Moreover, Tesla noticed that the brilliant fixed points of light remained in fixed positions each time he applied the current. Equally astounding was the fact that each material portrayed distinctive point symmetries upon the glass enclosure. The most resilient and successful crystalline material was carborundum, which he ultimately adopted for practical use. This too gave its characteristic point symmetry across the globe.
Tesla was not sure what he had discovered. He intuitively surmised that these point patterns of light somehow revealed the crystalline structure of the excited material. He also utilized the geometrical construction to obtain his deduction. His thoughts turned to the internal crystal conditions. As electrically charged particles were propelled and ejected through the carborundum, they were deflected by infinitesimal points. Diverging from such infinitesimal points, they impinged upon the inside spherical globe which housed the carborundum point. These brilliant points of light were always of the same symmetry because the ejected particles were passing through a fixed grating: a crystalline grating.
He theorized that this fixed pattern represented the greatly magnified crystalline symmetry. This simple apparatus was the world’s first point-electron microscope. The phenomenon responsible for the defined projection of crystalline spaces is referred to as “field emission”. Later, others would duplicate these same results with other crystalline specks. The remarkable X-Ray photography of Max von Laue already permitted the sighting of crystalline atoms. In this scheme a thin crystal point was placed at a critical distance from an X-Ray source. Entering and passing through the crystal slice, divergent X-Rays produced a greatly magnified image of crystal atoms on photographic negatives.
The result of von Laue’s experiment was astounding, but was a purely geometric consequence. Divergent rays from a vanishingly small radiant point can theoretically magnify equally small specks to immense size. But while both Tesla and von Lane produced wonderful results with particle-like emissions, the practical achievement of these ideals were diminished when using optical light rays.
Emile Demoyens (1911) claimed to have seen extremely tiny mobile specks under a powerful optical microscope … but only at noon during the months of May, June, and July! Colleagues thought him quite mad, but Dr. Gaston Naessens has comprehended why these specific time periods permitted such extreme viewing. During these seasonal times the noonday sunlight contains great amounts of deep ultraviolet light. The shortened wavelengths provide a sudden optical boost, permitting the observation of specks, which are normally invisible.
Progress in optical science seemed limitless and free. It was anticipated that no limit could bar humanity from viewing the very smallest constituents of matter. But when the physicist Ernst Abbe challenged the high hopes of optical science by imposing certain theoretical limits on optical resolution, all these hopes seemed to dissolve. Abbe claimed that optical resolution depended entirely upon incident light wavelengths, the limit being one-third of the light wavelength used to illuminate the specimen. According to Abbe, the extreme ultraviolet light of 0.4 microns wavelength could not be used to resolve the details of objects smaller than .15 microns.
This theoretical “death-knell” discouraged most optical designers of the time. Since, he claimed, resolution of optical microscopes was restricted from 1600 to 2500 diameters, developing newer optical microscopes was a futile pursuit. Since resolution is the ability of a magnifying instrument to identify details and ultra-fine levels of internal structure, the Abbe limit imposed a serious halt on the development of newer optical microscopes.
Continual medical progress rides entirely on the excellence of its instrumentalities. In the absence of new and excellent optical instruments of greater precision, medical progress grinds to a screaming halt. When this happens, academes write papers in the absence of true vision. True knowledge, reliant on vision and experiment, is replaced by unfounded speculation.
Others conceived of electron microscope designs, taking advantage of the Abbe restriction for lucrative purposes. These developers were not good planners, failing to recognize that electron microscopy would place equally grave limitations on biological researchers. Electron beams kill living matter. Magnifying images only after killing them, no living thing could ever be observed in natural stages of activity through electron microscopy. But, if money was to be made, then “all was possible”. Despite the protests of qualified medical personnel, RCA continued its development with Zworykin at their helm.
Electron microscopy, rationally impelled by the Abbe limit, became the new quest of young financiers. Despite the protests of major researchers, RCA continued its propaganda campaigns. This technological imposition, were it developed into a marketable product line, would severely handicap the work of every medical researcher. Pathologists would be literally forced to accept the limitations of the anticipated electron microscope.
Bracing themselves for the announcement of mass-produced electron microscopes, corporate researchers prepared themselves for the laboratory adaptations they would be forced to adopt. Manuals were already being distributed.
They would be unable to watch progressive activities in the boasted “highest magnifications ever achieved”. Before RCA reached the goal however, others had already challenged the capabilities of electron microscopy. The unexpected development temporarily threw RCA off balance. The competitors had challenged the Abbe limit, and seemed to be optically working their way into realms in which RCA had claimed “exclusive” rights.
Vibrating above the deep ultraviolet range were the X-Rays of von Laue’s projection microscope. But this realm was not good for pathologists since X-Rays would only reveal the structure of crystalline substances. Some designers went ahead and built soft X-Ray microscopes. These devices placed heavy requirements on the preparation of specimens. X-Rays passed right through specimens and would kill them if they were alive to begin with. The very best X-Ray images of tiny specimens required organism-killing metallic stains. Biologists needed to see their specimens in the living state.
While engineers at RCA were yet scrambling to take the competitive edge and seize the new market, several designers of ultra-microscopes began to successfully challenge the Abbe limit. Abbe stated that the maximum resolving power of any ultraviolet ray microscope would be restricted from 2500 to 5000 diameters and no further. But ultra-microscopes constructed by Graton and Dane (Harvard University) succeeded in developing resolutions of 6000 diameters with magnifications of 50,000 diameters.
- BROADCAST POWER: Nikola Tesla
- ENDLESS LIGHT: Dr. Thomas Henry Moray