of these questions are easy to answer, others are more ambiguous. After a quarter of a century of litigation, the Supreme Court ruled, in 1943, that the invention of the radio was based upon Tesla’s apparatus and patents, and that Marconi, utilized them to achieve his success in wireless.2 The etiology of this discovery has been reviewed herein, thus we can conclude that the answer to the first question (1) is yes.

One of the problems, however, even with the simple premise that Tesla is the “Father of Wireless,” is that the precise modus operandi of the equipment is still in dispute. For instance, what is the reason for the ground connection in radio transmissions? There appears to be differences of opinion. One clear explanation is offered by Michael Pupin:

Just about that time the newspapers reported that a young Italian student by the name of Marconi, while experimenting with Hertzian waves, had demonstrated that a Hertzian oscillator will send out electrical waves which will penetrate much longer distances when one of its sides is connected to the earth.

“Of course it will,” said I, “the grounded oscillator takes the earth into closer partnership.”

When as a herdsman’s assistant on the pasture lands of my native Idvor I stuck my knife into the ground and struck its wooden handle, I knew perfectly well that the ground was part of the vibrating system, and that the sound-producing stroke was taken up by the ground much better than when I struck the knife-handle without sticking the knife into the ground. But I also knew that unless the boy who was listening pressed his ear against the ground he would not hear very much.

It was, therefore, quite obvious to me that the best detector for a Hertzian oscillator which is grounded must be another Hertzian oscillator which is also connected to the ground. Grounding of the sending and of the receiving Hertzian oscillators was in fact the fundamental claim of the Marconi invention.3

Poulson Confident of Overseas Phone

Says That the Messages from Copenhagen to Berlin Were Perfectly Clear.

Heard Voices and Music

London, December 19, 1907. A special dispatch from Berlin confirms the success of Waldermar Poulson’s wireless radiotelephony with continuous waves [covering] a distance of 250 miles. The system differs from the spark telephone in that the transmitter produces the required wave by means of noiseless continuous direct current, replacing by its continuity the action of the dangerous high tension developed by the spark telephonic systems.

- Impossible, Says Pupin -

Declares Distances of Communication Will Always be Limited.

“The whole thing,” Prof. Pupin said, “savors of stock jobbing. Changes in atmospheric condition alone are an almost unconquerable obstacle. Prof. Poulson’s invention of the continuous oscillator makes wireless telephony possible, but [We] will never be able to telephone across the Atlantic or over any other area of the same size.”

- My Apparatus, Says Tesla -

I have looked up the description of the telegraphone Waldemar Poulson has employed, and find that it comprises:

(1) My grounded resonant transmitting circuit; (2) my inductive exciter; (3) the “Tesla transformer”; (4) my inductive coils for raising the tension on the condenser; (5) my entire apparatus for producing undamped or continuous oscillations; (6) my concatenated tuned transforming circuits; (7) my grounded resonant receiving circuit; (8) my secondary receiving transformer.

I note other improvements of mine, but those mentioned will be sufficient to show that Denmark is a land of easy invention.
- New York Times (12/20/1907)

Tesla’s laboratory and 187-foot tall transmission tower on Long Island, circa 1904.

In hindsight, many things become obvious. Why was it that when Pupin lectured on resonance in the early 1890’s, before Tesla’s 1893 discussion of the importance of the ground connection, and before Marconi’s experiments, he did not refer to this simple story, or the idea that intelligence could be communicated by means of wireless? One of the reasons, perhaps, was the counter-intuitive discovery, especially by Preece, that the earth was a conductor of electricity. Another reason was that the idea of sending electrical impulses that carried intelligent information by means of wireless, was too revolutionary a concept for Pupin to comprehend before Tesla’s 1893 speech.

Robert Golka discharging the capacitors of his Magnifying Transmitter in Leadville, CO. (1989)

This question about the necessity of the ground connection was posed by myself to Tesla expert Robert Golka, the only person to have duplicated the construction of a Tesla-like transmitting tower. Golka, who has erected two such behemoths, one in Utah, in 1976, and one in Leadville, Colorado in 1989, used the trampoline as an analog.

The ground, Golka said, “gives you something to push against,” whereas the slackness of the trampoline, corresponds to no ground connection. “In this second instance, you push into, instead of push against.” In other words, without the ground connection, there is no hard foundation to enable the impulses to rebound off of. However, with the ground connection, once the tower begins to transmit an impulse, a wave the length of the aerial is coupled with the ground, and this augments transmission.4

Modern Day Speculations

At the 1990 International Tesla Conference held in Colorado Springs, Dr. Alexander Marincic, curator of the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Robert Golka and myself were engaged in a conversation on the viability of Tesla’s plan. Both Marincic and Golka were in agreement that Tesla’s ultimate plan, that of sending energy around the earth for industrial purposes, was not viable.

Marincic noted that where Marconi was attempting to transmit “a tuned wave through the air,” Tesla was trying to pump it into the earth. Marconi’s system worked because of a coupling effect of the tall aerial of his sender and corresponding same size receiver. Golka supported this contention, but added that Marconi’s success was predicated upon the very sensitive receiver which he had built, “which consisted of a magnetic tape which went around and around and got erased after each pass. It was a great accomplishment,” Golka added.

“There is no proof that Tesla ever sent energy more than a mile or two,” Marincic said, “and no proof that he ever sent energy around the planet.” Coming from the editor of Colorado Springs Notes, this assertion carries great weight. “From studying the notes, there is no place where he announces that he sent energy around the earth.” Certainly, my analysis of the Colorado Springs Notes would concur.

I suggested that Tesla’s success was predicated upon his belief that since his receivers could detect thunderstorms 600 miles away, this was proof for him that impulses that he transmitted would also achieve this effect.

“Tesla’s failure,” Marincic said, “was in not obtaining radio patents in 1892-93, when he first demonstrated the effect. Why did he wait so long, to 1897?” he asked. “By this time the knowledge was out there.”

“If he had received the additional monies from Morgan,” I inquired, “would he have succeeded at Wardenclyffe?”

Both men felt that Tesla would not have succeeded. Golka said, “In tapping the earth frequency, his hammer [the tower] was much too small. He had done experiments at Wardenclyffe, and he knew that it would not work.”

“From my study of the Wardenclyffe notes,” Marincic said, “they show that he never really fired up the tower.” (Marincic, however, did not explain the occurrence of lights at the top of the tower during July of 1903.)

“Even if he had,” Golka replied, “the waves would have dampened out after 30 miles or so like a radio station disappears after a certain radius is reached.”

I inquired how they could explain an event that had occurred to me. A number of years back, while camping in Quebec, a well-known radio station from my Long Island home town, WABC, came in loud and clear. The station had covered a distance of 400 or 500 miles.

“It skipped [along the ionosphere],” Marincic said.

I suggested that Tesla had intercepted Marconi’s transmissions in 1899 and mistook them for extraterrestrials. In other words, Marconi, who was sending messages a few hundred miles, had actually transmitted (or “skipped”) them 5,000 or 6,000 miles. Marincic did not think this was likely, and suggested that Tesla may have picked up a quasar [pulsating star from the galaxy].

Golka, who had just spent the last three years constructing a magnifying transmitter just a few miles from where we were, with the hopes of duplicating Tesla’s alleged feat of sending impulses around the planet, said that his tower sent energy only to a distance of about 30 miles. His detector, however, was extremely primitive, and he had no mechanism for detecting standing waves at, say, 60 or 120 miles away. Golka measurements were based upon the use of his car radio to pick up the static interference.

