List of available articles on Tesla's death ray:
Proposing the "death ray" for defense - Philadelphia Inquirer - October 20, 1940
Tesla Tries to Prevent World War II by John J. O'Neill - Prodigal Genius, 1944
List of articles on Teleforce:
"On Roentgen Rays," Electrical Review, New York, March 11, 1896.
"Tesla Hints at Surprises," The Detroit News (noon edition) November 11, 1932.
"Electro-static Generators," Scientific American, March 1934.
"Nikola Tesla Writes," Scientific American, April 1934.
"Tesla Invents Peace Ray," New York Sun, July 10, 1934.
"Discovery of Force Rays to Surround Nations and Smash Attacker," Minneapolis Tribune, July 11, 1934.
"Death-Ray Machine Described," New York Sun, July 11, 1934.
"Tesla Has Beam to 'Destroy' Armies, Planes, at 200 Miles," Brooklyn Eagle, July 11, 1934.
"Tesla Bares New Death-Beam," New York Times July 11, 1934.
"Tesla Gives World Death Beam to End War Forever," New York Post, July 11, 1934.
"Beam to Kill Army at 200 Miles, Tesla's Claim on 78th Birthday," New York Herald Tribune, July 11, 1934.
"Tesla at 78," New York World Telegram, July 12, 1934.
"Scientists Doubt Death Ray Effect," New York World Telegram, July 13, 1934.
"Tesla Calls 'Death Beam' Boon to Industry," The Detroit News, July 15, 1934.
"Scores of Death Ray Inventors Still Await Future," New York Herald Tribune, July 15, 1934.
"Tesla's Death Ray," Detroit Free Press, July 16, 1934, p. 6.
"Tesla: Inventor has Scheme for Dealing Out Death Wholesale," Newsweek, July 21, 1934.
"The Death Ray Bobs Up Again," Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1934.
"Tesla's Ray," Time, July 23, 1934.
"Tesla on Power Development and Future Marvels," New York World Telegram, July 24, 1934.
"Why "Death Rays" Do Not Work, Tho Many Have Been Invented," Literary Digest, July 26, 1934, p. 18.
"Scientific Prophet - Nikola Tesla - The Death Ray," Scientific Progress, September 1934.
"The End of Aircraft in War," The Pittsburgh Press, October 21, 1934, (Sunday Mag.) p. 1.
"Dr. Tesla Visions the End of Aircraft In War," Every Week Magazine, October 21, 1934.
"A Machine To End War," by Nikola Tesla as told to George Sylvester Viereck, Liberty, February 1935.
"Tesla Predicts Ships Powered By Shore Beam," New York Herald Tribune, June 5, 1935.
"Nikola Tesla Explains his 'Death Beam'," New York Journal, August 10, 1935.
"Tesla Devises Vacuum Tube Atom-Smasher," New York Herald Tribune, July 9, 1937.
"Tesla Promises to light Dark Spot on Moon," New York Herald Tribune, July 11, 1937.
"Sending Messages to Planets Predicted by Tesla," New York Times, July 11, 1937.
"Tesla Looks Forward to Sending Waves to the Moon," New York Herald Tribune, August 22, 1937.
"Aerial Defense 'Death Beam' Offered to U. S. By Tesla," Baltimore Sun, July 12, 1940.
"'Death Ray' For Planes," New York Times, September 22, 1940.
"'Death Ray' for Defense," Philadelphia Inquirer, October 20, 1940.
"Tesla to Reveal New Invention," New York Sun, July 9, 1941.
"Tesla - 85th Birthday," New York Sun, July 11, 1941.
Robinson, C., "Soviet Push for a Beam Weapon," Aviation Week, May 2, 1977, pp. 16-27.
"Charged Debate Over Russian Beam Weapons," Science, May 1977, pp. 957-959.
Are Soviets testing Wireless Electric Power?, Washington Star, January 1, 1977, 1:5.
Corum, J.F. & K.L. Corum, "Critical Speculations Concerning Tesla's Invention and Application of Single Electrode X-Ray Directed Discharges for Power Processing, Terrestrial Resonances and Particle Beam Weapons," special presentation, Colorado Springs, 1986.
Corum, J.F., K.L. Corum, and J.F.X. Daum, "Some Thoughts on Tesla's Death Beam," Corum & Associates, 1991
(Pending to organize)
Death-Ray Machine Described
NY Sun, July 11, 1934
Tesla Bares New Death-Beam
NY Times July 11, 1934
Beam to Kill Army at 200 Miles
NY Herald Tribune, July 11, 1934
Tesla on Power Development and Future Marvels
NY World Telegram, July 24, 1934
Dr. Tesla Visions the End of Aircraft In War
Every Week Magazine, October 21, 1934
A Machine To End War
Liberty, Feb. 1935
Tesla Predicts Ships Powered By Shore Beam
NY Herald Tribune, June 5, 1935
Prepared Statement by Nikola Tesla
July 10, 1937
Tesla Looks Forward to Sending Waves to the Moon
NY Herald Tribune, August 22, 1937
Aerial Defense "Death Beam" Offered to U. S. by Tesla
Baltimore Sun, July 12, 1940
"Death Ray" For Planes
NY Times, September 22, 1940
"Death Ray" for Defense
Philadelphia Inquirer, October 20, 1940
New York Sun
July 11, 1934
DEATH-RAY MACHINE DESCRIBED
Dr. Tesla Says Two of Four Necessary Pieces of Apparatus Have Been Built
Amplifying his birthday anniversary announcement of the prospective invention of an electrical death-ray, or force beam, that would make any country impregnable in time of war, Dr. Nikola Tesla says that two of the four pieces of necessary apparatus already have been constructed and tested.
Four machines combine in the production and use of this destructive beam, which, according to Dr. Tesla would wipe out armies, destroy airplanes and level fortresses at a range limited only by the curvature of the earth. These four are:
First, apparatus for producing manifestations of energy in free air instead of in a high vacuum as in the past. This, it is said, has been accomplished.
Second, the development of a mechanism for generating tremendous electrical force. This, too, Dr. Tesla says, has been solved. The power necessary to achieve the predicted results has been estimated at 50,000,000 volts.
Third, a method of intensifying and amplifying the force developed by the second mechanism.
Fourth, a new method for producing a tremendous electrical repelling force. This would be the projector, or gun of the invention.
While the latter two elements in the plan have not yet been constructed, Dr. Tesla speaks of them as practically assured. Owing to the elaborate nature of the machinery involved, he admits it is merely a defense engine, though battleships could be equipped with smaller units and thus armed could sweep the seas.
In addition to the value of this engine for destruction in time of war, Dr. Tesla said it could be utilized in peace for the transmission of power. He had not developed ideas for receiving apparatus capable of transforming the destructive beam into work units, but considered this merely a matter of detail. No suggestion was made of what might happen if an enemy power obtained possession of one of these receiving outfits, and when attacked by the destructive beam simply put it to work in factories manufacturing munitions or uniforms.
