Category: radio

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Proof Nikola Tesla Is the True Father of Radio, Not Marconi

“Rereading the Supreme Court: Tesla’s Invention of Radio.”

Editors’ note: This essay responds to “Misreading the Supreme Court: A Puzzling Chapter in the History of Radio” by A. David Wunsch in the November 1998 issue of Antenna.

By Wallace Edward Brand. Antenna, Vol. 11, No. 2, May 1999.

As regular readers of this newsletter know, on June 21, 1943, the Supreme Court affirmed a 1935 ruling of the United States Court of Claims which essentially invalidated Marconi’s claim of having invented radio, and clarified Tesla’s role in inventing radio.

The granting of a patent in itself does not help to establish priority of invention. Unlike an infringement action, in a patent grant application no one but the examiner goes out of his way to dig up facts that provide a basis for the rejection of the patent. The patent examiner tries to do this, but is limited to papers on file in the patent office or available to him without great effort or expense. The applicant’s attorney is supposed to bring to the examiner’s attention all the adverse information he runs across, but he doesn’t waste his client’s money trying to find data which will help the examiner find grounds to deny the patent.

The radio litigation discussed here arose in the Court of Claims, in a claim for taking intellectual property that was basically the same as an infringement action. Marconi filed a claim against the U. S. government for taking four patents. The patents were: reissue no. 11,913 of patent no. 586,193, granted to Marconi on June 4, 1901, for a two-circuit system for transmitting and receiving signals (one circuit in the transmitter; another in the receiver); patent no. 763,772, granted to Marconi on June 28, 1904, for a four-circuit system of wireless telegraphy; and two patents granted to Oliver Lodge and John Fleming, but assigned to Marconi. The total claim was for $6,000,000, a lot of money in 1916, and justified full development of the facts by the parties to the litigation. It was worthwhile to the government to spend the money to determine whether there was prior art that would invalidate Marconi’s patent.

I will first summarize the rulings of the Court of Claims and the Supreme Court, which took the case on petition, then provide more detail on their decisions. I focus on the decision of the Court of Claims, because unless the upper court says it is reversing or vacating the decision below, or affirming it on other grounds, the opinion of the upper court should be read as additional to the opinion of the trial court, not in lieu of it. In fact, more attention should be paid to the affirmed lower court’s opinion, because the trial court is closer to the facts. Its decision recites a view that has been accepted by two courts, not just one.

The Court of Claims decided that the government did not infringe Marconi’s two-circuit patent. That patent was not an issue before the Supreme Court, which had no jurisdiction to rule on the patent, because the Constitution limits the Supreme Court to ruling on cases in controversy. Furthermore, even if the two-circuit system were found to be a viable system of radio communication, the four-circuit system made it obsolete. The focus of the Court of Claims litigation thus was on the four-circuit patent.

Fifteen of the twenty claims made in the four-circuit patent application were the subject of the litigation. The Court of Claims found for Marconi only one, claim 16, which the Supreme Court sent back for reconsideration. It never was reconsidered; Marconi settled all claims for about $34,000 plus interest.

As for the validity of Marconi’s four-circuit patent, no. 763,772, the Court of Claims noted the great difficulty Marconi had in obtaining the patent. Marconi repeatedly filed new specifications and claims, but these were rejected because of prior art. After J. P. Morgan became one of Marconi’s backers, Marconi presented another petition for revival on February 19, 1904. The Commissioner of Patents granted it. A new examiner acted on the case and allowed all claims formerly rejected for reasons stated in a brief letter.

The Court of Claims, however, disagreed with the new patent examiner. The initial examiner had disallowed Marconi’s patent based on, among several others, two patents of Tesla that preceded Marconi’s, numbers 645,576 and 649,621, in which he used four tuned circuits. Although Tesla had not specified how to tune the circuits, one of the patent examiners stated that it was fair to assume Tesla intended to use either of the two available methods. Furthermore, Tesla’s earlier patent no. 645,576 of March 20, 1900, referred to tuning no less than six times.

