Finding that gas-dynamic analogies and applications indeed provided him with a consistent record of successful assessments in these regards, Tesla began considering whether or not the white flame discharges, so different from anything he had ever seen, might not be a gaseous manifestation of electrostatic force. There were certainly abundant experimental instances in which a purely gaseous nature, so unlike anything electrical, was being clearly made manifest. The manner in which the radiant shockwave travelled over the wire coilings in white flimmering laminar streams, brought a new revolution in thought Voltage pulses traversed the secondary surface like a gas pulse under increasing constriction. Until reaching the free end of the coil, these gaseous pulses flowed over the copper surface rather than through it. Tesla referred to this specific manifestation as the “skin effect”. In this the discharge greatly resembled the manner of gases in motion over surfaces.
Furthermore, whenever a metal point was connected to the upper terminal of one of his Transformers, the stream became more directive. It behaved just like a stream of water in a pipe. When the white flimmering stream was directed at distant metal plates, it produced electronic charges. This charge production could be measured as amperage, “current”, at the reception site. In transit however, no such amperage existed. Amperage appeared only when intercepted. Eric Dollard has stated that the space surrounding Tesla Impulse Transformers so surges with these streams that the “interception current” can reach several hundred or even thousands of amperes. But of what was this mysterious stream composed? Tesla struggled with the doubt that these discharge phenomena might be ordinary electricity behaving in extraordinary ways. But did electricity indeed have a smooth, soft, and flimmering nature? The electricity with which he was familiar was shocking, hot, burning, deadly, piercing, stinging, all the attributes of an irritant. But this discharge phenomenon was, whether cool or warm to the touch, soft and gentle. It would not kill.
Even the manner in which the pulse exploded as bright white discharges of greatly transformed voltage, suggested the way in which gases behave when released from their confinements under pressure. These reflective meditations convinced Tesla that this effect was not purely electrical in nature. Closely examining the white flames, Tesla realized why there was no measurable “elec-trical current” at the crown of these activated coils. The normal heavy charge carriers, electrons, could not travel as quickly as the radiant pulse itself. Choked in the metallic lattice of the coil, electrons became immobile. No electron current moved through the coil at all. The radiant pulse which moved over the coil surface, was therefore not electronic in nature.
Additionally, Tesla discovered an amazing phenomenon which removed all doubt concerning the true nature of energetic carriers at work in his apparatus. Tesla arranged a very heavy a U-shaped copper bus-bar, connecting both legs directly to his disrupter primary. Across the legs of this U-shaped busbar were placed several incandescent lamps. The arrangement was a very evident short circuit. The lamps were illuminated to a brilliant cold white light, while being shorted by a heavy copper shunt Uncharacteristic of particulate current electricity, the bright but cold lamps revealed that another energetic current was indeed flowing through the “short-circuits”.
Those who observed this experiment did not expected it to perform any function save the incineration of the disrupter circuit and possibly of the dynamo itself. Instead of this, witnesses beheld a marvel. The lamps lit to an uncommon brightness. In this simple demonstration, Tesla was illustrating but one of his many evidences. Electronic charges would prefer the least resistant circuit, rejecting the incandescent bulbs for the copper path. The current in this situation chose to conform with a contradictory principle. Perhaps this was true because the currents were not electrical. Tesla repeatedly used this demonstration to evidence the “fractionation” of currents electronic, from currents neutral.
A single question remained, the answer to which would provide him with the essential information needed to create a new technology. What so separated or “fractioned” the diverse mobile carriers in his Transformer? It was the geometric configuration of the coil which inadvertently separated each component. Electrons were blocked from flowing through the wire length, while the radiant pulse was released over the coil surface as a gaseous pulse. Electrons should have drifted through the wire but, during each impulse period, were blocked by the line resistance. Thus, the gaseous mobile carriers were released to flow outside the wire, a pulse which travelled along the outer coil surface from end to end.
Here then was evidence that electrical discharges were indeed composed of several simultaneous mobile species. Tesla now comprehended why his first high frequency alternating currents never evidenced these powerful actions. It was the abruptness, the violence of the impulsive discharge, which gave free ‘mobility’ to this unsuspected “gaseous” component. Impulses, unidirectional impulses, were the only means by which these potentials could be unlocked. Alternations were absolutely useless in this regard. Moreover, because alternations could not unleash the second gas-dynamic component, it remained an unusable and pitifully weak means. Tesla forever viewed his high frequency alternating devices as failed projects. This has great bearing on his highly critical views of Marconi and all the others like him who pursued high frequency alternating wave radio. Tesla began to study a topic which has found more enemies and critics than any mis century. Tesla, with greatest interest now, began researching “the aether”.
Victorian Science came to believe that space, all of space, was absolutely permeated with an ultrafine gas which they termed “aether”. It was in this gaseous atmosphere that light was said to be transmitted through space. In fact, space was not viewed as a pure vacuum, aether filled that vacuum. Some Victorians stated that the Ether could, at times, be visibly seen. The golden haze which often fills spaces within buildings were said to be manifestations of aether gas. These displays could be seen in conditions of minimal humidity and in the absence of aerial dust. Others mentioned the colorations often seen with the eyes opened, in a dark room or against a ganzfeld, as evidence of aetheric ruminations (Reichenbach). In order to satisfy all of the physical dynamics which eventually became attached to the concept, aether gas acquired several mutually contradictory attributes.
- PROLOGUE — Symbols and Models
- CHAPTER 2