Another addition to the anniversary message of the famous inventor was a positive declaration that he expected soon to construct apparatus that would disprove the theories of modern astronomers that the sun gradually was cooling off and eventually the earth would be unable to sustain life, as it would grow too cold.
New York Times
July 11, 1934
p. 18, c. 1
TESLA, AT 78, BARES NEW 'DEATH-BEAM'
Invention Powerful Enough to Destroy 10,000 Planes at 250 Miles Away, He Asserts Defensive Weapon Only
Scientist, In Interview, Tells of Apparatus That He Says Will Kill without Trace
Nikola Tesla, father of modern methods of generation and distribution of electrical energy, who was 78 years old yesterday, announced a new invention, or inventions, which he said, he considered the most important of the 700 made by him so far.
He has perfected a method and apparatus, Dr. Tesla said yesterday in an interview at the Hotel New Yorker, which will send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles from a defending nation's border and will cause armies of millions to drop dead in their tracks.
"Death-Beam" is Silent
This "death-beam," Dr. Tesla said, will operate silent!y but effectively at distances ''as far as a telescope could see an object on the ground and as far as the curvature of the earth would permit it." It will be invisible and will leave no marks behind it beyond its evidence of destruction.
An army of 1,000,000 dead, annihilated in an instant, he said, would not reveal even under the most powerful microscope just what catastrophe had caused its destruction.
When put in operation Dr. Tesla said this latest invention of his would make war impossible. This death-beam, he asserted, would surround each country like an invisible Chinese wall, only a million times more impenetrable. It would make every nation impregnable against attack by airplanes or by large invading armies.
But while it will make every nation safe against any attack by a would-be invader, Dr. Tesla added, the death-beam by its nature could not be employed similarly as a weapon for offense. For this death-beam, he explained, could be generated only from large, stationary and immovable power plants, stationed in the manner of old-time forts at various strategic distances from each country's border. They could not be moved for the purposes of attack.
An exception, however, he added, must be made in the case of battleships, which, he said, would be able to equip themselves with smaller plants for generating the death-beam, with enough power to destroy any airplane approaching for attack from the air.
Battleships to Be Supreme
The net result of the latter, Dr. Tesla said, will be to establish the supremacy of the battleship over the airplane, and to make the nation with the largest and best equipped battleships supreme over the seas. Submarines would become obsolete, he asserted, as methods for detecting them are so perfected that no advantage is gained by submerging. And once found, he added, the death-beam could be employed to do its work of destruction under water, though not as effectively as in the air.
The production of the death-beam, Dr. Tesla said, involves four new inventions, which have not been announced by him. The scientific details of these inventions are to be given out by him before the proper scientific bodies in the near future. In the meantime he gave out a general statement outlining their nature.
The first invention, he said, comprises a method and apparatus for producing rays and other manifestations of energy in free air, eliminating the high vacuum necessary at present for the production of such rays and beams.
The second is a method and process for producing "very great electrical force."
The third is a method for amplifying this process in the second invention.
The fourth, he said, is "a new method for producing a tremendous electrical repelling force."
The voltages to be employed in propelling the death-beam to their objective, Dr. Tesla said, will attain the lightning-like potential of 50,000,000 volts. with this enormous voltage, hitherto unattained by manmade means, microscopic particles of matter will be catapulted on their mission of defensive destruction, Dr. Tesla asserted.
New York Herald Tribune
July 11, 1934
pp. 1, 15
BEAM TO KILL ARMY AT 200 MILES, TESLA'S CLAIM ON 78TH BIRTHDAY
Death Ray Also Available as Power Agent in Peace Times, Inventor Declares
By Joseph w. Alsop, Jr.
Dr. Nikola Tesla, inventor of polyphase electric current, pioneer in high frequency transmission, predecessor of Marconi with the wireless, celebrated his seventy-eighth birthday yesterday by announcing his invention of a beam of force somewhat similar to the death ray of scientific romance.
It is capable, he believes, of destroying an army 200 miles away; it can bring down an airplane like a duck on the wing, and it can penetrate all but the most enormous thicknesses of armor plate. Since it must be generated at stationary power plants by machines which involve four electrical devices of the most revolutionary sort, Dr. Tesla considers it almost wholly a defensive weapon. In peace times, he says, the beam will also be used to transmit immense voltages of power over distances limited only by the curvature of the earth.
As an hors d'oeuvre to this Jules Vernean announcement, Dr. Tesla disclosed that he has lately perfected instruments which flatly disprove the present theory of the high physicists that the sun is destined to burn itself out until it is a cold cinder floating in space. Dr. Tesla stated that he is able to show that all the suns in the universe are constantly growing in mass and heat, so that the ultimate fate of each is explosion.
Dr. Tesla refused to describe specifically the instruments in question in both discoveries, or even to disclose the principles upon which they are built. He said that at some date soon he expected to make the full details public in scientific journals or before scientific bodies. Since he considers the beam of force a defensive and therefore a pacifist weapon, he hopes to be able to present it in full for the first time at the disarmament conference at Geneva. He also said that minor parts of each of the discoveries are still in the theoretical, or blueprint stage, but he pointed out that his method of work has almost always been purely mental.
The aging inventor, a tall, thin, almost spiritual figure in the sort of brown cutaway suit that older men wore before the World War, received interviewers in one of the public rooms in the Hotel New Yorker, where he lives. Before he would speak of his present work he reviewed his past achievements, which entitle him more than Edison, Steinmetz or any other, to be called the father of the power age. He has 700 patents to his credit and not a few of them are for epoch-making discoveries, but over and over again he has been ridiculed as a lunatic. He recalled this and his work together as if to prepare the way for his announcements.
He came to the idea of a beam of force, he said, because of his belief that no weapon has ever been found that is not as successful offensively as defensively. The perfect weapon of defense, he felt, would be a frontier wall, impenetrable and extending up to the limits of the atmosphere of the earth.
Creates Rays in Free Air
Such a wall, he believes, is provided by his beam of force. It is produced by a combination of four electrical methods or apparatuses. First and most important is a mechanism for producing rays and other energy manifestations in free air. Hitherto vacuum tubes have always been necessary. Second is an apparatus for producing unheard-of quantities of electrical current and for controlling it when produced.
The current is necessary as power for the first mechanism. Without this, no rays of sufficient strength could be produced. The third is a method of intensifying and amplifying the second process, and the fourth is a method of producing "tremendous electrical repellent force."
"These four inventions in combination enable man to loose in free air forces beyond conception," Dr. Tesla remarked mildly. "By scientific application we can project destructive energy in thread-like beams as far as a telescope can discern an object. The range of the beams is only limited by the curvature of the earth. Should you launch an attack in an area covered by these beams, should you, say, send in 10,000 planes or an army of a million, the planes would be brought down instantly and the army destroyed.