Tesla is calmly reading his notes next to his 12-million volt magnifying transmitter located at his laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was in Colorado for about a year (1899-1900) and was able to study the effects altitude had on his experiments. It was this gargantuan device that enabled him to send electricity through the earth - without wires. This photo is actually a multiple exposure - a technique widely used by Tesla to get the dynamic photographs that he did.

 “Tesla’s problem,” Golka went on, “was in rectifying the current to the 8CPS of the earth. If it could be done and amplified each time, big effects could be achieved.”

Marincic discussed the possibility that the Tesla energies may have had effects different than normal electromagnetic ones, but Golka did not think so.5

This was all very enlightening, if not disheartening, as two of the world’s leading Tesla experts both concurred that Tesla’s plans at Wardenclyffe were folly. I decided to follow up my investigations, by asking other leaders in the field.

More Skeptical Viewpoints

William Terbo, Tesla’s nephew, who recently retired from RCA Global Communications, agreed with their assessment, i.e, the magnifying transmitter, in terms of its ultimate conceptualization, was not feasible.

Leland Anderson, a college educated electrical engineer and Tesla expert for nearly 40 years, was also of this opinion. Tesla’s experiments at Colorado Springs, according to Anderson, were probably a local effect caused by the fortuitous placement of his Colorado Springs tower next to the Pikes Peaks range along a great plain.

When Tesla detected lightning discharges and standing waves, he made the incorrect assumption that these waves would encircle the globe. In fact, Anderson wrote, the standing waves Tesla detected were probably “unrecognized reinforcement effects” rebounding off of Pike’s Peak, and his generated waves probably did the same thing.

Writing to the United States Department of Commerce, Boulder Colorado Laboratories in 1959, Anderson contacted electronic scientist J. Ralph Johler who also studied the Colorado assertion.

Having measured thunderstorms, himself, in the Colorado Springs area, Johler agreed with many of Tesla’s calculations. However, he disagreed with Tesla’s conclusions. What Tesla saw as the beat of a standing wave, Johler described as, more likely, the pulsed increases and decreases in electricity from the thunderstorm itself “charging” and “discharging.” “A true standing wave could be produced by an efficient re-radiator in the vicinity of the receiver.” Having calculated the size of the wavelength required to be 39,000 feet long, Johler suggests that Pike’s Peak, itself, might have been the source of the “re-radiator” of the thunderstorm-generated electrical wave. This was mistaken by Tesla to be a standing wave that was in the process of “girdling the globe.”

Having studied the problem in depth, Anderson agreed with Golka, that after 30 miles, or so, the effect would diminish drastically. Johler concludes:

I note that waves propagated around the earth at these frequencies have been observed and recorded but are subject to both ionosphere and ground reflection processes and furthermore tend to take on a “wave guide” type of propagation mode between the earth and the ionosphere at great distances. Also, the attenuation is usually quite high relative to the primary wave such that the possibility of a standing wave around the earth seems rather remote. The attenuation of the ground wave at great distances inside the earth and along the surface of the earth is very great (exponential with respect to distance) as a result of finite conductivity and diffraction.6

Dollard Explains the Tesla System

Two experts who have come to the conclusion that the Tesla apparatus was viable are Professor James Corum and also Eric Dollard, both electrical engineers and Tesla experts, and both designers of transmitting equipment based upon Tesla’s findings.

Dollard writes that the invention of the “multiple loaded flat top antenna” by “Steinmetz’s protege, Ernst F.W. Alexanderson” at about the year 1920, was really “fashioned after those developed by Tesla.” One such plant, located at Bolinas, California, sets up a resonant transformer between two separate “earth plates” and an “elevated plate.” This arrangement, whose schematics can be found in Dollard’s article, produces three separate types of wireless frequencies: “atmospheric induction, antenna transmission and earth induction.”

Conventional Wireless System as compared to the Tesla Wireless System!

According to Dollard, the essential difference between Tesla’s plan and that of conventional wireless transmission, is that in the latter case, electrical energy is set up to be broadcast from an antenna through the air, but in the Tesla design, the aerial acts as a “virtual ground” so that energy is transmitted down into the earth instead.

“In this arrangement, energy is continuously bounced back and forth between the earth and the reflecting capacitance at a rate tuned to a natural rate of the earth.” This arrangement produces a “standing wave of energy pulsation” which is “refracted through the earth-transformer,” and this produces “another standing wave in the earth.... Hence, a pair of standing waves are produced which communicate energy through the refraction.”

Dollard suggests that one of these standing waves is more electrical in nature, and the other, more ‘magnetic. The interaction of these two waves, which are basically travelling in tandem, like two intertwining arms of a spiral of DNA, produce a third pulsation at right angles to them.

The first oscillation occurs in the earth, the second in the transformer, and the third is produced in a coupling transformer. The first corresponds to the EARTH WAVE, the second to a TIME WAVE, and the third to a RESONANCE WAVE. In acoustical sense, these three waves correspond respectively to HARMONY, RHYTHM and MELODY. Dollard concludes that “the electric conditions surrounding the [Tesla magnifying transmitter] no longer can be represented by conventional, or electromagnetic, concepts because the system has converted the electromagnetic energy... [into a] mass-free energy.” As photons and neutrinos are also mass-free energies, Dollard’s speculations, although ending up on a mystical bent, might lie within the framework of conventional theories.7

A Word from Academia

Dr. James Corum, who holds a doctorate in physics and is a professor of electrical engineering at West Virginia University writes, “It has been common in the past to discard Tesla’s far-sighted vision as baseless. We [Corum and co-writer, A. Adinejad, also a Ph.D. from WVU], believe that such depreciation has stemmed from critics that were uninformed as to Tesla’s actual technical measurements, and physical observation.”

Having performed various calculations themselves, these two college professors surmise that Tesla’s mathematical results written in his May 16, 1900 patent application, “could have only been obtained as a result of authentic terrestrial resonance measurements.” In other words, they conclude that Tesla’s claims that he (a) measured a terrestrial pulse that rebounded off of the antipode of the earth, and (b) calculated the resonant frequency of the earth, are essentially correct.

Concerning the importance of the ground connection, Tesla himself told his patent attorneys in 1916 that in a wireless system, most of the energy radiating from the antenna is “absolutely wasted” for essentially two reasons: (1) this antenna has a large capacity and small self-inductance, whereas his ground connection has the opposite arrangement of a comparatively small capacity and large self-inductance; and (2) “because electromagnetic wave energy [in the air] is not recoverable [in any appreciable quantities], while [the earth] current is entirely recoverable.... [For successful transmission, I] suppress [the electromagnetic waves] as much as possible, and intensify the [earth] current to perform any work at any point of the globe.” By “maintaining the earth in electrical vibration,” energy could therefore be obtained at any point around the globe.8

In this treatise, Tesla also pointed out that because signals are amplified at the receiving end, electrical engineers have mistakenly presumed that their present transmission system was the most practicable.

However, by suppressing the electromagnetic radiations, and boosting the ground connection according to his specifications, energy could be transmitted with almost no loss, and thus amplification of the signal would become unnecessary.

The Ionosphere Conduit

Looking at the Colorado project from the technical point of view, and with the premise that Tesla’s plan was viable, it should be kept in mind that the inventor was in a virgin field. He, therefore needed to experiment and complete Wardenclyffe, in order to determine a modified plan for distributing light, information and power. Most likely, Wardenclyffe was to be set up mainly for the purpose of distributing information and meager amounts of electrical power, just enough to run clocks and stock tickers, but not enough to charge factories.

