Tesla said his transmitter could produce 100 million volts of pressure
and currents up to 1000 amperes, with experimental power levels
of billion or tens of billions of watts.(18) If that amount of power were released
in "an incomparably small interval of time,"(19)
the energy would be equal to the explosion of millions of tons
of TNT, that is, a multi-megaton explosion. Such a transmitter
would be capable of projecting the force of a nuclear warhead
by radio. Any location in the world could be vaporized at the
speed of light.
Not unexpectedly, many scientists doubted the technical feasibility of
Tesla's wireless power transmission scheme whether for commercial
or military purposes. Modern authorities in electronics, even
those who express admiration for the Tesla's genius, believe he
was mistaken in the interpretation of his experiments when it
came to electrical transmission through the earth.(20),(21),(22)
On the other hand, statements from authoritative witnesses who saw Tesla's
equipment in operation support his claim about transmission with
something other than the radio waves known today. During the Chicago
World's Fair of 1893, the Westinghouse exhibit set up by Tesla
was visited by the Herman von Helmholtz, the first director of
the Physico-Technical Institute of Berlin and one of the leading
scientists of his time. When Tesla "asked the celebrated
physicist for an expression of opinion on the feasibility of the
[transmission] scheme. He stated unhesitatingly that it was practicable."(23) In 1897, Lord Kelvin visited New York and stopped
at the Tesla laboratory where Tesla "entertained him with
demonstrations in support of my wireless theory."
[Kelvin] remarked with evident astonishment: 'Then you are not
making use of Hertz waves?' 'Certainly not', I replied, 'these
... I can never forget the magic change
that came over the illustrious philosopher the moment he freed
himself from that erroneous impression. The skeptic who would
not believe was suddenly transformed into the warmest of supporters.
He parted from me not only thoroly convinced of the scientific
soundness of the idea but strongly exprest his confidence in its
A recent analysis
of Tesla's wireless transmission method shows that he used an
electrostatic transmission technique that did not radiate radio
waves as we know them and could sent waves through the earth with
little loss of power.(25) The
question remains of whether Tesla demonstrated the weapons application
of his power transmission
system. Circumstantial evidence found
in the chronology of Tesla's work and financial fortunes between
1900 and 1908 points to there having been a test of this weapon.
1900: Tesla returned to New York from
Colorado Springs after completing the tests of wireless power
transmission that destroyed the power company's generator. He
received $150,000 from J.P. Morgan to build a transmitter to signal
Europe. With the first portion of the money he obtained 200 acres
of land at Shoreham, Long Island and built an 187 foot tall tower with a steel shaft running 120 feet
into the ground. This tower was topped with a 55 ton, 68 foot
diameter metal dome. He called the research site "Wardenclyffe"
and envisioned 2000 people eventually working at his global communications
A stock offering is made by the
Marconi company. Supporters of the Marconi Company include his
old adversary Edison and one-time associate Michael Pupin. Investors
rushed to buy the Marconi shares. On December 12th, Marconi sent
the first transatlantic signal, the letter "S," from
Cornwall, England to Newfoundland, Canada. He did this with, as
the financiers noted, equipment much less costly than that being
built by Tesla.
1902: The Wardenclyffe transmitter
nears completion. Marconi is hailed as a hero around the world
while Tesla is seen as a shirker by the public for ignoring a
call to jury duty in a murder case (he was excused from duty because
of his opposition to the death penalty).
1903: When Morgan sent the balance of
the $150,000, it would not cover the outstanding balance Tesla
owed on the Wardenclyffe construction. To encourage a larger investment
in the face of Marconi's success, Tesla revealed to Morgan his
real purpose was not to just send radio signals but the wireless
transmission of power to any point on the planet. Morgan was uninterested
and declined to provide further funding.
A financial panic that Fall put
an end to Tesla's hopes for financing by Morgan or other wealthy
industrialists. This left Tesla without money even to buy the
coal to fire the transmitter's electrical generators.
1904 - 1906: Tesla writes for the Electrical World, "The
Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires," noting
that the globe, even with its great size, responds to electrical
currents like a small metal ball.
Tesla declares to the press the
completion of Wardenclyffe. Marconi is hailed as a world hero.