"The plane is thus absolutely eliminated as a weapon; it is confined to commerce. And a country's whole frontier can be protected by one of the plants producing these beams every 200 miles. Nor should they be much more costly than an ordinary power plant."
It Is an Electric Gun
The beam of force itself, as Dr. Tesla described it, is a concentrated current—it need be no thicker than a pencil—of microscopic particles moving at several hundred times the speed of artillery projectiles. The machine into which Dr. Tesla combines his four devices is, in reality, a sort of electrical gun.
He illustrated the sort of thing that the particles will be by recalling an incident that occurred often enough when he was experimenting with a cathode tube. Then, sometimes, a particle larger than an electron, but still very tiny, would break off from the cathode, pass out of the tube and hit him. He said he could feel a sharp, stinging pain where it entered his body, and again at the place where it passed out. The particles in the beam of force, ammunition which the operators of the generating machine will have to supply, will travel far faster than such particles as broke off from the cathode, and they will travel in concentrations, he said.
As Dr. Tesla explained it, the tremendous speed of the particles will give them their destruction-dealing qualities. All but the thickest armored surfaces confronting them would be melted through in an instant by the heat generated in the concussion.
Some Parts Still Unmade
Such beams or rays of particles now known to science are composed always of fragments of atoms, whereas, according to Dr. Tesla, his would be of microscopic dust of a suitable sort. The chief differentiation between his and the present rays would appear to be, however, that his are produced in free air instead of in a vacuum tube. The vacuum tube rays have been projected out into the air, but there they travel only a few inches, and they are capable only of causing burns or slight disintegration of objects which they strike.
Dr. Tesla declared that the two most important of the four devices involved in his force beam generator, the mechanism for producing rays in free air and the mechanism for producing great quantities of electrical current had both been constructed and demonstrated by actual experiments. The two intensifying and amplifying apparatuses are not yet in existence but he displayed the most perfect confidence that when they are, they will work as he expects them to do.
"These effects," he said, "are of the kind that can be calculated with the most positive accuracy. Like many other things I have done they require no previous experiment once they are properly conceived. There are a few details to be finished—my calculation might be perhaps 10 per cent off at present—and then the whole thing will be presented to the world. It has always been my practice to give the world a sort of preview of what I am doing so that a reception is prepared."
"I should also say, and this is perhaps as important as anything else about it, that in this apparatus all limitations as to electric force and the quantity of electricity transmitted have been removed."
It was evident that Dr. Tesla's work on the force beam as a peace-time means of power transmission was far less advanced than his work on it as a defensive weapon. He did not describe the nature of the receiver which will transform the force beam into useful power, though he declared that he had designed one, nor was he able tb show just how the dangers of having such death-dealing but invisible beams traveling through the air could be surmounted.
Dr. Tesla was far less definite in his description of the experiments which led to his revolutionary prediction of the future of the sun and its system than he was when talking of the force beam. He had, he said, detected "certain motions in the medium that fills space, and measured the effects of these motions." The results of the experiments had led his "inescapably" to the conclusion that such bodies as the sun are taking on mass much more rapidly than they are dissipating it by the dissipation of energy in heat and light.
"Heat to Kill All Peoples"
He pointed out that his theory means a future for the earth as different from the general belief as the future of the sun. It is generally held that life on the earth will cease when the sun grows so cold that the earth temperature drops to a point where life can no longer be supported. Dr. Tesla prophesies that life on the earth will cease because the planet will grow too warm to support life, and he believes that life will then begin on outer planets now too cold. He said that his discovery not only allowed him to predict a very different future for the heavenly bodies from that now generally expected for them, but also to calculate in a new way their age.
Nor were these two discoveries, of a force beam and a new future for the universe, the only new things Dr. Tesla had to offer. The completely new and unlimited source of energy which he stated he was at work on is, he said, still under examination by him. Since he first spoke of it great strides have been made, and the complete announcement of it is to be expected in a comparatively short time.
Finally there was the electric bath. The idea of a bath of electricity to cleanse the person far more completely than water-ever could has always been at the back of Dr. Tesla's mind. Many years ago he built a machine which performed the function successfully, but, because it Cost too much and was not without its dangers, he dropped it as impractical. Lately he has improved it so much that he feels it is now fit for general use.
Works Twenty Hours Daily
"You may think this is a lot of work for an old man like me to have on his hands," he said with a little smile. "You may think I have too many big things—I have told you three—on my hands. But I have worked for sixty years now, and I have such a store of ideas that I can see clearly. I have concentrated on my subject. My brain works better now than it ever did when I was a young man. I am capable of far more than I was in what they call 'your prime."'
He smiled again. The white, parchmenty skin, drawn tight over a finely built bony structure, creased round his eyes and mouth. He admitted to being a little thinner than last year, but, he explained, everyone dries up, as time goes on, and there is nothing in being thin that can interfere with work.
He was asked a question about birthday celebrations and congratulations. He had received congratulations from all over the world, he said, but the one which pleased him most was from his sister in Jugoslavia, Mrs. Marica Kosanovic, who is three years younger than he and "the smartest in all our family." He talked for a while of his family, recalling all the inventors there were—five recorded—and students in his ancestry.
"As for celebration," he added, "my only celebration is a little work, and these small disclosures of results."
New York World Telegram
July 24, 1934
TESLA ON POWER DEVELOPMENT AND FUTURE MARVELS
By Nikola Tesla.
I am a reader of your excellent paper and frequently preserve excerpts of interest to me for future reference.
One of these is an article by William Engle, in your issue of June 29, 1934, dealing with hydro-electric development in which the author characterizes my recent announcement of a new inexhaustible source of power as "nebulous."
A preliminary information is necessarily incomplete, but I always make sure that it is based on demonstrated fact and accurate as far as it goes. My illustrious namesake, Copernicus, used to go twenty times over his scientific statements before giving them out; nevertheless, compared with the attention I bestow upon my own, he might have been considered a careless man.
The author of the article gives an eloquent account of water power development, recalling vividly to my mind the almost miraculous way in which success with my alternating system was achieved. As I review the past, I realize how fortunate it was that at the time when, after years of fruitless talking to deaf ears, I finally managed tb be heard by a few, there was a man in the electrical industry towering above all others, like Samson over the Philistines. A genius of the first degree, inventive ability and mastery of business, a man truly great, of phenomenal powers—George Westinghouse. He espoused my cause and undertook to wage a war against overwhelming odds.
The alternating current was completely discredited, decried as deadly and of no commercial value. Edison thought that the wires might be used for hanging laundry to dry. Steinmetz had a very poor opinion of my induction motor. The old interests were powerful and resolved to fight any encroachment on their business by all means fair or foul. But Westinghouse was not dismayed and threw all his energy and resources into the battle of the century. More than once he came near to being snuffed out, but finally he routed his opponents and put the new industry on a firm foundation. It was a monumental achievement unparalleled in the history of technical development. The service he rendered to the world is beyond estimate.
But it took another human dynamo, a genius of a different kind—Samuel Insull—to enlarge on the work of Westinghouse and apply the system on a colossal scale.