[Perfected system of wireless transmission with four tuned circuits. Described in U.S. Patent Nos. 645,576 of March 20, 1900 and 649,621 of May 15, 1900. Applications filed September 2, 1897.]

In the opinion of the Court of Claims, Tesla had shown the advantage of all four circuits being tuned. Oliver Lodge had taken the two-circuit system and tuned the open circuits in the same way used later by Marconi. Stone described a four-circuit system with the closed circuits tuned together. “A consideration of these three systems,” the Court decided, “would naturally suggest to one skilled in the art the tuning of all four circuits together by the use of the adjustable self-inductance method in the manner proposed by Lodge, and Stone put this suggestion into practice when he filed the amendment to his specifications. Marconi used the suggestion earlier in the application for his patent, but under the circumstances we think neither Stone nor Marconi was entitled to credit for it.” That is because Stone had acknowledged Tesla’s priority.

In summary, I read the Court of Claims’ opinion as deciding that the four-circuit system was invented by Tesla, based specifically on the above statement of the Court of Claims. Also persuasive is the reading of the Court of Claims opinion in the same way by Marconi’s attorney. Specifically, in his brief to the Supreme Court in 1943, he stated: “It is not quite clear whether the Court [of Claims] thought that the Tesla patents alone fully anticipated the Marconi claims, or whether a combination of Tesla, Lodge and Stone made the Marconi claims invalid.” Does the Supreme Court’s considerable reliance on the work of Stone in their opinion detract from Tesla’s deserved priority of invention? I think not for at least four reasons.

[Diagrams illustrating the system of four-tuned circuits as applied to wireless transmission. Described in U.S. Patent No. 568,178 of September 22, 1896. Application filed June 20, 1896. This is the first four- circuit system patent which was stolen by Marconi other radio engieers.]

First, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Claims rejection of Marconi’s claims under the four-circuit patent (all except the lower court’s ruling in favor of Marconi on claim 16, which the Supreme Court vacated). Second, it is reasonable to expect the Supreme Court to emphasize the work of Stone to buttress the Court of Claims opinion. Marconi’s lawyer attacked the Tesla patent before the Supreme Court as being science fiction worthy of Jules Verne. It therefore was reasonable for the Supreme Court to respond to the argument by showing that Stone, a distinguished scientist, had priority over Marconi (based on Stone’s letters to Butler), but not Tesla. Third, as the Supreme Court mentioned, Stone, in a letter to his friend Butler, acknowledged that his four-circuit apparatus basically was the same as Tesla’s.

Fourth, the Court of Claims said it was unnecessary to find that Stone had priority because of Tesla’s priority. All that is left is the significance of the Court of Claims’ marginal award of invention to Marconi for the two-circuit system. The government’s lawyer claimed that Marconi’s two-circuit system essentially was the same as that used by Hertz to verify the theories of James Clerk Maxwell. Furthermore, Marconi’s own lawyer said that the two-circuit system “would operate, but only at short distances, because there was too much waste of energy.” Even Justice Frankfurter, who dissented bitterly in favor of Marconi, acknowledged that the two-circuit patent was not a significant factor in the innovation of radio.

[Diagram showing Marconi’s reissue Patent No. 11,913 of June 4, 1901. Application filed April 1, 1901. There is a conductor connected to the antenna and the ground with a break in it. The break means resistance and diminution of resonant rise meaning it wastes energy. Marconi’s system was inferior to Tesla’s which had no break and wasted no energy.]

Finally, there are the two portions of the Supreme Court Opinion sometimes cited as preserving Marconi’s priority of invention. The first is the sentence in the majority opinion that declares: “Marconi’s reputation as the man who first achieved successful radio transmission rests on his original patent, which became reissue no. 11, 9013, and which is not here in question.” The pronoun “which” has an ambiguous antecedent. Is it Marconi’s reputation or the validity of the patent that is “not here in question”? I interpret it as referring to Marconi’s reputation, as neither party sought review of the Court of Claims decision on the reissue patent. Even if it did refer to the patent, the statement would be significant only if Marconi’s combination of elements invented by others played an important role in the progress of radio. It did not, because the two-circuit system could transmit only a few miles. The second citation is to Justice Frankfurter’s dissenting opinion. It is clear that he found it difficult to understand the facts, because he failed to cite a single one in support of his view that those prior to Marconi lacked “the flash-that begot the idea in Marconi.” Perhaps it was for that reason that he failed to persuade the majority.