As stated earlier, Tesla had experimented with Heinrich Hertz’ equipment, and realized, for a variety of reasons, that the type of pulsed frequencies Hertz and Marconi were generating, would not succeed over any length of distance. The continuous frequencies he was using, and his oscillators were vastly superior, e.g., they were less susceptible to static interference, they were necessary for the transmission of sound or pictures and they allowed for separate channels. In fact, they would be fundamental to any long-range wireless set up.

At this time, theoreticians thought that radio waves would not follow the curvature of the earth; however, Tesla was well aware of the possibility that the upper strata of the atmosphere (now called the Heaviside layer of the ionosphere) would probably be an excellent medium for transmitting impulses. Just as electricity travelled through his vacuum tubes to ignite them, so too would electricity travel through the rarified upper atmosphere of the earth.

This mechanism is different than the concept accepted by many present-day engineers who state that the transmitted electrical impulse would “bounce back and forth rapidly” between the ionosphere and the earth for long distance transmission.9

Tesla, however, was not unaware of this alternative possibility, and in fact, had stated outright that Wardenclyffe would be able to transmit electricity in a variety of ways. He could send electrical energy via the electromagnetic grid of the earth itself, bounce it off of the ionosphere, or send it through the upper atmosphere. In order to do this, he planned not only to disturb the carrier waves travelling within the earth, (e.g., its geomagnetic pulse), but also launch a series of highly expensive balloons which would keep aloft great transmission disks at heights of 5,000 feet.10 A third way to transmit electricity involved the creation of a beam of energy up to the ionosphere, which would then be used for its transport:

I will confess that I was disappointed when I first made tests along this line on a large scale. They did not yield practical results. At the time, I used about 8,000,000 to 12,000,000 volts of electricity. As a source of ionizing rays, I employed a powerful arc reflected up into the sky. At the time, I was trying only to connect a high tension current and the upper strata of the air, because my pet scheme for years ha[d] been to light the ocean at night.11

Teslarian Robert McCabe suggests that this experiment may have occurred at Wardenclyffe during the summer of 1903, although Tesla, writing 30 years after the event, dates the experiment to before 1902, thereby suggesting that it was done at Colorado Springs.12

The Colorado Springs Experiments

In 1904, Tesla wrote that he went to Colorado for three basic reasons:

to develop a transmitter of great power.

to perfect a means for individualizing and isolating the energy transmitted.

to ascertain the laws of propagation of currents through the earth and atmosphere.13

Tesla’s plan was actually quite simple; he assumed that the earth had a resonant frequency, and therefore could be measured and utilized as a gigantic carrier wave to distribute electrical power:

[My magnifying transmitter] is a resonant transformer which... is accurately proportioned to fit the globe and its electrical constants and properties, by virtue of which design it becomes highly efficient in the wireless transmission of energy. Distance is then absolutely eliminated, there being no diminution in intensity of the transmitted impulses. It is even possible to make the actions increase with distance from the plant according to an exact mathematical law.14

Note that this statement is in exact contradiction to the conclusions drawn by the various Tesla experts listed above. The statement is based upon:

  1. the measuring of standing waves of the electrical storms he encountered in Colorado Springs;
  2. the measuring of the geomagnetic pulse (known today as the Schumann cavity resonance);
  3. his 1893 experiments with his oscillators creating standing waves along metal beams;15
  4. the construction of a metal sphere as a prototype globe for measuring transmission signals; and
  5. his ability to generate tremendously high frequencies and lightning discharges in excess of 100 feet.

Shortly after Tesla’s return from Colorado Springs, he wrote to Morgan that he had sent electrical impulses to the antipode of the earth, and measured the amount of time it took for the impulse to rebound back to his experimental station.16

At this point, a conceptual leap was made by Tesla, for he conceived of lightning as being intimately involved with the dynamic electrical structure of the terrestrial planet (not as friction between clouds). As a distinctly different conceptualization, but intimately connected, Tesla planned to siphon electrical energy from the earth in a way somewhat analogous to how a water-pump works. Enormous quantities of electrical energy, however, would first have to be “pumped in.” This energy could then be retrieved at different locations around the globe.

Tesla writes in his 1900 opus “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy”:

It is well known... that electric currents circulate constantly through the earth, and that there exists between the earth and the air stratum a difference of electrical pressure which varies in proportion to height.

Based upon his experiments in Colorado with his 200-foot high aerial and high altitude balloons, Tesla surmised that:

1. An electrical current is generated in a wire extending from the ground to a great height probably for two reasons:

   a. The difference in potential between the earth and air.

   b. The translatory movement (rotation) of the earth.

2. Current will continuously leak into the air if a wire is supported at a great height.

   a. A continuous supply of electrical energy is thus achieved in this simple way.

   b. Facilitation of this effect is produced when the terminal point (top of the aerial/tower) has a great surface with many sharp edges or points.

3. The upper air strata are permanently charged with electricity opposite to that of the earth.

4. The outer envelope of the earth, including the ground, lower atmosphere and upper strata, constitutes a highly charged electrical condenser.

5. By extending a wire to great heights, an inexhaustible supply of electrical energy could be produced which might be turned to the uses of humanity.17

This discussion was often misconstrued to imply that electrical energy from the earth, in and of itself, could be utilized for industrial purposes. When Lewis Nixon, a well-known ship designer, suggested as much, Tesla wrote explicitly to deny this implication. “Surely [Mr. Nixon] knows that water does not flow uphill. It is absurd of him to compare the inexhaustible dynamic energy of the earth which is minute in amount and in a static condition.”18

Tesla’s Magnifying Transmitter

A “self-acting” machine has been conceptualized here, as nothing needs to be done to obtain an inexhaustible supply of electrical energy once such an aerial/tower is constructed. The problem, of course, is that the amount of electrical energy gained this way is negligible.

Inside Tesla’s Colorado Springs Lab! Prior to unveiling his wireless system, Tesla performed numerous experiments at Colorado Springs, Colorado. Immediately upon his return to New York, many of his experiments were described in his article, The Problem of Increasing Human Energy. This experiment mentioned in the “Problem...” was to observe the effects of various tuned coils.

The next step, therefore would be the generation (creation) and distribution of large amounts of electrical power.

Tesla proposes the analog of a “sink hole” in the atmosphere as a model analogous to how his magnifying transmitter would work. What would happen in this instance? Air would continually flow into it until it was filled, and power could be harnessed in a way comparable to how a windmill is utilized. Tesla theorized, however, that if the energy could be transformed into something else on the downflow, the sink hole could never be filled. The completion of his description is as follows:

Suppose one had an empty tank placed in the middle of a lake and as the water poured in, the fluid was separated [by electrolysis] into hydrogen and oxygen. How long would it take for the tank to be filled?

In theory, it would never be filled; however, in practice, the process would not be totally efficient and eventually the few drips that passed by would fill up the tank; but evidently, there will be less to pump out than flows in, or, in other words, less energy will be needed to maintain the initial condition.... The tank would remain [virtually] empty,... yet... water would continually flow in.... Thus, the virtue of the principle I have discovered resides wholly in the conversion of energy on the downward flow.19

The “sink hole” he refers to would correspond to the top of the receiving tower, its crest storing or converting the energy to higher frequencies for long distance or local wireless transportation.