Insull concentrated his efforts on cheapening the production, transmission and distribution of power. He recognized early the economic advantages of large units and prevailed upon the manufacturers to supply him with huge turbo-generators, regardless of cost. He introduced other improvements raising the efficiency and range of central stations and finally realized, practically and successfully, the Super Power System which I had barely suggested in 1893. The results he obtained were such as to astonish engineers, and his bold example was quickly followed here as well as in other countries, saving immense sums of money to the consumers.
At present the work of Westinghouse and Insull is carried further in every corner of the globe, providing new resources, transforming cities and communities and contributing to the safety, comfort and convenience of hundreds of millions. Let us thank the stars that these great pioneers lived in our time, as otherwise we might have had to wait a century for the benefits we now enjoy.
* * *
Another item of interest to me is your flattering editorial of July 12, 1934, with a fly in the ointment since you state that examination of performance does not in recent cases fulfill my prophecy. Perhaps not, but on the whole I have been extraordinarily successful. You would be surprised to know how many of my discoveries and inventions are in extensive use. To give an illustration, I may refer to my wireless system of transmission of energy which is looked upon by many as a pipe dream.
These uninformed people should be told that "wireless" is not a single invention but an art involving the use of many of them, and of them I have contributed the fundamental and most essential, and they are universally employed. There is as yet no pressing necessity for wireless transmission of power in industrial amounts, but as soon as it arises the system will be applied and with perfect success.
Still another item which has interested me is a report from Washington in the World-Telegram of July 13, 1934, to the effect that scientists doubt the death ray effect. I am quite in agreement with these doubters and probably more pessimistic in this respect than anybody else for I speak from long experience.
Rays of the requisite energy can not be produced, and then, again, their intensity diminishes with the square of the distance. Not so the agent I employ, which will enable us to transmit to a distant point billions of times more energy than is possible by any kind of ray.
We are all fallible, but as I examine the subject in the light of my present theoretical and experimental knowledge I am filled with deep conviction that r am giving to the world something far beyond the wildest dreams of inventors of all time.
Every Week Magazine
Oct. 21, 1934
DR. TESLA VISIONS THE END OF AIRCRAFT IN WAR
By Helen Welshimer
"America Enters War!" "United States Joins Allies!" "Congress Declares War!" The newsboys were screaming the headlines through the rainy April night. Men and women stood on corners, talking, talking, talking
The drift of the days went on. Troop trains pulled out of the stations, from Centreville, Mississippi, up to Bangor, Maine. The drums blew. The ships sailed and the casualty lists came back. One by one the gold stars replaced the white
And 1917 drifted into 1918.
Dr. Nikola Tesla was in his laboratory trying hard to solve a problem of ages. Once in a while he raised his head to listen. Then he turned back to his experiments. He was going to end war!
The noted inventor, 78 years old now, already had 700 inventions to his credit. This was to be his greatest.
Years marched on. The fanfare and the drums were done. The dead were buried. The living came home.
Now, 15 years after the war has ended, Tesla, one of the greatest inventors of all time, has announced that his invention to end all wars, by a perfect means of defense which any nation can employ, is ready. Soon, he says, he will take it to Geneva to present it to the Peace Conference.
Whether it is a dream or reality may soon be known. He claims to have created a new agent, silent and invisible, which kills without trace and yet pierces the thickest armor. It is a beam of death and destruction formed of minute particles of matter carrying such tremendous energy that they could bring down a fleet of 10,000 attacking planes and wipe out an army of millions at a distance of 250 miles.
"The invention,' said Dr. Tesla, "will make war impossible for it will surround any country using this means with an impenetrable, invisible wall of protection. Plants for the generating of this beam will be erected along the coasts and near cities. One plant will afford perfect safety within an area of 40.000 square miles.
"The beam will be effective at any distance at which the object to be destroyed can be perceived through a telescope. Every country will have to adopt this invention, for without it a nation will be helpless.
"The beam, intended chiefly for defense, will be projected from an electric power plant, ready to be put in action at the first sign of danger. The cost of operation will be insignificant, as the plant is chiefly intended for use in emergency. But to make the investment profitable in times of peace it may be commercially employed for a number of purposes."
Dr. Tesla wishes it to be understood that the means he has perfected has nothing in common with the so-called "death ray."
"It is impossible to develop such a ray. I worked on that idea for many years." he says, "before my ignorance was dispelled and I became convinced that it could not be realized. This new beam of mine consists of minute bullets moving at a terrific speed, and any amount of power desired can be transmitted by them. The whole plant is just a gun, but one which is incomparably superior to the present."
The picture of the protected world, in which men will devote their time in pursuits of peace, is a strangely fascinating one.
Imagine the map of the world, every country surrounded by great plants which will offer absolute protection to the nation itself and instant death to any intruders. Only ships flying white flags of peace can sail into a foreign harbor.
The power plants, resembling forts placed at strategic distances along a country's border, will be on guard. As they are immovable, they will constitute essentially means for defense, and by making invasion impossible will greatly advance the cause of peace.
If, occasionally, nations decide that they must have war just for the thrill of a throbbing drum and a singing bugle, it can be staged on the sea, Dr. Tesla says. Navy supremacy will banish aircraft.
"The airplane will cease to be used as a means of offense," the great inventor explains. "It will be used entirely for peace, as it should he. An airplane, through the very nature of its construction, can not carry with it a generating plant for the beam. If it comes in contact with a country which is protected, it has no chance.
"The battleships will ride to sea safe from air raids, for they will be equipped with smaller plants for generating a beam of sufficient power to destroy any attacking airplane. But they will not be permitted to come near the shore Of a protected country and attack it with any chance of success.
"The nation which has the best equipped battleships, however, will gain the supremacy of the seas. Submarines will be obsolete, for the methods of detecting them will be perfected to such a degree that there will be no longer any advantage in submerging. When a submarine is located the beams will function under water, though not quite so effectively as in air."
Four new inventions of Dr. Tesla are involved in the creation of the beam.
"Briefly, the first comprises a method and apparatus for producing rays and other manifestations of energy in free air, eliminating the high vacuum heretofore indispensable." he explains.
"The second one is the process for producing electrical force of immense power.
"The third method amplifies the process, and the fourth produces a tremendous electrical repelling force."
In times of peace such a plant can be used to transmit power in any amount up to its full capacity and to any place on the earth visible through a telescope, according to its inventor. Voltages never before attained, of 50,000.000 volts or more, will have to be applied.
The man who is responsible for so many discoveries and improvements has devoted his entire life to his scientific pursuits. Tall, lean, reserved, his path goes between the two small laboratories and the various manufacturing plants with which he has contact.
Born in Yugoslavia, Tesla comes from a race of inventors.
"On my mother's side, for three generations, almost all members of the families were inventors," he says. "My mother was Georgianna Mandic, who was noted as an inventor of household appliances. One of the things which she perfected was her own weaving machine.
