Though discovered by Tesla in 1889, the preliminary observation of this effect was published after an intensive battery of investigations. The “Dissipation of Electricity”, published just prior to Christmas of 1892, is the pivotal Tesla lecture. This is the departure point in which Tesla abandons research and development of high frequency alternating current. Divorcing himself from that field entirely, Tesla describes the Shockwaves and other effects of IMPULSES. In addition to those physical sensations which he describes in characteristic understatements, Tesla also enlarges upon the “gaseous” aspects associated with the phenomena. He observed that the abrupdy charged wires in his experiments projected a strange gaseous stream when immersed in an oil bath. A phenomenon which he once thought due entirely to wire-adsorbed gases, he found that the effect could be so continuously produced from a single wire that no volume of ordinary adsorbed gas could supply the flow. Indeed, he was able to produce streams of this kind in oil which so powerfully projected from charged wire ends that they visibly depressed the oil into a hole, some two inches in depth! Tesla began to realize the true nature of the fine issuing “gas” which projected from wire ends immersed in oil.
He now prepared an extensive series of tests in order to determine the true cause and nature of these shocking air pulses. In his article, Tesla describes the shield-permeating shocks as “soundwaves of electrified air”. Nevertheless, he makes a remarkable statement concerning the sound, heat, light, pressure, and shock which he sensed passing direcdy through copper plates. Collectively, they “imply the presence of a medium of gaseous structure, that is, one consisting of independent carriers capable of free motion”. Since air was obviously not this “medium”, to what then was he referring? Further in the article he clearly states that “besides the air, another medium is present*.
Through successive experimental arrangements, Tesla discovered several facts concerning the production of his effect. First, the cause was undoubtedly found in the abruptness of charging. It was in the switch closure, the very instant of “closure and break”, which thrust the effect out into space. The effect was definitely related to time, IMPULSE time. Second, Tesla found that it was imperative that the charging process occurred in a single impulse. No reversal of current was permissible, else the effect would not manifest. In this, Tesla made succinct remarks describing the role of capacity in the spark-radiative circuit. He found that the effect was powerfully strengthened by placing a capacitor between the disrupter and the dynamo. While providing a tremendous power to the effect, the dielectric of the capacitor also served to protect the dynamo windings. Not yet sure of the process at work in this phenomenon, Tesla sought the empirical understanding required for its amplification and utilization. He had already realized the significance of this unexpected effect. The idea of bringing this strange and wondrous new phenomenon to its full potential already suggested thrilling new possibilities in his mind. He completely abandoned research and development of alternating current systems after this event, intimating that a new technology was about to unfold.
The effect could also be greatly intensified to new and more powerful levels by raising the voltage, quickening the switch “make-break” rate, and shortening the actual time of switch closure. Thus far, Tesla employed rotating contact switches to produce his unidirectional impulses. When these mechanical impulse systems failed to achieve the greatest possible effects, Tesla sought a more “automatic” and powerful means. He found this “automatic switch” in special electrical arc dischargers. The high voltage output of a DC generator was applied to twin conductors through his new arc mechanism, a very powerful permanent magnet sitting crosswise to the discharge path. The discharge arc was automatically and continually “blown out” by this magnetic field.
Imperative toward obtaining the desired rare effect, the capacitor and its connected wire lines had to be so chosen as to receive and discharge the acquired electrostatic charge in unidirectional staccato fashion. The true Tesla circuit very much resembles a pulse jet, where no back pressure ever stops the onrushing flow. Electrostatic charge rises to a maximum, and is discharged much more quickly. The constant application of high voltage dynamo pressure to the circuit insures that continual successions of “charge-rapid discharge” are obtained. It is then and only then that the Tesla Effect is observed. Pulses literally flow through the apparatus from the dynamo. The capacitor, disrupter, and its attached wire lines, behave as the flutter valve.
The high voltage dynamo remains the true electrostatic source in the apparatus. This was a fact well appreciated by Tesla, who disliked die painful radiant effects proceeding into space. It was evident that the dynamo had somehow been modified by the addition of these “pulsing valve” circuits. The dynamos being used provided deadly voltages, capable of killing a man. The valve circuits were forcing a strange radiance of those deadly field energies. Somehow, the dynamo energy was being expanded into space with dangerous and painful force. But how? By what mysterious and provocative means was this condition established? The result of this experimental series fixed a new concept in Tesla’s mind. Tesla had of course realized the implications of his mysterious shocking-field effect. This was radiant electricity. With this phenomenon, Tesla could develop a far better world-changing technology than Polyphase. Moreover, this radiant electric effect could replace powerlines.
The Tesla Research Laboratory was a four story structure which stood at 33-35 South Fifth Avenue in New York City. Buildings such as the Tesla Laboratory may yet be found in the Soho section of Manhattan. Each is large in size, amply supplied with several floors of immense gallery halls and upper floor studios. He was thus afforded the space to perform several critical experiments in broadcast electrical power techniques. Tesla first conducted elaborate and extensive investigations in order to comprehend the exact nature of this new electrical effect. Tesla realized that this strange “shocking field” actually radiated through space from the impulse apparatus. If this was electrostatic energy, it was more intense and more penetrating than any electrostatic field he had ever observed. If this was merely a “stuttered” electrostatic field, why then was its strength so very intensified? Tesla began to believe that he had discovered a new electrical force, not simply a treatment of an existing force. It is for this reason that he often described the effect as “electrodynamic” or “more electrostatic”.
- PROLOGUE — Symbols and Models
- CHAPTER 2