Marconi deserves great credit for his vigorous commercialization of wireless telegraphy and radio. He recognized the business advantages of a claim to invention of the products and services he marketed as a check on his competition. In those days, most monopolies were formed by merging or buying up the competition, or by driving smaller competitors out of business through costly patent litigation where possible. In sum, though, the evidence available from historical documents simply does not support Marconi’s claim of invention; it does clarify Tesla’s role in inventing radio.

Wallace Edward Brand worked as a federal government lawyer in several jobs, principally as a trial lawyer, including as lead government counsel in the seminal cases under the 1970 revision of the Atomic Energy Act which served to promote competition among electric utilities. From 1974 to 1999 he has been engaged in the private practice of energy law, principally cases involving electric power, representing small municipal and cooperative electric utilities in actions against larger ones. He is currently writing a book about the electric power business.

Regular

Wikipedia says the arc converter, sometimes called the arc transmitter, was invented in 1903 by Danish engineer Valdemar Poulsen.

It is a fact that Nikola Tesla invented the arc converter and demonstrated it in a lecture given before the Franklin Institute and National Light Association in 1893.

Regular

Tesla Coil:

*Method of transformation of electrical energy by oscillatory condenser discharge. It was predicted that this apparatus afforded vast possibilities and would play an important part in the future.*

“This type of apparatus is identified with my name as certain as the law of gravitation is with that of Newton. I know that some have claimed that Professor Thomson also invented the so-called Tesla coil, but those feeble chirps ne’er went beyond Swampscott. Professor Thomson is an odd sort of man; very ingenious, but he never was a wireless expert; he never could be. Moreover, it is important to realize that this principle is universally employed everywhere. The greatest men of science have told me that this was my best achievement and, in connection with this apparatus I may say that a lot of liberties have been taken. For instance, a man fills this space [break D] with hydrogen; he employs all my instrumentalities, everything that is necessary, but calls it a new wireless system – the Poulsen arc. I cannot stop it. Another man puts in here [referring to space between self-inductive lines L L] a kind of gap – he gets a Nobel prize for doing it. My name is not mentioned. Still another man inserts here [conductor B] a mercury[-arc] rectifier. That is my friend Cooper Hewitt. But, as a matter of fact, those devices have nothing to do with the performance.

“If these men knew what I do, they would not touch my arrangements; they would leave my apparatus as it is. Marconi puts in here [break D] two wheels. I showed only one wheel; he shows two. And he says, “See what happens when the wheels are rotated; a wonderful thing happens!” What is the wonderful thing? Why, when the teeth of the wheels pass one another, the currents are broken and interrupted. That is the wonderful thing that happens? The Lord himself could not make anything else happen unless he broke his own laws. So, in this way, invention has been degraded, debased, prostituted, more in connection with my apparatus than in anything else. Not a vestige of invention as a creative effort is in the thousands of arrangements that you see under the name of other people – not a vestige of invention. It is exactly like in car couplings on which 6,000 patents have been taken out; but all the couplings are constructed and operated exactly the same way. The inventive effort involved is about the same as that of which a 30-year-old mule is capable. This is a fact.

“This is one of the most beautiful things ever produced in the way of apparatus: I take a generator of any kind. With the generator I charge a condensing. Then I discharged to condenser under conditions which result in the production of vibrations. Now, it was no sense Lord Kelvin that the condenser this charge would give this vibration, but I perfected my apparatus to such a degree that it became an instrument utilizable in the arts, In a much broader way than Lord Kelvin had contemplated as possible. In fact, years afterwards when Lord Kelvin honored me by presenting to the British Association one of my oscillators of a perfected form, he said that it was "a wonderful development and destined to be of great importance.”