"Her family can be traced back to the seventh century, in the historical records. My grandfather was an officer in Napoleon's army."
Tesla began to invent at the age of six. As he grew up his interest focused in the laboratory.
"I sleep about one and one-half hours a night." the inventor says. "I think that is enough for any man. When I was young I needed more sleep. But age doesn't require so much. There are so many things to do I do not want to spend time sleeping needlessly. In my family all were poor sleepers. Time spent in sleep is lost time, we always felt."
Tesla, busy with his 700 inventions, never had time for marriage. He never had a girl in his young days. He never had a romance. There was no leisure for them.
His diet is simple. He lives chiefly on vegetables, cereals and milk. The menu includes onions, spinach, celery, carrots, lettuce, with potatoes occasionally. Whites of eggs and milk complete the diet. There is no meat on his vegetable plate. He never smokes or tastes tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages or any other stimulant.
While he is perfecting the beam which will defend nations from attach, the inventor is playing with other ideas. He goes from one to the other, he says, as this or that gains paramount interest or some new clue is suggested.
"But what is giving me more fun than anything I have done for a long, long time," Dr. Tesla explains, "is an electric bath which I hope to have ready for general use very soon.
"It doesn't require much room. There is a platform on which the person stands. He turns on the current. Instantly all foreign material such as dust, dandruff, scales on the skin and microbes is thrown off from the body. The nerves, too, are exhilarated and strengthened. The 'bath' is excellent for medical as well as for cleaning purposes."
However, the war picture gives the master inventor more satisfaction than the minor inventions. He is rejoicing because his instrument of death will save millions of lives and inestimable property.
His only regret is that there may be another war before the discoveries he has made have been placed before the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, and generally adopted by the nations of the world.
"The next war, and I am afraid that there will be one before long," he says, "will be fought in the air. But if the beam is adopted war in the air will cease.
"Whatever battles there are thereafter will be confined to the sea. But no nation will dare to attack another nation when every country is armed. There will be a general feeling of safety throughout the world."
A MACHINE TO END WAR
Liberty, Feb. 1935
Tesla. "It seems," he says, "that I have always been ahead of my time."
A Famous Inventor, Picturing Life 100 years from Now, Reveals an Astounding Scientific Venture Which Believes Will Change the Course of History.
by NIKOLA TESLA
As told to George Sylvester Viereck
READING TIME 11 MINUTES 20 SECONDS
Editor's Note: Nikola Tesla, now in his seventy-eighth year, has been called the father of radio, television, power transmission, the induction motor, and the robot, and the discoverer of the cosmic ray. Recently he has announced a heretofore unknown source of energy present everywhere in unlimited amounts, and he is now working upon a device which he believes will make war impracticable.
Tesla and Edison have often been represented as rivals. They were rivals, to a certain extent, in the battle between the alternating and direct current in which Tesla championed the former. He won; the great power plants at Niagara Falls and elsewhere are founded on the Tesla system. Otherwise the two men were merely opposites. Edison had a genius for practical inventions immediately applicable. Tesla, whose inventions were far ahead of the time, aroused antagonisms which delayed the fruition of his ideas for years.
However, great physicists like Kelvin and Crookes spoke of his inventions as marvelous. "Tesla," said Professor A. E. Kennelly of Harvard University when the Edison medal was presented to the inventor, "set wheels going round all over the world. . . . What he showed was a revelation to science and art unto ail time."
"Were we," remarks B. A. Behrend, distinguished author and engineer," to seize and to eliminate the results of Mr. Tesla's work, the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our electric cars and trains would stop, our towns would be dark, our mills would be dead and idle."
FORECASTING is perilous. No man can look very far into the future. Progress and invention evolve in directions other than those anticipated. Such has been my experience, although I may flatter myself that many of the developments which I forecast have been verified by events in the first third of the twentieth century.
It seems that I have always been ahead of my time. I had to wait nineteen years before Niagara was harnessed by my system, fifteen years before the basic inventions for wireless which I gave to the world in 1893 were applied universally. I announced the cosmic ray and my theory of radio activity in 1896. One of my most important discoveries—terrestrial resonance—which is the foundation of wireless power transmission and which I announced in 1899, is not understood even today. Nearly two years after I had flashed an electric current around the globe, Edison, Steinmetz, Marconi, and others declared that it would not be possible to transmit even signals by wireless across the Atlantic. Having anticipated so many important developments, it is not without assurance that I attempt to predict what life is likely to be in the twenty-first century.
Life is and will ever remain an equation incapable of solution, but it contains certain known factors. We may definitely say that it is a movement even if we do not fully understand its nature. Movement implies a body which is being moved and a force which propels it against resistance. Man, in the large, is a mass urged on by a force. Hence the general laws governing movement in the realm of mechanics are applicable to humanity.
There are three ways by which the energy which determines human progress can be increased: First, we may increase the mass. This, in the case of humanity, would mean the improvement of living conditions, health, eugenics, etc. Second, we may reduce the frictional forces which impede progress, such as ignorance, insanity, and religious fanaticism. Third, we may multiply the energy of the human mass by enchaining the forces of the universe, like those of the sun, the ocean, the winds and tides.
The first method increases food and well-being. The second tends to bring peace. The third enhances our ability to work and to achieve. There can be no progress that is not constantly directed toward increasing well-being, peace, and achievement. Here the mechanistic conception of life is one with the teachings of Buddha and the Sermon on the Mount.
While I am not a believer in the orthodox sense, I commend religion, first, because every individual should have some ideal —religious, artistic, scientific, or humanitarian—to give significance to his life. Second, because all the great religions contain wise prescriptions relating to the conduct of life, which hold good now as they did when they were promulgated.
There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is barn. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call "soul " or "spirit," is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the "soul" or the "spirit" ceases likewise.
I expressed these ideas long before the behaviorists, led by Pavlov in Russia and by Watson in the United States, proclaimed their new psychology. This apparently mechanistic conception is not antagonistic to an ethical conception of life. The acceptance by mankind at large of these tenets will not destroy religious ideals. Today Buddhism and Christianity are the greatest religions both in number of disciples and in importance. I believe that the essence of both will he the religion of the human race in the twenty-first century.
The year 2100 will see eugenics universally established. In past ages, the law governing the survival of the fittest roughly weeded out the less desirable strains. Then man's new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. As a result, we continue to keep alive and to breed the unfit. The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct, Several European countries and a number of states of the American Union sterilize the criminal and the insane. This is not sufficient. The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult. Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.
Hygiene, physical culture will be recognized branches of education and government. The Secretary of Hygiene or Physical Culture will he far more important in the cabinet of the President of the United States who holds office in the year 2035 than the Secretary of War. The pollution of our beaches such as exists today around New York City will seem as unthinkable to our children and grandchildren as life without plumbing seems to us. Our water supply will he far more carefully supervised, and only a lunatic will drink unsterilized water.