The transmitter was based upon his invention of the mechanical oscillator which was first conceived in 1883, but which was perfected and patented in 1893; “but the original purpose of the machine is explained here for the first time.”20

Tesla said that this invention comprised seven novel elements:

  1. The mechanical oscillator.
  2. An air compressor (similar in construction to the oscillator).
  3. A refrigeration device which would cool the air until it was liquefied.
  4. The production of very rapid oscillations by means of a special transformer or induction coil using the earth as a conductor so as to do away with the necessity of transmission wires.
  5. A condenser to magnify effects.
  6. A process for simultaneously individualizing the transmission of thousands of messages.
  7. A highly sensitive receiving apparatus.21

Tesla’s World-Wide Wireless Transmission of Electrical Signals, as well as light and power, is here illustrated in Theory, Analogy and Realization. Tesla’s experiments with 100 foot discharges at potentials of millions of volts have demonstrated that the Hertz waves are infinitesimal in effect and unrecoverable; the recoverable ground waves of Tesla fly “thru the Earth”. Radio engineers are gradually beginning to see the light and that the laws of propagation as laid out by Tesla over a quarter of a Century ago form the real and true basis of all wireless transmission today.

- Nikola Tesla; Famous Scientific Illusions, Electrical Experimenter, February 1919

On many occasions, Tesla likened the plan to a model based upon a globe filled with hydraulic fluid, and a series of pumps. Just as one pump could push water into another pump at the other side of the globe, so could one magnifying transmitter pump electrical energy into another receiving tower situated on the other side of the planet. The action of fluid under pressure, and electricity in a reservoir, were, for the inventor, quite similar.

Tuned Circuits

The 1900 article described the use of tuned circuits for transmitting and receiving electrical energy, and also a complete explanation of how harmonics operated in transmitting wireless messages:

In order to attain the best results it is essential that the length of each wire or circuit, from the ground connection to the top, should be equal to one quarter of the wave-length of the electrical vibration in the wire, or else equal to that of the length multiplied by an odd number. Without this rule it is virtually impossible to prevent the interference and ensures the privacy of messages. Therein lies the secret of tuning.22

This was new information, obvious now to electrical engineers, but not known by Marconi and other competitors at the time. Concerning the problem of individualizing thousands of wireless messages, Tesla wrote:

The exclusiveness and non-interferability of impulses transmitted through a common channel result from cooperative association of a number of distinct elements.... In actual practice, it is found that combining two vibrations or tones, a degree of privacy sufficient for most purposes is attained.23

In actuality, Tesla had the technical capability to create individual (ie., single) channels with three or more separate frequencies. The underlying principle is to “combine a number of vibrations, preferably slightly displaced, to reduce-further the danger of interference... and to make the operation of the receiver dependent on the co-operative effect of a number of attuned elements.”24 The article goes on to criticize Marconi’s work and explain why the Tesla system would eventually prevail:

To obtain the most satisfactory results it is, however, necessary to resort to electrical vibrations of a low pitch. The Hertzian spark apparatus, used generally by experimenters, which produces oscillations of a very high rate, permits no effective tuning, and slight disturbances are sufficient to render an exchange of messages impracticable. But scientifically designed, efficient appliances allow nearly perfect adjustment.25

The Tesla currents utilized extremely long frequencies (ELF), whereas Marconi’s Hertzian waves were very short. Tesla stated in 1912, that long distance transmissions utilize the earth as a conductor, and not just the air, as the Hertzian people generally assumed.26

His receiving apparatus, besides the coherer, also utilized a vacuum bulb containing a bundle of light highly sensitive to the earth’s magnetism and subtle disturbances thereof. Photographs taken at Wardenclyffe, circa 1902, reveal a room full of scores of different types of radio tubes.27 Tesla describes the blueprint of his first such bulbs which he displayed in 1892 before the Royal Society in London in The Century article:

This light bundle [or brush of sparks] is rapidly rotated by the earth’s magnetism as many as 20,000 per second, the rotation in these parts being opposite to what it would be in the southern hemisphere.28

The key: an efficient apparatus for producing powerful electrical oscillations.

Power and Resonance... At a Distance!

Tesla stated that stored energy could be “exploded” in a very short span of time at a rate of many millions per second. With such an apparatus (i.e., an electrical oscillator) discharging the current in the primary of the transformer or induction coil, and inducing corresponding oscillations in the secondary, electrical discharges 100 feet in length were produced at Colorado Springs; “but it would not be difficult to reach lengths one hundred times as great.” Tesla stated that he produced 100,000 horsepower and could have produced ten million horsepower with such a device. “These results are but an embryo of what is to be.”29

[My magnifying transmitter] is essentially a freely vibrating secondary circuit of definite length, very high self inductance and small resistance, which has one of its terminals in intimate direct or indirect connection with the ground and the other with an elevated conductor, and upon which the electrical oscillations of a primary or exciting circuit are impressed under conditions of resonance.30

Based upon numerous letters to Morgan and Tesla’s somewhat obscure nature, he intimated that from one tower (Wardenclylfe), the world could be run through electrical power. In fact, Tesla’s plan involved many magnifying transmitters interlinked by resonance and also able to obtain energy by being situated near waterfalls. Each tower could act as a sender or a receiver. In a letter to Katherine Johnson, Tesla explains the need for well over 30 such towers:

Of course the power of Niagara would be inadequate to supply the whole world.... At least 300 million horsepower [would be required]. Niagara could furnish scarcely more than ten.31

While at Colorado Springs, during an incredible thunderstorm, on July 3rd, 1899, Tesla measured the impulses of the lightning and announced that he had discovered standing electrical waveforms that were encircling the globe. “Stationary waves in the earth,” Tesla continued in The Century article, “mean something more than mere telegraphy without wires to any distance.... An electrical effect [can be produced] in any particular region of the globe. We may determine the relative position or course of a moving object, such as a vessel at sea.”32

In other words, Tesla had conceived of a system of radar, if his calculation is accurate which would make today’s system appear obsolete as our present radar scopes can only track vessels at distances of 400 or 500 miles. The downing of a Korean jet liner by Soviet missiles over northeastern Siberia in September 1983, is evidence in support of this statement, as U.S. radar stations on the outskirts of Alaska were unable to monitor the plane beyond this distance. Tesla “observed... effects so far only up to a limited distance of 600 miles.”33

He ended the article by writing that it was “practicable” to create effects “perceptible on some of our nearer planets as Venus or Mars.” And then in a concluding paragraph, he strained the reader’s credibility to the maximum, his statements earning him the distinction in many corners that, he was “somewhat mad.”34

Its practical consummation would mean that energy would be available for the use of man at any point of the globe, not in small amounts such as might be derived from the ambient medium by suitable machinery, but in quantities virtually unlimited, from waterfalls. Export of power would then become the chief source of income for many happily situated countries as the United States, Canada, [etc.],...

Men could settle anywhere, fertilize and irrigate the soil with little effort, and convert barren deserts into gardens and thus the entire globe could be transformed and made a fitter abode for mankind. It is highly probable that if there are intelligent beings on Mars they have long ago realized this very idea, which would explain the changes on its surface as noted by astronomers.35

Geophysical Aspects

In 1931, Tesla stated that rain was caused by lightning and further, that his magnifying transmitter was tuned to harmonic earth frequencies resonant (synchronized) to those that produce lightning. Needless to say, numerous rainstorms occur without lightning; thus, his hypothesis is at least partially wrong. A few questions remain, however. First, does lightning trigger the fall of rain? If so, is it possible that some form of terrestrial electrical phenomenon, which in an extreme form is called lightning, is responsible for rain production? And thirdly, what exactly is lightning?