–Nikola Tesla

(Tesla explaining his wireless art in a pre-hearing interview with his legal counsel in 1916 to protect his radio patents from the Guglielmo Marconi and the Marconi Company.)

“Nikola Tesla On His Works With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, and Transmission of Power.” Twenty First Century Books, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2002.

Regular

Fact: Nikola Tesla invented the first antennas as far back as 1891 in experiments with high frequency alternators at his Grand Street Laboratory in New York.

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“TESLA SEES EVIDENCE RADIO AND LIGHT ARE SOUND.”

New York Times, April 8th, 1934.

An Inventor’s Seasoned Ideas

Nikola Tesla, Pointing to ‘Grievous Errors’ of the Past, Explains Radio as He Sees It at Age of 77 — He Expects Television

By Orrin E. Dunlap Jr.

A tall, lean inventor in a cut-away walked into his skyscraper parlor thirty-three floors above the sidewalks of New York, laid his black derby on the table, opened the window and then was ready to talk about radio’s past, present and future. He was Nikola Tesla, the inventor whose discovery of the rotary magnetic field made possible the alternating-current motor. He described a system of wireless transmission of energy in 1892.

Seven milestones beyond three-score and ten, this electrical wizard, who came to America in 1884, looked back across the years, recalled where theorists often chose wrong paths at the crossroads of science and then turned his thoughts to the future in which television lurks.

A Spectacle That Frightens.

There is something frightening about the universe when we consider that only our senses of sound and sight make it beautiful,” said Mr. Tesla as his furrowed brow indicated he is puzzled with its destiny. “Just think, the universe is darker than the darkest ink; colder than the coldest ice and more silent than a silent tomb, with all the bodies rushing through it at terrific speeds. What an awe-inspiring picture, isn’t it? Yet it is our brain that gives merely a physical impression. Sight and sound are the only avenues through which we can perceive it all. Often I have wondered if there is a third sense which we have failed to discover. I’m afraid not,” he said after some hesitation in thought.

Looking back to the mauve decade, to the turn of the century when the world was being thrilled with new ideas and discoveries, Mr. Tesla observes a vast change in the art of invention. Man, he finds, in this streamline era of speed, has little chance to think.

Fruits of Seclusion.

The big, modern research laboratories are but the incubators of ideas as he has watched them function. Seldom, if ever, he explains, has an original idea of any consequence been born in an elaborate laboratory. The egg of science is laid in the nest of solitude. True, it may later be incubated, hatched and nursed in the million-dollar laboratory.

It is providential that the youth or man of inventive mind is not ‘blessed’ with a million dollars,” said Mr. Tesla. “He would find it difficult to think. The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born. That is why many of the earthly miracles have had their genesis in humble surroundings.”

Radio experimenters of this age are following ancient theories, Mr. Tesla believes, and he warns that progress will be more rapid when they discard the old and adopt new ideas. His directions for getting on the right track of radio, television, power transmission by wireless and sundry other branches of science follow:

“The fascination of the electro-magnetic theory of light, advanced by Maxwell and subsequently experimentally investigated by Hertz, was so great that even now, although controverted, the scientific minds are under its sway. This theory supposed the existence of a medium which was solid, yet permitted bodies to pass through it without resistance; tenuous beyond conception, and yet, according to some, one thousand times denser than platinum. According to our conceptions of mechanical principles and ages of experience, such a medium was absolutely impossible. Nevertheless, light was considered essentially a phenomenon bound up in that kind of a medium; namely, one capable of transmitting transverse vibrations lite a solid.”

A Question Tesla Asked.