MORE people die or grow sick from polluted water than from coffee, tea, tobacco, and other stimulants. I myself eschew all stimulants. I also practically abstain from meat. I am convinced that within a century coffee, tea, and tobacco will be no longer in vogue. Alcohol, however, will still be used. It is not a stimulant but a veritable elixir of life. The abolition of stimulants will not come about forcibly. It will simply be no longer fashionable to poison the system with harmful ingredients. Bernarr Macfadden has shown how it is possible to provide palatable food based upon natural products such as milk, honey, and wheat. I believe that the food which is served today in his penny restaurants will be the basis of epicurean meals in the smartest banquet halls of the twenty-first century.
There will be enough wheat and wheat products to feed the entire world, including the teeming millions of China and India, now chronically on the verge of starvation. The earth is bountiful, and where her bounty fails, nitrogen drawn from the air will refertilize her womb. I developed a process for this purpose in 1900. It was perfected fourteen years later under the stress of war by German chemists.
Long before the next century dawns, systematic reforestation and the scientific management of natural resources will have made an end of all devastating droughts, forest fires, and floods. The universal utilization of water power and its long-distance transmission will supply every household with cheap power and will dispense with the necessity of burning fuel. The struggle for existence being lessened, there should be development along ideal rather than material lines.
Today the most civilized countries of the world spend a maximum of their income on war and a minimum on education. The twenty-first century will reverse this order. It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle. The discovery of a new scientific truth will be more important than the squabbles of diplomats. Even the newspapers of our own day are beginning to treat scientific discoveries and the creation of fresh philosophical concepts as news. The newspapers of the twenty-first century will give a mere "stick" in the back pages to accounts of crime or political controversies, but will headline on the front pages the proclamation of a new scientific hypothesis.
"It will be possible to destroy anything approaching within 200 miles. My invention will provide a wall of power," declares Tesla.
PROGRESS along such lines will be impossible while nations persist in the savage practice of killing each other off. I inherited from my father, an erudite man who labored hard for peace, an ineradicable hatred of war. Like other inventors, I believed at one time that war could he stopped by making it more destructive. But I found that I was mistaken. I underestimated man's combative instinct, which it will take more than a century to breed out. We cannot abolish war by outlawing it. We cannot end it by disarming the strong. War can be stopped, not by making the strong weak but by making every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself.
Hitherto all devices that could be used for defense could also be utilized to serve for aggression. This nullified the value of the improvement for purposes of peace. But I was fortunate enough to evolve a new idea and to perfect means which can be used chiefly for defense. If it is adopted, it will revolutionize the relations between nations. It will make any country, large or small, impregnable against armies, airplanes, and other means for attack. My invention requires a large plant, but once it is established it will he possible tb destroy anything, men or machines, approaching within a radius of 200 miles. It will, so to speak, provide a wall of power offering an insuperable obstacle against any effective aggression.
If no country can be attacked successfully, there can be no purpose in war. My discovery ends the menace of airplanes or submarines, but it insures the supremacy of the battleship, because battleships may be provided with some of the required equipment. There might still be war at sea, but no warship could successfully attack the shore line, as the coast equipment will be superior to the armament of any battleship.
I want to state explicitly that this invention of mine does not contemplate the use of any so-called " death rays." Rays are not applicable because they cannot be produced in requisite quantities and diminish rapidly in intensity with distance. All the energy of New York City (approximately two million horsepower) transformed into rays and projected twenty miles, could not kill a human being, because, according to a well known law of physics, it would disperse to such an extent as to be ineffectual.
My apparatus projects particles which may.be relatively large or of microscopic dimensions, enabling us to convey to a small area at a great distance trillions of times more energy than is possible with rays of any kind. Many thousands of horsepower can thus be transmitted by a stream thinner than a hair, so that nothing can resist. This wonderful feature will make it possible, among other things, to achieve undreamed-of results in television, for there will be almost no limit to the intensity of illumination, the size of the picture, or distance of projection.
I do not say that there may not be several destructive wars before the world accepts my gift. I may not live to see its acceptance. But I am convinced that a century from now every nation will render itself immune from attack by my device or by a device based upon a similar principle.
At present we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age. The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine.
Innumerable activities still performed by human hands today will be performed by automatons. At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a "thinking machine." I anticipated this development.
I actually constructed "robots." Today the robot is an accepted fact, but the principle has not been pushed far enough. In the twenty-first century the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization. There is no reason at all why most of this should not come to pass in less than a century, treeing mankind to pursue its higher aspirations.
And unless mankind's attention is too violently diverted by external wars and internal revolutions, there is no reason why the electric millennium should not begin in a few decades.
New York Herald Tribune
June 5, 1935
TESLA PREDICTS SHIPS POWERED BY SHORE BEAM
Scoffs at Normandic "Speed"
Sees Success for His Plan to Use Stratosphere Ray
Would Light Sea at Night
Says French Liner's System Copied His in U. S. Boats
Dr. Nikola Tesla, scientist and seer whose discoveries in the fields of polyphase electrical current and wireless place him in the front rank of modern inventors, refused yesterday to be awed by the record speed achievement of the French liner Normandie in crossing the Atlantic in 4 days 11 hours 42 minutes and predicted that enormous ships would cross the ocean at far greater speeds by means of a high-tension current projected from power plants on shore to vessels at sea through the upper reaches of the atmosphere.
In his room at the Hotel New Yorker, dressed in a blue bathrobe, blue socks and red slippers, Dr. Tesla expounded the principles of his fabulous method of power transmission—a method which he has been developing at irregular intervals from as far back as 1897. The virtues of stratosphere transmission, he said, lay not only in its potential increase of a vessel's speed but also in its power to eliminate the dangers of nocturnal navigation.
In short, high-tension currents of electricity passing through the stratosphere would light the sky and to a degree turn night into day. With power plants stationed at intermediate posts such as upon the Azores and Bermuda, vessels could cross the Atlantic, propelled and safeguarded at the same time by electricity generated ashore. There would no longer be danger of boiler explosions nor hazards of collisions at sea. Even on moonless, cloudy nights, there still would gleam overhead the faint rays of surging electrical currents, so strong that pilots would be able to distinguish objects miles away.
Normandie Uses U. S. Cruiser System
Dr. Tesla, a tall, slender man with straight silvery hair, lean features and bright blue eyes that belie his seventy-eight years, prefaced his prophecies by pointing out that the Normandie's system of power generation and application was not new—but one which had been adopted long ago in some of the United States cruisers. The principle is one of his own invention.
"The Normandie," he said, "employs an 'electric drive' in which turbines drive generators and generators supply the current to independent motors. In this case the turbines are driven by steam, the generators are of the three-phase type and the motors are of the induction type.
"In many respects the machinery installed on the United States cruisers by former Secretary Josephus Daniels is more remarkable than that on the Normandie on account of the limitations of available space. Moreover, while the Normandie develops only 160,000 horsepower, the 'cruisers each develop 185,000 horsepower. These cruisers employ the most remarkable engine plants in the world, and I believe that this drive would not have been employed on the Normandie had it not been for the pioneering work done in the United States.