The earth seethes with a variety of earth currents, some deriving from its magnetic structure, and others stemming from its relationship with the sun and other planetary bodies. The earth can be thought of as a gigantic permanent magnet with typical electromagnetic lines of force extending from its north to south pole.

Modern science has confirmed the existence of the earth’s magnetosphere with electromagnetic lines of force extending from its north to south pole.

Carrigan and Gubbins suggest that the self-sustaining attributes of the permanent magnetic state of the earth are due to a variety of factors such as its magnetic core and its spin. Just as the Earth reverses its poles, approximately every 500,000-700,000 years, as geological evidence suggests, disk dynamos also occasionally reverse poles because of a coupling among various parts in the circuit. Evidence suggests that the combination of the inner metallic core, the initial rotational property of the earth inducing an electromagnetic current, and its continual spin account for the creation and maintenance of the permanent magnetic state of the earth.

Gravitational forces seem to be involved in maintaining the spin, which is quite regular, i.e., the 24 hour day/night cycle; however, the location of magnetic north and south can shift as much as 8 degrees in a 50 year period.36

The Coriolis force, responsible for such phenomena as weather patterns, associated with centrifugal properties involved with the spin of the earth acts on any mass (such as the oceans and atmosphere) “in direction perpendicular to its motion.... [This accounts] for large scale cyclonic motions of air and sea currents” note Carrigan and Gubbins. Many cloud formations are also known to be caused by various electrical characteristics of the earth. Tornadoes and more precisely, hurricanes also follow paths correlating to these terrestrial forces.

Since the earth can be perceived as one gigantic electromagnet, in some sense, it is completely interconnected. Light travels at about 186,000/second. The distance from pole to pole, is approximately 12,500 miles, so that it would take energy from the north pole, about 1/16th of a second to travel to the south pole. However, when perceived as a gestalt, it would appear to me that the entire electromagnetic field of the earth exists in a coherent form which in some sense is not limited by the speed of light.

However, there also appears to be a variety of other earth frequencies which continually circulate within the atmosphere as well as within the ground. Vibrations could occur in two different ways, either (1) as transverse waves at right angles to the direction of wave velocity (e.g., light and electromagnetic impulses), and (2) as longitudinal waves (e.g., sound and earthquake impulses) that cause particles in a medium to move back and forth along the same direction the wave travels.

Electrical phenomena appear to combine the use of transverse and longitudinal waves,37 but the prevailing broadcasting system makes more use of the former, whereas the Tesla system predominated in use of the latter. The geomagnetic field creates lines of force within and surrounding the earth and these in turn are linked to other pulsations.

Earth Currents

In 1847, Barlow discovered low-frequency magnetic fields in the earth while working for the British Service.38 These, he called telluric currents which are distinct from terrestrial gravitational and magnetic fields.

The source of these currents has been fairly definitely located outside the earth [e.g., the sun and moon]. Periodic and transient fluctuations can be correlated with diurnal variations in the earth’s magnetic field, caused by solar, emissions, aurora, etc. These currents have a direct influence on currents in the ionosphere; it is thought that the telluric currents are induced in the earth by ionospheric currents.

The inductive mechanism in an EM [electromagnetic] field [is] propagated... over large distances in the space between the ionosphere and the earth surface, somewhat in the manner of a guided wave between parallel conducting plates. This is to say, it proceeds by bounding back and forth between these boundaries.... Obviously, these magnetotelluric fields can penetrate the earth’s surface to produce the telluric currents.... These have amplitude peaks at several distinct frequencies: 8, 14 and 760 Hz, etc.39

These currents correspond to the Schumann cavity resonances occurring between the earth and ionosphere creating standing waves at 8, 14, and 20 Hz.40 These seem to correspond to the stationary waves suggested by Tesla in 1899, although at that time it appears that he calculated them at 6, 18 and 30 cps.41 (The term Hz, standing for Hertz, is equivalent to cps standing for cycles per second; either is correct.) However, a few years later, Tesla suggested 12 cps as the resonant frequency.42

The discrepancy could be due to a variety of factors including either the possibility that he was measuring a different pulse than the telluric currents or human error. Experimentalist C. Yost wrote that where “Schumann described resonance as it would exist in a spherical cavity configuration like that formed between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere,” Tesla was measuring resonances within the earth itself.43 Thus the two findings were linked, but represent two different measurements.

In 1916, Tesla edited an article written by another author for Electrical Experimenter on his Wardenclyffe tower where it is explained that the transmission of energy “through the earth” was not meant to mean through the actual center of the planet. “Promulgat[ing] his basic theory of earth current transmission... the electric wave is... supposed to travel through the earth along its surface shell, and in turn... manifest its presence at any point where there might be erected a similar high capacity tower to that above described.”44

The magnetic fields of the earth have long-term eddies (circular lines of force intertwining above the continents and seas) that change rather dramatically about every decade. They are an entirely separate kind of earth current than the telluric ones which oscillate at different frequencies.

In other words, there are earth ‘currents caused by the magnetic fields of the earth and telluric currents caused by other geomagnetic forces and interactions with the sun, moon, planets and ionosphere. Some surround the earth; others permeate its inner structure.

Ionospheric Currents

Lord Kelvin, in 1860, was the first person to suggest that the upper layers of the atmosphere (the ionosphere) could conduct electricity. Tesla sought to use these upper layers to transmit electrical impulses. ELF (extremely low frequency) and VLF (very low frequency) waves in the ionosphere can be caused by lightning, and these, in turn, can create their own standing waves. Toomey, writing in “Location of Sources of ELF Noises,” asks the question of the relationship of the terrestrial static magnetic field to ELF waves. He is also therefore suggesting by his question, that lightning discharges are somehow related to the permanent electromagnetic state of the earth.

Tesla spent a large percentage of his time in Colorado Springs measuring currents in the Earth and how they varied. He also spent much time measuring how the capacitance of his antenna varied and on methods for signal detection. He said very little more about Earth resonance beyond that stated in his Patent #787,412. The scientific literature is equally sparse on the subject; and, it was not until the early 1950s that Schumann published a major or work pertaining to Earth resonance.

Schumann describes resonance as it would exist in a spherical cavity configuration like that formed between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere. Thus, it is defined differently from the resonance expressed by Tesla; although, there are some similar resonant frequency values.

There has been some suggestion that the lightning resonance period data of “The Tesla Experiment” represents Schumann resonances. However, the periods measured in that research coincide over a broad range with the periods as defined by Tesla. The signal magnitudes also appear to be much stronger than those expected from Schumann’s theory. This figure illustrates the basic difference between the Tesla and Schumann concepts. The Tesla concept propagates waves through the Earth and the Schumann concept propagates waves in a cavity resonator around the Earth. In fact, both situations can operate simultaneously!
Charles Yost in the Proceedings of the Tesla Centennial Symposium (1984)

Jorgensen measured a 2kHz pulse in the ionosphere on the day side of the earth and a 1 kHz pulse on the night side. (Tesla had also noted differences between day and night figures.) Magnetic storms caused by the lunar cycle also cause a 27 day pulse; sunspots, the rotation of the sun and its shift of the poles superimpose other frequencies onto the ionosphere as well. These, in turn, it appears, permeate the earth and help modulate telluric currents which, by no means, are precise clockwork frequencies. Numerous local magnetic anomalies influence the currents.