It is true,” said Mr. Tesla, “that many scientific minds envisaged the theory of a gaseous ether, but it was rejected again and again because in such a medium longitudinal waves would be propagated with infinite velocity. Lord Kelvin conceived the so-called contractile ether, possessing properties which would result in a finite velocity of longitudinal waves. In 1885, however, an academic dissertation was published by Professor De Volson Wood, an American, at a Hoboken institution, which dealt with a gaseous ether in which the elasticity, density and specific heat were determined with rare academic elegance. But, so far, everything pertaining to the subject was purely theoretical.

“What, then, can light be if it is not a transverse vibration?” That was the question he asked himself and set out to find the answer.

I consider this extremely important,” said Mr. Tesla. “Light cannot be anything else but a longitudinal disturbance in the ether, involving alternate compressions and rarefactions. In other words, light can be nothing else than a sound wave in the ether.

“This appears clearly,” Mr. Tesla explained, “if it is first realized that, there being no Maxwellian ether, there can be no transverse oscillation in the medium. The Newtonian theory, he believes, is in error, because it falls entirely in not being able to explain how a small candle can project particles with the same speed as the blazing sun, which has an immensely higher temperature.”

We have made sure by experiment,” said Mr. Tesla, “that light propagates with the same velocity irrespective of the character of the source. Such constancy of velocity can only be explained by assuming that it is dependent solely on the physical properties of the medium, especially density and elastic force.“

Micro-Wave Possibilities.

Coming now to the wireless waves, it is still true that they are of the same character as light waves, only they are not transversal but longitudinal. As a matter of fact, radio transmitters emit nothing else but sound waves in the ether, and if the experts will realize this they will find it very much easier to explain the curious observations made in the application of these waves.

It being a fact that radio waves are essentially like sound waves in the air, it is evident that the shorter the waves the more penetrative they would be. In 1899 I produced electromagnetic waves from one to two millimeters long and observed their actions at a distance. There has been a great hope expressed by various workers that introduction of these waves will have a revolutionary effect, but I am not sharing the opinion. They will be used, of course, but to a very limited extent. It is manifest that applications of the very short waves will not produce any appreciable effect upon the wireless art.”

“Errors” Retard Wireless Power.

What about the possibilities of power transmission by wireless? the inquirer said.

Here again Mr. Tesla blames “a strange misconception of the experts” and “grievous errors” for retarding the idea. He believes that when it is accomplished, the power will travel on long waves and not on the wings of “uneconomically produced” short waves. He said he could vouch that the scheme of wireless power transmission is entirely practical.

The application of short waves for power purposes,” said Mr. Tesla, “involves complicated and expensive apparatus for rectification or frequency transformation, which would make any serious attempt to carry out a project of this kind much more difficult from an economical point of view.“

When will television come around the corner? he was asked.

It ought to be with us soon, and some day it will be on a par of perfection with broadcasting of music.” Then with a circular sweep of his arm and added, “There will be large pictures thrown on the wall.”

Regular

Nikola Tesla is the father of radio.

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“TESLA ON MARCONI’S FEAT.”

New York World, April 13th, 1930.

“To the Editor of The World,

“The World editorial March 28 must have instilled a holy fear in the minds of some of your readers. Of course Marconi could not help astounding people, but surely it was wrong of him at this critical time to scare the United States Navy by the statement that he could halt the progress of electrically driven dreadnoughts, which would mean certain doom in an engagement with the enemy. The thought that my beautiful induction motors used in their propulsion might be consigned to Davy Jones’s locker in this easy manner caused me some anxiety until I satisfied myself by a little calculation that the maximum power transmitted — expressed in units more appropriate than the conventional — did not exceed one millionth of a “mousepower.”

“Except to the layman there was nothing remarkable in the performance, considering that sea water has only one five-hundredths of the resistance of solid ground and that there were no towering objects in the vicinity thus reducing very much the size of the plant. Marconi accomplished nothing more than was known before. The infinitesimal currents received were amplified, relayed repeatedly and made to actuate local means, as usual. This can be brought about in more than one way; but as a rule, a form of amplifying three-electrode tube is employed which I described in my experimental lecture before the Franklin Institute and National Electric Light Association early in 1893. The modern tubes embodying the same principle are marvels of workmanship, but less sensitive, because they lend themselves only to relatively small voltages. If suitable means were provided, any wireless amateur could magnify as feeble a disturbance as the patter of the feet of a fly sufficiently to precipitate a veritable earthquake at the antipodes. The shrewd Italian did not give a description of his apparatus, but from his previous records one may safely infer that it is old and well known. It is gratifying, however, that he has abandoned the ridiculous arrangement of a “beam system,” which he claimed to offer “limitless possibilities.”

