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Old 09-17-2019, 08:25 PM
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“How did you discover that this might be done, Mr. Tesla?” I asked.

“I have for years been working on the transmission on of electrical energy, and in 1898 established a laboratory on the edge of the Rocky mountains near Colorado Springs. My laboratory there was over six thousand feet high, higher than the top of Mount Washington, and I had extraordinary conditions for my experiments. Colorado is famous for its natural displays of electrical force. The earth at times is alive with electrical vibrations and the air is full of electricity. I have seen 12,000 lightning discharges within two hours and all within a radius of 30 miles of my laboratory. These discharges were of great violence, some of them looking like trees of fire on the heavens. It was among such discharges that I had my electrical instruments and studied the principles of electrical transmission through the earth and air. One day while watching the lightning I noticed that discharges afar often affected instruments in my laboratory more than those near by. Upon examination I found that this could not be caused by the difference of intensity in the individual discharges.

“What could it be?

“Through instruments made for the purpose I tested the matter from time to time and finally came to the conclusion that the vibrations caused by the lightning moved around the world and that there were stationary waves. I could gauge the discharges near the laboratory and see them fade away and after a certain fixed period find them returning with almost no loss of power. In short, this planet, as big as it is, was acting as a conductor, and I became convinced that upon it not only telegraphic messages, but also the modulations of the human voice and electrical power in unlimited amounts, could be carried around the entire globe and sent to any part of it with hardly any perceptible loss. With my transmitter I actually sent electrical vibrations around the world and received them again, and I then went on to develop my machinery. I had, as I have told you, been studying and inventing along the lines of electrical transmission and was ready to take advantage of my discovery. I have since so improved the means or individualization and isolation that such energy may be sent in any amount to any fixed place without danger of its going elsewhere or affecting others, and I believe the individualization can be carried out to almost any degree.”

“Will this enable the power of Niagara to be sent anywhere over the world?”

“Yes. I have been experimenting at my laboratory on Long Island. I have machinery and buildings there which have cost in the neighborhood of $350,000, and the results show me that a plant could be erected at Niagara which can transmit its force to any place desired. I am designing such a plant now at my laboratory, and would have had it completed had it not been for un foreseen delays, which have nothing to do with its technical features. The design which I have adopted will have a transmitter which will emit a wave complex of a total maximum activity of 10,000,000 horse power, 1 percent, of which is enough to girdle the globe. This enormous rate of energy delivery — it is twice as much as the force at Niagara Falls — is obtainable only by the use of certain artifices which I shall make known some time in the future.

“We have been offered 10,000 horsepower from the Canadian Power company. What I want to do is to build machinery there and transmit this power to different parts of the globe. The value of that amount of horse power would be about $200,000 per year, and a plant erected to take advantage of it will pay large dividends.”

“How much would the plant cost?”

“It might cost in the neighborhood of $2,000,000, but its value would be enormous, and its success would revolutionize the working forces of the globe. It would result in other plants being erected otherwheres and in the utilization of all the great water falls for the work of man.”

“By this invention every live part of Mother Earth's body would be brought into action. Energy will be collected all over the globe in amounts small or large, as it may exist, ranging from a fraction of one to a few horse power or more. Every water fall can be utilized, every coal field made to produce energy to be transmitted to vast distances, and every place on earth can have power at small cost. One of the minor uses might be the illumination of isolated homes. We could light houses all over the country by means of vacuum tubes operated by high frequency currents. We could keep the clocks of the United States going and give everyone exact time; we could turn factories, machine shops and mills, small or large, anywhere, and I believe could also navigate the air.

“One of the most important features of this invention,” said Mr. Tesla, “will be the transmission of intelligence. It will convert the entire earth into a huge brain, capable of responding in every one of its parts. By the employment of a number of plants, each of which can transmit signals to all parts of the world, the news of the globe will be flashed to all points. A cheap and simple receiving device, which might be carried in one's pocket, can be set up anywhere on sea or land, and it will record the world's news as it occurs, or take such special messages as are intended for it. If you are in the heart of the Sahara, your wife can telegraph to you from Washington, and if the instrument is properly made you alone will get the message. A single plant of a few horse power could operate hundreds of such instruments, so that the invention has an infinite working capacity and will cheapen the transmission of all kinds of intelligence.”

Frank G. Carpenter.

This article also appears in The Boston Sunday Globe of December 18, 1904 and includes photos and additional content.
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