Through careful isolation of each experimental component, Tesla gradually realized that he was observing a very rare electrical phenomenon. Each “bang” produced the same unexpected shock response in Tesla, while exploding small wire sections into vapor.

The instantaneous burst produced strange effects never observed with alternating currents. The painful shocking sensation appeared each time he closed or opened the switch. These sudden shock currents were IMPULSES, not alternations. What surprised him was the fact that these needle-like shocks were able to reach him from a distance: he was standing almost ten feet from the discharge site!

These electrical irritations expanded out of the wire in all directions and filled the room in a mystifying manner. He had never before observed such an effect. He thought that the hot metal vapor might be acting as a “carrier” for the electrical charges. This would explain the strong pressure wave accompanied by the sensation of electrical shock. He utilized longer wires. When the discharge wire was resistive enough, no explosion could occur.

Wire in place, the dynamo whirred at a slower speed. He threw die switch for a brief instant, and was again caught off guard by the stinging pressure wave! The effect persisted despite the absence of an explosive conductor. Here was a genuine mystery. Hot vapor was not available to “carry” high voltage charges throughout the room. No charge carriers could be cited in this instance to explain the stinging nature of the pressure wave. So what was happening here?

The pressure wave was sharp and strong, like a miniature thunderclap. It felt strangely “electrical” when the dynamo voltage was sufficiently high. In fact, it was uncomfortably penetrating when the dynamo voltage was raised beyond certain thresholds. It became clear that these pressure waves might be electrified. Electrified soundwaves. Such a phenomenon would not be unexpected when high voltages were used. Perhaps he was fortunate enough to observe the rare phenomenon for the first time.

He asked questions. How and why did the charge jump out of the line in this strange manner? Here was a phenomenon which was not described in any of the texts with which he was familiar. And he knew every written thing on electricity. Thinking that he was the victim of some subtle, and possibly deadly short circuit, he rigorously examined the circuit design. Though he searched, he could find no electrical leakages. There were simply no paths for any possible corona effects to find their way back into the switching terminal which he held.

Deciding to better insulate the arrangement in order that all possible line leakages could be eradicated, he again attempted the experiment. The knife switch rapidly closed and opened, he again felt the unpleasant shock just as painfully as before. Right through the glass shield! Now he was perplexed. Desiring total distance from the apparatus, he modified the system once more by making it “automatic”.

He could freely walk around the room during the test He could! hold the shield or simply walk without it. A small rotary spark switch was arranged in place of the hand-held knife switch. The rotary switch was arranged to interrupt the dynamo current in slow, successive intervals. The system was actuated, the motor switch cranked it contacts slowly. Snap …snap …snap …each contact produced the very same room-filling irritation.

This time it was most intense. Tesla could not get away from the shocks, regardless of his distance from the apparatus across his considerably large gallery hall. He scarcely could get near enough to deactivate the rotating switch. From what he was able to painfully observe, thin sparks of a bright blue-white color stood straight out of the line with each electrical contact. The shock effects were felt far beyond the visible spark terminations. This seemed to indicate that their potential was far greater than the voltage applied to the line. A paradox! The dynamo charge was supplied at a tension of fifteen thousand volts, yet the stinging sparks were characteristics of electrostatic discharges exceeding some two hundred fifty thousand volts. Somehow this input current was being transformed into a much higher voltage by an unknown process. No natural explanation could be found. No scientific explanation sufficed. There was simply not enough data on the phenomenon for an answer. And Tesla knew that this was no ordinary phenomenon. Somewhere in the heart of this activity was a deep natural secret. Secrets of this kind always opened humanity into new revolutions.

Tesla considered this strange voltage multiplying effect from several viewpoints. The problem centered around the fact that there was no magnetic induction taking place. Transformers raise or lower voltage when current is changing. Here were impulses. Change was happening during the impulse. But there was no transformer in the circuit. No wires were close enough for magnetic inductions to take place. Without magnetic induction, there could theoretically be -no transformation effect. No conversion from low to high voltage at all. Yet, each switch snap brought both the radiating blue-white sparks and their painful sting.


Tesla noted that the strange sparks were more like electrostatic discharges. If the sparks had been direct current arcs reaching from the test line, he would surely have been killed with the very first close of the switch. The physical pressure and stinging pain of these sparks across such distances could not be explained. This phenomenon had never been reported by those who should have seen and felt its activities.

Tesla gradually came to the conclusion that the shock effect was something new, something never before observed. He further concluded that the effect was never seen before because no one had ever constructed such a powerful impulse generator. No one had ever reported the phenomenon because no one had ever generated the phenomenon.

Tesla once envisioned a vortex of pure energy while looking into a sunset The result of this great Providential vision was polyphase current. A true revelation. But this, this was an original discovery found through an accident. It was an empirical discovery of enormous significance. Here was a new electrical force, an utterly new species of electrical force which should have been incorporated into the electrical equations of James Clerk Maxwell. Surprisingly, it was not.