"Your reference to his first announcement thirty years ago has stirred up in my memory unpleasant recollections. To the public the transmission of a weak wireless signal across the Atlantic appeared almost like a miracle, but, even if a fact, it was a paltry engineering achievement, for I had already shown by experiment over a year before that the earth may be excited like a wire of small dimensions and that the current impulse from a powerful transmitter could travel through it as much as a million miles before its energy was exhausted. But this is immaterial. I only wish to call the attention of your readers to the circumstances.

"Some time after the experiments with the classical Hertz devices conducted under the auspices of the Imperial Post Office in England, Sir William Preece, then head of the department, wrote me a letter conveying the information that the test had been abandoned as of no value, but that he believed good results possible by my system. In reply I offered to prepare two sets for trial and asked him to give me the technical particulars necessary to the design. Just then Marconi came out with the emphatic assertion that he had tried out my apparatus and that it did not work. Evidently he succeeded in his purpose, for nothing was done in regard to my proposal.

"He furthermore declared at a later date that wireless communication across the Atlantic was impossible because there was a wall of water several miles high between the two continents which rays could not traverse. But subsequent developments showed that he had used my system in secret all the time, received the plaudits of the world and accepted stolidly even my own congratulations, and it was only a long time after that he admitted it.”

–Nikola Tesla

New York, April 11.

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Let us advance by all means. But I cannot help thinking how much better it would have been if the ingenious men, who have originated these “systems,” had invented something of their own instead of depending on me altogether.”

–Nikola Tesla

“The True Wireless.” Electrical Experimenter, May 1919.

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“NIKOLA TESLA TELLS OF NEW RADIO THEORIES.”

An interview with Nikola Tesla

New York Herald Tribune, September 22, 1929.

Does Not Believe in Hertz Waves and Heaviside Layer, Interview Discloses

The model of a “Tesla Coil” which will be featured in the historic exhibit of the radio show reawakens interest in its inventor.

It is not generally appreciated that this curious apparatus, often associated with pretty or spectacular demonstrations of high voltage electricity, is really a fundamental part of modern radio. For all the tuning apparatus and circuits in every transmitting and receiving set are simply variations of Tesla coils and Tesla coil circuits.

It was for this invention, and other inventions and principles concerned with tuning, heterodyning, and the generation of continuous waves, which were made at least several years before the very first experiments of Marconi, that many of our most reputable engineers have conceded to Nikola Tesla the title of “Father of Radio”.

Mr. Tesla, still actively working, was interviewed last week to get his ideas regarding the prospects of the radio of 1930, and beyond. As a prophet, however, he balked. He had repeated time and again his visions for the future. As far back as 1900, he had contemplated a world-wireless system which included broadcasting, picture transmission, international time service, and in addition television and the distribution of electrical power. Part of this early prophecy has been realized – what remained, still stood as his prediction.

Disputes Hertz Waves

What, then, about power transmission by radio? Laurence M. Cockaday, the technical editor of this radio section, had expressed the opinion several weeks ago that, with present apparatus at least, it was hardly feasible. Mr. Tesla agreed to discuss the point at length.  As a result, he made public for the first time one of the most extraordinary conclusions – that Hertz waves do not exist! If his theory is true, there may be found in it more adequate explanations of “dead spots”, fading, reflection and a dozen other problems that have always puzzled the profession.

The inventor began by referring to Cockaday’s article:

“I have read the article, and I quite agree with the opinion expressed – that wireless power transmission is impractical with present apparatus. This conclusion will be naturally reached by any one who recognizes the nature of the agent by which the impulses are transmitted in present wireless practice.