"In view of the adoption on such a large scale of these inventions of mine, it is interesting to recall that I was violently attacked only a few years ago by a professor of marine engineering at Columbia, who claimed the electrical drive was not feasible and that it was folly to undertake it.
"However splendid the machinery on the Normandie might be, the time is not distant when we will have much simpler and better means of propulsion."
Cites His Force Beam as One Way
Here Dr. Tesla recalled the possibilities of his force beam of particles which he announced last year as a potential defensive weapon of great value. One of its aspects is a death ray capable of destroying airplanes and armies. Another is a means of power transmission which could be used to relay immense voltages of power over distances limited only by the curvature of the earth.
The difficulties inherent in using this method as a means of propulsion for oceangoing ships, however, were seen by Dr. Tesla to lie in the necessity of vast outlays of capital and concerted harmonious endeavor by the chief nations of the world. The latter, he said, would be impossible to achieve at the present time. A third difficulty would be the task of keeping a ship at sea constantly in touch with a thread-like beam of particles from ashore.
Dr. Tesla, therefore, suggested that his other scheme, of stratosphere transmission of electricity, would be a far more feasible means of marine propulsion. The principles of the two plans are entirely distinct. The force beam is a thin barrage of tiny particles discharged at tremendous velocities from a kind of electrical gun. The other invention, which he has not hitherto discussed publicly, is of transmitting high tension currents through the upper air, and receiving them by means of a vertical ionizing beam which would be a sort of invisible electrode. He discussed this yesterday:
Started New Idea in 1897
"There is a method of conveying great power to ships at sea which would be able to propel them across oceans at high speed. This method I conceived between 1897 and 1899, and in Colorado Springs in 1899 I made experiments along this line on a large scale.
"The principle is this: A ray of great ionizing power is used to give to the atmosphere great powers of conduction. A high tension current of 10,000,000 to 12,000,000 volts is then passed along this ray to the upper strata of the air, which strata can be broken down very readily and will conduct electricity very well.
"A ship would have to have equipment for producing a similar ionizing ray. The current which has passed through the stratosphere will strike this ray, travel down it and pass into the engines which propel the ship.
Pet Scheme to Light Ocean
"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 has been to light the ocean at night.
"However, since 1902 I have made many improvements in my method which I know now will assure success. A power plant upon the Azores, for instance, could send a current up into the stratosphere and illuminate the sky sufficiently for pilots to discern objects upon the ocean at a safe distance."
Dr. Tesla said that he was working constantly every day to perfect his force beam, his method of stratosphere transmission of power, and a number of other inventions the nature of which he was not ready to disclose. When it was called to his attention that he was working pretty hard for a man who would be seventy-nine years old next month, he replied:
"Why, I'm young. I never think of my age. Really, you know, I'm just a youngster."
July 12, 1940
AERIAL DEFENSE "DEATH BEAM" OFFERED TO U. S. BY TESLA
Noted Inventor Says His Ray will Melt Plane Motors at 250 Mile Range
New York, July 11—Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest electrical inventors of the century, who reached 84 yesterday, said today he was ready to divulge to the United States Government the secret of a "death beam" that would melt airplane motors at a distance of 250 miles and thus would build an invisible wall of defense around the country against attempted attack by an air force, no matter how large.
Dr. Tesla first described his "death beam" six years ago on the day he reached 78.
Dr. Tesla, who spent this birthday at work on his inventions, offered his services to the Government in reply to a question over the telephone whether his death beam had reached the stage of practical application.
At Service of U. S.
"All my inventions," he said, "are at the service of the United States Government."
The death beam, he said, is "based on an entirely new principle of physics that no one has ever dreamed about." The principle, he added, was different from those relating to the transmission of electrical power by wireless, as announced by him several years ago.
The beam, he said, would be only one hundred-millionth of a square centimeter in diameter and could be generated from a special plant that would cost no more than $2,000,000 and would take only about three months to construct. A dozen such plants, located at strategic positions along the coast, he said, would be enough to defend the country against all possible aerial attack.
Would Melt Any Engine
The beam would melt any engine, whether Diesel or gasoline driven, and would also ignite any explosives aboard. No possible defense against it could be devised, as it would be all-penetrating, he declared.
Should the Government decide to take up his offer, he said, he would go to work at once and keep on working "until I collapse." However, he added, "I would have to insist on one condition—I would not suffer interference from any experts. They would have to trust me." He was in good health, he said, and felt confident he could undertake the task.
The beam, he said, involved four new inventions:
A method and apparatus for producing rays and other manifestations of energy in free air, eliminating the necessity for high vacuums.
A method and process for producing "very great electrical force."
A method for amplifying this force.
A new method for producing "a tremendous electrical repelling force."
This would be the projector, or gun, of the system. The voltages for propelling the death beam to its objective, he stated, will attain a potential of 50,000,000 volts.
With this enormous voltage, he said, microscopic electrified particles of matter will be catapulted on their mission of defensive destruction.
Dr. Tesla added he was convinced that "the battleship is doomed" and that "what happens to the armored knight will also happen to the armored vessel." The Germans, he said, are not planning to invade England, but will attack its fleet.
For this reason, he said, he was convinced that money spent on battleships would be wasted. The money planned for battleships, he said, should be "directed in channels that will improve the welfare of the country. "
New York Times
Sept. 22, 1940
Sec. 2, p. 7
"DEATH RAY" FOR PLANES
Nikola Tesla, one of the truly great inventors who celebrated his eighty-fourth birthday on July 10, tells the writer that he stands ready to divulge to the United States Government the secret of his "teleforce," with which, he said, airplane motors would be melted at a distance of 250 miles, so that an invisible Chinese Wall of Defense would be built around the country against any attempted attack by an enemy air force, no matter how large.
This "teleforce," he said is based on an entirely new principle of physics that "no one has ever dreamed about, " different from the principle embodied in his inventions relating to the transmission of electrical power from a distance, for which he has received a number of basic patents. This new type of force, Mr. Tesla said, would operate through a beam one one-hundred-millionth of a square centimeter in diameter, and could be generated from a special plant that would cost no more than $2,000,000 and would take only about three months to construct.
A dozen such plants, located at strategic points along the coast, according to Mr. Tesla, would be enough to defend the country against all possible aerial attack. The beam would melt any engine, whether Diesel or gasoline driven, and would also ignite the explosives aboard any bomber. No possible defense against it could be devised, he asserts, as the beam would be all-penetrating.
High Vacuum Eliminated
The beam, he states, involves four new inventions, two of which already have been tested. One of these is a method and apparatus for producing rays "and other manifestations of energy" in free air, eliminating the necessity for a nigh vacuum; a second is a method and process for producing "very great electrical force"; the third is a method for amplifying this force, and the fourth is a new method for producing "a tremendous electrical repelling force." This would be the projector or gun, of the system. The voltage for propelling the beam to its objective, according to the inventor, will attain a potential of 50,000,000 volts.