Jorgensen also discusses auroral pulsations measured at 0.01 to 1 Hz occurring exclusively after the magnetic midnight, and these are also related to the telluric currents.45

The Structure & Function of Lightning

Between the earth, which is negatively charged, and the ionosphere, which is positively charged, there is a potential of about 300,000 volts. According to Uman, if the earth were not continually resupplied with negative ions, “the charge of the earth would disappear in less than an hour”!46 It appears that one of the main functions of lightning therefore is to resupply the earth with the negative charge that it is releasing into the atmosphere.

The lighting flash is a very complex mechanism.... In a mature thunderstorm cell... a strong updraft is present... which carries positive charges to the top of the cloud.... The negative [heavier] charges in the bottom of the thundercloud induce a positive surface charge on the conducting earth below.... When the breakdown potential is reached, the air below the cloud becomes ionized....

The free electrons in the ionized air are then accelerated towards the earth by the repulsive force of the large accumulation of negative charge in the lower portions of the cloud.... The movement of the electrons takes place in a series of steps of about 50 meters in length.... When th[is] stepped leader reaches the earth, a conducting path exists between the large accumulations of charge in the cloud and the earth.

The electrons in the lower part of the leader flow into the ground first, then the electrons behind them so the process appears to move upwards to the cloud. The return stroke is actually an upward moving increasing in the downward velocity of electrons. It is this return stroke that produces the intense light, heat and acoustical energy of the typical lightning discharge.47

Yost, who has attempted to replicate some of Tesla’s work in measuring standing waves caused by lightning, writes that the influences of electrical forces “has largely been ignored as an important weather factor.” Rather, emphasis has been on studying barometer pressure, temperatures and mass air movements.48

Concerning Tesla’s contention that lightning is involved with the process of rain, Chalmers reiterates the common observation that after a flash of lightning, a heavy gush of rain ensues. Precipitation, he suggests, is held in the atmosphere by electric fields. The lightning flash triggers the disruption of the field and the rain falls.49

“Electricity in a cloud is formed by drops of water that are blown up into air by warm currents. The warm air gives these drops of water a small charge of electricity.... [They] form clouds.”50

From data obtained in a large number of observations of the maxima and minima of [lightning discharge]... waves, I found their length to vary approximately from twenty-five to seventy kilometers.... I [Tesla] conceived the idea of producing such waves in the earth by artificial means, with the object of using them for many purposes.51

In reviewing this section, it appears that Tesla’s insights and findings concerning earth currents, standing waves and the important role of lightning in maintaining an atmospheric balance and ionic charge of the earth are fundamentally correct. Lightning is not simply a local effect occurring during special rainstorms. It is a constant ongoing process characteristic to the intrinsic electronic state of the entire globe.

Tesla’s electrical discharges were tied to the very fabric of vital transverse and longitudinal vibrations indigenous to the planet. Perceiving the earth as one electromagnetic Gestalt, with resonant properties, the inventor planned to utilize the earth’s own carrier waves to deliver his wireless electrical power.

World Broadcasting System

From what I can ascertain, I believe that Tesla’s global system would have operated in a fairly straightforward manner. A transmission tower would have been constructed so that its height and ability to radiate electrical oscillations was in a resonant relationship to the size, electronic and geophysical properties of the earth. Possibly, the tower would emit electrical vibrations in a harmonic relationship to telluric frequencies or some other known or unknown resonant earth frequency. The tower might also have been so constructed as to resonate the aquifer (which is quite extensive on Long Island, and which begins about 10 feet below the 120 foot well of the tower).

It seems that rather than utilize transverse electromagnetic waves exclusively, Tesla would be utilizing longitudinal waves (such as those found in the impulses transmitted by earthquakes and by sound). Transverse waves, for Tesla, such as Hertz waves, are “nothing but effects of longitudinal waves in a gaseous medium, that is to say, waves propagated by alternating compression and expansion [of the medium].52

The gigantic Tesla coil was also calculated to take into account the wavelength of light. In other words, the length of the wires wound in the transformer were in a harmonic relationship to the distance light would travel in a given time. With the production of standing waves resonant with the planet, “nodal points” on the earth’s surface were also plotted out.53

A tremendous charge, in excess of 30 million volts, and in a harmonic frequency to the electrical and/or geophysical state of the earth, would be driven down the tower, into the ground and out to sixteen 300 foot long iron spokes positioned in a spiral down the entire length of the 120 foot well. Thereby gripping the earth, this pulse would generate an electrical disturbance in harmony with the naturally occurring geomagnetic pulse that would reach the other side of the globe, and in turn, bounce back up the tower.

By controlling the period of frequency, this pulse could be modulated and actually increased in intensity in the same way one can make a well made bell resound in increasing loudness by tapping it at precisely timed faster and faster rates. Also, the energy would be stored at the top of the tower and in specially built condensers by the laboratory. Stationary waves in resonance with known earth currents would thereby be established.54

Like a vibrating spring with a weight on it, with this device, Tesla was able to determine and manipulate the electrostatic capacity (in analogy, like the pliability of the spring) and the inductance (analogous to the weight on the spring) of the carrier vibrations.55

In an extensive letter sent to me from the United States Research and Development Administration, Mr. Parry, the director, criticized Tesla’s plans for a variety of reasons. For instance, “non-directed energy” would be lost and/or absorbed by entering “trees, earth, sky, buildings, etc.”56 Tesla addressed this very criticism in an article in the New York Sun in 1905: 

A popular error, which I have often opportunity to correct, is to believe that the energy of such a plant would dissipate itself in all directions. This is not so, as I have pointed out in technical publications.

My experiments have shown that the entire electrical movements which keep the whole globe atremble can be maintained with but a few horsepower. The transmitter will generate vibrations in synchronism with the period of vibrations of the earth; but the earth is still comparatively undisturbed, and no power is yet transmitted. All this colossal movement requires little energy to maintain. It is like an engine running without a load.57

Just as electricity is available throughout the electrical circuits that run through the transmission lines that circumscribe our planet, electricity would also be available throughout the entire electromagnetic grid of the earth itself. In the same way electricity is not utilized by conventional means until a plug is placed in a socket and a switch turned on, electricity would also not be utilized in the Tesla system until it too was connected up to a wireless instrument, and that instrument was turned on. Electricity by the Tesla system, would not be wasted by being diffused, no more so than electricity is wasted by present means, such as with wireless car telephones, or by being made available through transformers and high tension wires that run from transmission pole to transmission pole.58

It appears that the tower could at this point serve in a variety of ways. For instance, intelligible signals could be transmitted to any region of the globe. Power also could be provided by the same mechanism to thousands of specific machines after they sent a coded request impulse or simply to another tower not situated by a power source. And this second tower, situated in a remote area, could be connected to home appliances and telephones by way of conventional wires.

If two transmitters were utilized and separated by many miles, vector waves could more easily place impulses in desired locations.59 These vibrations appear not to be transverse, but rather, longitudinal; thus, the importance of the ground connection. “The receiver is operated simply by currents conducted along the earth as through a wire, energy radiated playing no part.”60 Having invented a lamp in 1890 that could be illuminated with only a single wire (and no return to the power source), Tesla simply replaced the wire with the earth itself.