“When Dr. Heinrich Hertz undertook his experiments from 1887 to 1889 his object was to demonstrate a theory postulating a medium filling all space, called the ether, which was structureless, of inconceivable tenuity and yet solid and possessed of rigidity incomparably greater than that of the hardest steel. He obtained certain results and the whole world acclaimed them as an experimental verification of that cherished theory. But in reality what he observed tended to prove just its fallacy.

"I had maintained for many years before that such a medium as supposed could not exist, and that we must rather accept the view that all space is filled with a gaseous substance. On repeating the Hertz experiments with much improved and very powerful apparatus, I satisfied myself that what he had observed was nothing else but effects of longitudinal waves in a gaseous medium, that is to say, waves, propagated by alternate compression and expansion. He had observed waves in the ether much of the nature of sound waves in the air.

"Up to 1896, however, I did not succeed in obtaining a positive experimental proof of the existence of such a medium. But in that year I brought out a new form of vacuum tube capable of being charged to any desired potential, and operated it with effective pressures of about 4,000,000 volts. I produced cathodic and other rays of transcending intensity. The effects, according to my view, were due to minute particles of matter carrying enormous electrical charges, which, for want of a better name, I designated as matter not further decomposable. Subsequently those particles were called electrons.

"One of the first striking observations made with my tubes was that a purplish glow for several feet around the end of the tube was formed, and I readily ascertained that it was due to the escape of the charges of the particles as soon as they passed out into the air; for it was only in a nearly perfect vacuum that these charges could be confined to them. The coronal discharge proved that there must be a medium besides air in the space, composed of particles immeasurably smaller than those of air, as otherwise such a discharge would not be possible. On further investigation I found that this gas was so light that a volume equal to that of the earth would weigh only about one-twentieth of a pound.

"The velocity of any sound wave depends on a certain ratio between elasticity and density, and for this ether or universal gas the ratio is 800,000,000,000 times greater than for air. This means that the velocity of the sound waves propagated through the ether is about 300,000 times greater than that of the sound waves in air, which travel at approximately 1,085 feet a second. Consequently the speed in ether is 900,000 x 1,085 feet, or 186,000 miles, and that is the speed of light.

"As the waves of this kind are all the more penetrative the shorter they are, I have for years urged the wireless experts to use such waves in order to get good results, but it took a long time before they settled upon this practice.

"Although the world is still skeptical as to the feasibility of my undertaking, I note that some advanced experts, at least, share my views, and I hope that before long wireless power transmission will be as common as transmission by wires.”

According to Mr. Tesla, the present broadcasting station does not propagate Hertzian waves, as has always been supposed, but acts more like an “ether whistle” – transmitting waves through the ether similar to the waves transmitted by an ordinary whistle through the air. He also expressed his disbelief in the Heaviside layer, and claimed that the reflection of waves back toward the earth was due to the change of medium encountered at the vacuous boundary of the atmosphere.

At Colorado Springs, about thirty years ago, this scientist had a Tesla coil seventy-five feet in diameter which produced voltages above 12,000,000, and sparks over 100 feet long. Electrical flashes were created which were the nearest approach to lightning that man has ever made. During his experiments there, of over a year, Tesla claims that he transmitted a considerable amount of electrical current to the other side of the earth. It was upon these, and later experiments that he bases his present prediction.

“They laughed at me in 1897 when I told them about the cosmic ray. Fifty years ago they attempted to…

“They laughed at me in 1897 when I told them about the cosmic ray. Fifty years ago they attempted to discredit my discovery of the rotating magnetic field and my system of power transmission by alternating currents. They called me crazy when I predicted the radio and when I sent the first impulse around the world they said it couldn’t be done.”

–Nikola Tesla

In the Realm of Science: Tesla, Who Predicted Radio, Now Looks Forward to Sending Waves to the Moon.” New York Herald Tribune, August 22, 1937.