With this enormous voltage, he said, microscopic electrical particles of matter will be catapulted on their mission of defensive destruction. He has been working on this invention, he added, for many years and has recently made a number of improvements in it.
Mr. Tesla makes one important stipulation. Should the government decide to take up his offer he would go to work at once, but they would have to trust him. He would suffer "no interference from experts ."
In ordinary times such a condition would very likely interpose an insuperable obstacle. But times being what they are, and with the nation getting ready to spend billions for national defense, at the same time taking in consideration the reputation of Mr. Tesla as an inventor who always was many years ahead of his time, the question arises whether it may not be advisable to take Mr. Tesla at his word and commission him to go ahead with the construction of his teleforce plant.
Such a Device "Invaluable"
After all, $2,000,000 would be relatively a very small sum compared with what is at stake. If Mr. Tesla really fulfills his promise the result achieved would be truly staggering. Not only would it save billions now planned for air defense, by making the country impregnable against any air attack, but it would also save many more billions in property that would otherwise be surely destroyed no matter how strong the defenses are as witness current events in England.
Take, for example, the Panama Canal. No matter how strong the defenses, a suicide squadron of dive bombers, according to some experts, might succeed in getting through and cause such damage that would make the Canal unusable, in which case our Navy might find itself bottled up.
Considering the probabilities in the case even if the chances were 100,000 to 1 against Mr. Tesla the odds would still be largely in favor of taking a chance on spending $2,000,000. In the opinion of the writer, who has known Mr. Tesla for many years and can testify that he still remains full intellectual vigor, the authorities in charge of building the national defense should at once look into the matter. The sum is insignificant compared with the magnitude of the stake.
October 20, 1940
PROPOSING THE 'DEATH RAY' FOR DEFENSE
"The beam would melt enemy airplane motors before they approached our coasts and blow up hostile bombers."
The man was old, but the fervor in his eyes was ageless. Deep-set, they looked out beneath the bushes of his brows.
"If only they will let me tryout my new teleforce:" exclaimed Nikola Tesla, who has been called one of the greatest electrical inventors since Benjamin Franklin flew his kite. "If only they will let me show how this Nation can be made invulnerable to air attack:"
Thus, just the other day, spoke the man who years ago helped to harness Niagara Falls, through his discovery of the principle of the rotary magnetic field. The man who is known as the father of modern methods of generating arid distributing electrical energy. Who in 1904 predicted that the human voice one day would girdle the globe, and whose famed Tesla coil helped to make that prediction of radio come true.
Today, at 83, Nikola Tesla lives in a New York hotel and dreams of making America one vast, impregnable fortress. He says that he can do this.
Tesla is used to skeptics who, he says, laughed at him back in the old days when he worked at Orange, New Jersey, with Thomas A. Edison. Tesla helped Edison design motors and generators. Then of course there was a great deal of laughing in 1904 over Tesla's idea that the human voice would one day wing around the world.
Today, trembling with excitement, this slim old man tells how his newest invention (he holds 700 patents) can melt airplane motors at a distance of 250 miles away from the American coastline, so that invading aviators would drop into the sea.
"My new teleforce," he declares, "is based on an entirely new principle of physics that nobody ever has dreamed of. It is different from the principle embodied in my inventions relating to the transmission of electrical power from a distance, for which I hold a number of basic patents."
For years Tesla worked on the problem of transmitting electrical power from a distance, without bringing this dream out of the laboratory into the workaday world. But he was not alone in his belief that it eventually will be done. The great Marconi, shortly before his death, predicted that the day would come when power would be directed through the air with little loss. And like Tesla, Marconi was reported to have been working on a war-ray. His, it was said, would when perfected be able to stop airplane and other motors many miles before invading forces could reach their goals.
For U. S. Alone
Marconi said little about his mysterious ray, nor will Tesla discuss the details of his. It is his secret and he will not reveal it, he says, except to the United States Government, for he is afraid that it might be stolen by enemies of America, within and without. But of what it will do, he speaks freely.
"This new type of force," he said the other day, "would operate through a beam one one-hundred-millionth of a centimeter in diameter. It could be generated from a special plant that would cost no more than two million dollars and would take only about three months to construct.
"A dozen such plants, located at strategic points along the coast, would be enough to defend this country against all possible aerial attack. This beam would melt any engine, whether Diesel or gasoline-driven." (Marconi's partly-perfected beam was said to be ineffective against Diesel engines). "It would also ignite any explosives aboard any bomber. No possible defense against it could be devised, as the beam would be all-penetrating."
Four recent inventions, Tesla says, are used in the generation of the ray. Two of them already have been tested, it is said. One of these is an apparatus for producing rays "and other manifestations of energy" in free air, instead of in a vacuum.
The second is a process for producing "a very great electrical force." Next is a method for amplifying this force and finally there is a new method for producing "a tremendous electrical repelling force." This, Tesla declares, would be the projector, or gun, of the teleforce system. It would operate on a potential of 50,000,000 volts.
Dramatically, Tesla describes how this titanic voltage would hurl into space billions of microscopic electrical particles of matter that would bring down invading airplanes as insects are dropped by a spray gun.
All this, Tesla says, he is offering to the United States, the land which welcomed him as an immigrant boy from Austria-Hungary in 1884. But there must be no "red tape,'1 if he is to go to work setting up the first power plant. There must be no "interference from experts."
Offers like this have been made before, and tests have proved many so-called "death rays" useless. But some authorities, remembering the great achievements of Nikola Tesla, believe his claims should be investigated. Why, they ask, should such a ray be considered impossible in a world where radio is a commonplace? They recall the case of Henry Fleur, who was prosecuted in San Francisco by disgruntled investors who claimed he had bamboozled them with a death-ray machine intended to kill insects.
In the courtroom, Fleur turned his machine on a couple of termites. They died in seconds. A lizard and a snake also were killed by the ray, though it look longer. Fleur was released. He said that he never would experiment with his apparatus to make it a man-killer.
Then there is Dr. Antonio Longoria, who says that he destroyed a death ray machine which he invented in 1933, because it was too dangerous. Of this machine, Albert Burns, president of the Inventors' Congress in 1934, said that he had seen it kill pigeons, rabbits, dogs and cats at considerable distances. Now Dr. Longoria said that he is willing to re-assemble his apparatus in the event that the United States is subjected to an unwarranted attack. He claims that it worked by changing the red corpuscles of its victims' blood to white. And he says that it might be adapted to stall the motors of airplane engines in flight.
If such things are possible, some authorities ask: why not give Nikola Tesla the chance he asks to tryout his defensive death ray? True, he has been called the greatest dreamer among the inventors who created the present electrical era. But many of his dreams came true. Perhaps, they say, this one might come true, too—and build a wall mightier than any in the world around America's borders.