The Importance of Grounding

The ground connection served a twofold purpose: (1) reducing the intensity of the radiation (i.e., significantly eliminating the wasted dispersion of energy), and (2) increasing the length of the waves.61 A simple tuning fork experiment can be used to explain the importance of the ground connection (see Pupin above). Due to the conductive property of the earth, individualization of impulse transmission is also facilitated. The electrical energy “does not pass through the earth in the ordinary acceptance of the term,” Tesla explained in 1916 to his patent attorney. “It only penetrates to a certain depth according to the frequency.”62

Just to illustrate what can be done, suppose that only four vibrations were isolated on each transmitter. Let those on one side be respectively A, B, C, and D. Then the following individualized lines would be AB, AC, AD, BC, BD, CD, ABC, ABD, ACD, BCD and ABCD. The same article on the other side will give similar combinations, and both together twenty-two lines which can be simultaneously operated.63

The receiver is itself a device of elementary simplicity partaking of the characteristics of the ear, except that it is immensely more sensitive. In such a system, resonant amplification is the only one necessary and the selectivity is so great that any desired number of separate channels can be provided without going to waves shorter than a few meters.64 Tesla also maintained that the use of liquiefied air (-197oF) would greatly augment the production and/or reception of very high frequencies while also reducing impedance caused by friction or heat.65

By transforming energy to higher frequencies on the rebound flow, Tesla increased the efficiency of his towers. Each could act as both a sender and receiver. One tower situated near a waterfall could “jump” energy to another tower situated at another point on the globe.

Magnifying Transmitter Operation

The Magnifying Transmitter operation is straightforward. A power source (such as coal or water power) would generate energy into a transformer comprising both a secondary (tuned to the wavelength of light) and primary coil. The secondary in the transmitting tower would be the inside thinner coil which is longer in length and has more turns. The generated frequency would be lowered when induced into the thicker primary which has fewer turns and is of shorter length.

The transmitter would then pump the energy into the natural medium, broadcasting it via earth or air (i.e., two different ways). “At the receiving station, a transformer of similar construction is employed; but in this case, the longer coil [of many turns]... constitutes the primary, and the shorter coil [of fewer turns]... the secondary.... It is to be noted that the phenomenon here involved in the transmission of electrical energy is one of true conduction and not to be confounded with the phenomena of electrical radiation.”66

Power would not be freely available everywhere, as is commonly believed about the Tesla system, unless one had a receiving device comparable to the structure of the magnifying transmitter/receiver. However, information, and small amounts of power, probably would be available freely in much the same way a car radio picks up the local stations. Once energy was “jumped” to a tower situated by a suburban center, it could be stored in the bulbous crest of the tower or transmitted to mechanical devices in a variety of ways including the propagation of energy in straight lines through space, by means of wires, by setting up alternations between the ground and the elevated terminal or by transforming the energies to higher frequencies and distributing them through the natural medium.69

The fundamental difference between the broadcasting system as now practiced and the one I expect to inaugurate is that at present the transmitter emits energy in all directions, while in the system I have devised only force is converted to all points of the earth, the energy traveling in definite paths determined beforehand [emphasis added].

Perhaps the most wonderful feature is that the energy travels chiefly along an orthodromic line, that is, the shortest distance between two points at the surface of the globe, and reaches the receiver without the slightest dispersion, so that an incomparably greater amount is collected that is possible by radiations. I have thus provided a perfect means of transmitting power in any desired direction far more economically and without any such qualitative and quantitative limitations as the use of reflectors would necessarily involve.70

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.71

Tesla’s Magnifying Transmitter

1. Transformer comprising:

   a. Thick Coil of short length and few turns which acts as the primary in the transmitter and as the secondary in the receiver.

   b. Thin Coil of longer length and many turns which acts as the secondary in the transmitter and as the primary in the receiver. This coil would be 50 miles in length or one fourth the wavelength of a light wave whose circuit was 185,000    miles long.67

   c. Magnetic Core attached to the earth and elevated terminal.

2. Power Source deriving energy from coal or a waterfall.

3. Ground Connection.

4. Container of Liquid Air (-197o F) which causes “an extraordinary magnification of oscillation in the resonating circuit[s].”68

5. Elevated Terminal or bulbous top for accumulating stored charge to obtain highest possible frequency, a terminal of small capacity (like taunt spring) and high pressure is employed.

The sending and receiving magnifying transmitters are built essentially the same way. The length and size of the tower and transformer is in a harmonic relationship to the electromagnetic properties of the earth. It has a multi-purpose function. Standing waves generated in resonant relationship to known earth currents, could be used as carrier frequencies for transmitting electrical power.

Additional Criticisms

E. Kornhauser, a professor of electrical engineering at Brown University, in reviewing this section, is doubtful that the transmission of power this way could be effectively achieved because the earth is not an efficient conductor (for instance, as compared to a copper wire).

Concerning the possibility of creating wireless communication that could circumscribe the planet, Kornhauser conceded it was possible. He stated that the Navy had unsuccessfully tried to institute a world radar system utilizing extremely low frequencies. Project Seafarer, as it was named, purportedly could have set up communication even with submarines deep underwater at any point of the globe. However, the plan was scrapped, it appears, mainly because of the potential to markedly disturb existing radio and television frequencies, and also because of environmental fears.

The efficiency of Tesla’s radio receiving tubes was also questioned by Kornhauser, who thought it was doubtful that they would have been efficient enough as it would take another 15 years before radio tubes of any merit came into being. Kornhauser did say, however, that modern AM radio broadcasting stations use the earth as their primary means of transmitting their impulses. FM and television also use the earth, but the atmosphere in these instances is the more important medium for impulse transmission.

S. Seifer, a quality control manager for Frequency Electronics and also a teacher of electrical engineering at Nassau Community College, questions Tesla’s ability to pinpoint the transmission of electrical power to specific targets such as homes or industrial plants. In Seifer’s opinion, the energy would appear to be dispersed in all directions and be readily available to anyone with the correct receiving equipment.

F. F. Parry, director of energy research for the government suggested that Tesla’s wireless system probably failed because he possibly “ran into too many unresolved problems.” Parry suggests the construction of a “nondirected” wireless transmitter would be highly inefficient as earth, trees, buildings, etc., would absorb much of the energy. Further, there would be the potential for environmental damage. The problem of billing customers has also been suggested as an obvious flaw to the wireless system.

W. Braud, a parapsychologist from the Mind-Science Foundation, supports the hypothesis that such a wireless broadcasting station could be dangerous to the environment, and suggests that conscious or unconscious fears by potential backers and the public could have helped thwart the project.72 Tesla, himself, was aware of the potential danger of fires being caused by his wireless transmitter, and that is one of the reasons why he required great amounts of funds, just to make Wardenclyflfe fireproof. Tesla was also aware of most of the criticisms leveled against his enterprise.

Without his aid, only a shadow of his scheme became the basis of the present-day mass communications industry.


  1. Poulson confident of overseas phone. New York Times, 12/20/1907, 4:2,3 (condensed).
  2. Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court. The United States v. Marconi, 373,1-80, 4/9/1943.
  3. Pupin, Michael. From Immigrant to Inventor, Scribner, 1925, pp. 301-302.
  4. Golka, Robert. Private correspondence, 11/3/90.
  5. Conversations with Alexander Marincic and Robert Golka, Colorado Springs, Tesla Conference, International Tesla Society, 7/1990. [Tesla’s problem, as Golka saw it, was that in his attempts to “excite the cavity” (the earth-air-ionosphere system), he was using part of the system itself, Le., the earth, to push against. An analogous situation, perhaps, would be to try and propel a boat through the water without a motor or oar. Tesla needed a fulcrum that was exterior to the earth, and he didn’t have one.]
  6. Johler, J.R./Anderson, Leland correspondence, 8/25/1959; in Anderson, Leland, Nikola Tesla’s Work in Wireless Power Transmission, Denver, CO, 1991, (unpubl.).
  7. Dollard, Eric. Representations of Electric Induction: Nikola Tesla and the True Wireless. In S. Elswick, Ed., Proceedings of the 1986 Tesla Symposium. Colorado Springs, CO: International Tesla Society, pp. 2-25 - 2-83.
  8. Tesla, Nikola Tesla: On His Work With Alternating Currents and their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephone, and Transmission of Power. (1916). L. Anderson (Ed.), Denver CO, Sun Publishing, 1992, pp. 74-74,107.
  9. Seifer, Stanley, 1985, private correspondence.
  10. Stanton, Desire. Nikola Tesla’s Experiments in the Mountains. Mountain Sunshine, July-Aug, 1899, pp. 33-34.
  11. Tesla, Nikola. Terrestrial Night Light. New York Herald Tribune, 6/5/1935, p. 38.
  12. McCabe, Robert. Private correspondence, 1/27/1991.
  13. Tesla, Nikola. The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires. Scientific American Supplement, 6/4/1904, pp. 23760-23761.
  14. Tesla, Nikola. 1981 Solutions to Tesla’s Secrets. J. Ratzlaff (Ed), Mibrae, CA: Tesla Book Co., p. 86.
  15. Seifer, Marc. Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla, New York: Citadel Press, 1997, pp. 117, 283-284.
  16. As Dr. Marindc stated, this remarkable event cannot be found in the Colorado notebook, which, as we remember, is almost a daily log of his activities. If the event did occur, and there is no reason to believe that Tesla was lying, than either he did not record his findings, or the pages that they were written on were lost or destroyed.
  17. Tesla, Nikola. The Problem of Increasing Human Energy. The Century Magazine, June, 1900, p. 200.
  18. Tesla, Nikola. Tesla on the Wireless Transmission of Power. New York World, 5/16/1907.
  19. Tesla. 6/1900, p.202.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid, p.205.
  22. Ibid, p. 206.
  23. Tesla. The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace, Electrical World & Engineer, 1/1905.
  24. Tesla on wireless, 1907. In Tesla Said, John Ratzlaff (Ed.,), Tesla Book Company, Milbrae, CA, 1984, pp. 78-86.
  25. Tesla, 6/1900, p. 207.
  26. Tesla. The transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace. Electrical World & Engineer, 1/1905; in Tesla Said, 1984, pp. 78-86.
  27. Anderson, Leland. Side presentation, International Tesla Society, Colorado Springs, CO, 1988.
  28. Tesla, 6/1900, p. 207.
  29. Ibid, p. 208.
  30. Tesla, Electrical World & Engineer, 1905.
  31. Tesla/Katharine Johnson correspondence, Butler Library, Columbia University, NY, 4/19/1907.
  32. Tesla, 6/1900, pp. 208-209.
  33. Ibid, p. 209.
  34. Conot, Robert. Streak of Luck, NY: Bantam, 1980, p. 601.
  35. Tesla, 6/1900, p. 210.
  36. Carrigan, G., & Gubbins, P. The Earth as a Self-sustaining Dynamo. Scientific American, 2/1978, pp. 118-128; White, John, Pole Shift. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980.
  37. Pupin, 1925, p. 295.
  38. Telford, H. Applied Geophysics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. 468.
  39. Ibid, pp. 468-469.
  40. Toomey, J. Location of Sources of ELF Noises. Kingston, RI: Univ. Of RI, 1970.
  41. Tesla. Colorado Springs Notes, A. Marincic, (Ed), Belgrade: Tesla Museum, 1899, p. 18.
  42. Tesla plans to keep wireless “thumb” at ships at sea 1913, in Tesla Said, 1984, p.p. 126-127.
  43. Yost C. Electrical Weather Forces: A Tesla Vision. In E. Raucher & T. Grotz, (Eds), Tesla Centennial Symposium: 1984, International Tesla Society, pp. 77-88.
  44. Secor, H. Winfield. The Tesla high frequency oscillator. Electrical Experimenter, 3/1916, pp. 614-615,663.
  45. Jorgensen, T., & Omholt A. (Eds). Atmospheric Emissions. New York: Von Nostrand, Reinhold, 1968, pp. 134-139.
  46. Uman, M. Understanding Lightning. Carnegie, PA: Bek Tech. Publ., 1971, pp. 153-154.
  47. Toomey, 1970, p. 24.
  48. Yost, 1985, p. 84.
  49. Chalmers, J. Electricity. New York: Pergamon Press, 1967.
  50. Illustrated World Encyclopedia, 1977, p. 979.
  51. Tesla’s reply to Edison, 1905, in 1984, pp. 88-89.
  52. Tesla Said, 1984, p.225.
  53. Colorado Springs Notes, 1899, pp. 180-183; patent no. 649,621, in Nikola Tesla: Lectures, Patents & Articles. Belgrade: Nikola Tesla Museum, 1956, p. P-293.
  54. Tesla, 5/16/1900; patent no. 787,412. In 1956, pp.P-332-333.
  55. Tesla’s New Discovery, 1901; in 1984, p. 57.
  56. F.F. Parry/M. Seifer correspondence. Washington, DC: U.S. Energy Research & Development Administration, 5/10/1977.
  57. Tesla on the Peary North Pole, New York Sun, 1905, In 1984, pp. 90-91.
  58. Discussions with Stanley Seifer, 2/1991.
  59. Beardem, Tom. Tesla’s Secret. Planetary Association for Clean Energy, 3, pp. 12-24.
  60. Tesla, 1912; in 1984, p. 123.
  61. Ibid.
  62. Tesla, 1916; in Anderson, 1992, p. 138.
  63. Tesla on Wireless, 1907; in 1984, p. 107.
  64. Pioneer Radio Engineer Gives Views on Power, 1932; in 1984, p.242.
  65. Tesla patent no. 685,012, in 1956, pp. P-327-330. It is doubtful but possible that he considered using superconductivity, as this property of elements involving the expulsion of magnetism, occurs at temperatures almost twice as cold. This effect, which is an abrupt and discontinuous transition from a magnetic state to a non-magnetic state was officially discovered a decade later in 1911 by Kamerlingh Onnes (see J. Blatt, Theories of Superconductivity. NY: Academic Press, 1964).
  66. Tesla, 1897; in 1956, pp. P-283-294.
  67. Ibid, p. P-293.
  68. Ibid, p. P-328.
  69. Ibid, patent no. 685,956, pp. P-319-326.
  70. World System of Wireless Transmission of Energy, 1927, in Solutions to Tesla’s Secrets. J. Ratzlaff (Ed), Milbrae, CA: Tesla Book Co., 1981, pp. 83-86.
  71. Pioneer Radio Engineer Gives Views on Power, 1932; in 1984, p. 240.
  72. Private correspondence with E. Kornhauser, S. Seifer, F.F. Parry and W. Broad. See Chapter 37 of M. Seifer’s doctoral dissertation Nikola Tesla: Psychohistory of a Forgotten Inventor, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco, CA, 1986.

Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point in the universe. ...

Nikola Tesla (American Institute of Electrical Engineers address, 1891)


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