CHAPTER 2

The work, no longer a simple upper room experiment with components belonging to others, became an excessive burden set on him by his principle investor. Constantly clamoring for the perfected systemology of instant world-communications, Marconi had to deliver the patron his due tribute in continual successions. This meant that he had to consistently conceive and develop original inventions; a task which proved beyond the ability of the experimenter-turned-diplomat. Marconi wished to escape all those whose strings pulled him at every turn. He abandoned his VLF stations to technicians and operators in search of his lost dreams. The manifestation of his discontent took itself in a bizarre self-exile which lasted for the remainder of his earthly life. He had lost his first love. He had forfeited his love, the desire to probe the mysteries of Nature. And what had he in exchange for all this? Fame? A title? Too much too soon. Fame at an early age brings rapid rise and rapid demise. The romantic dream was long gone. The upturned nose, so evident in Marconi’s earliest portraits was now replaced by a deeply embittered condescension. He had sold his youth away, a prodigal who could not return. Despoiled and jaded, he sought at least some respite from this condition in a new epoch of discovery. He launched out to sea, and never returned again.

Youthful inventors require time during which maturation completes the journey from plagiarism to true originality. Unfortunately the approach of fame and fortune delayed this maturation process. Marconi was never before able to reenter the real world of experimentation without the torment of obligations and scheduled performance. Professional industry had no room for creativity. Every idea which he had developed or even thought to develop had a price tag attached to its ankle. Every single idea. He had so long forbad the creation of anything original, that he realized himself bereft of a single new idea. Lost innocence, lost humility, lost openness, lost willingness to learn. Could these lost treasures return to one who had so offended their presence?

Therefore, Marconi sought refuge in a freedom which he had not long known. The pursuit of his old lost dreams kept him an exile, lost at sea. This self-imposed exile, an absolute necessity for his inner survival, had its terrible price. The price for regaining his lost love and atoning for his years of cruelty to others. Leaving his wife and children behind, he sailed the seas. His wife divorced him, worse than an ultimate insult.

Sailing the world for years in his yacht “Elettra” he finally managed escapes from patrons, media, business, and his own overinflated image. Here there was peace and tranquility, solitude and space out under the night skies. Marconi returned to his boyhood days where, content to read and experiment, he re-sought his own lost trail. Here, Marconi sought to reconnect with the lost experimenter’s theme which form the basis of his young pursuits. The boyish thrill which propelled him too early and too quickly into world prominence would not now defeat his persistent progress toward originality. There at last, away at sea, he could find some truly original thing, perfecting an original design. Giving such a development to humanity without guilt or the entanglements of financiers would fulfill the vacuous space which wealth could not fill. Perhaps he could atone for all the terrible affairs visited by his terrible ambition. He would seek such a wonderful possibility, but not by ambitious efforts. He would wait, wait for the visions to return.

IONOSPHERE

The sea was now his homeland. Here he could relinquish his titles, his fame, his responsibilities at last as search the world of wonders. The starry night skies drew his gaze, and his heart gradually healed. Enthralled once again with the experimenter’s love, he slowly and methodically equipped the central large gallery room of the Elettra with electrical apparatus. Marconi began thinking and researching once again. Soon, he was drawn into a study of the natural electric environment. Exploring the natural phenomena which produced static and noise provided a fascinating study tapestry against his wanderings under the night sky. Process which continued to plague his large VLF stations, the facts which he once strove to secretize, now became a most wonderful new study. It was a liberating experience to study and not be required to report and finalize. Out at sea, there were only secrets, the wonderful secrets of Nature.

Marconi discovered the frailty of wave propagation across the seas. This was a fact reported by Tesla a decade before. He began investigating the electrical layers which he believed were found in some atmospheric layer above the clouds. Mahlon Loomis had suggested this very thing as early as 1864. Marconi reconstructed an apparatus which he had built when yet a boy. It became part of his original demonstration when he transmitted shorter wave signals across Salisbury Plain for the British Military. This shortwave beam signalling device was nothing more than the very oilbath spark generator of Dr. Augusto Righi. Marconi placed the spark gap itself in the bent copper parabolic mirror after the manner of Heinrich Hertz. He then constructed a receiver, similar in construction but differing in function. A variety of sensitive materials and components were used to receive signals. Selenium (Tesla), spiral loops (Tesla), single turn loops (Tesla), nickel powders (Branly), carbon powders (Tommassina), neon bulbs (Vreeland), and several other variations of these. Marconi began performing a series of very interesting transmissions which involved land based receivers and sea-based transmitters. But he did not engage line-of-sight transmissions as he used to do. Now, he aimed the parabolic mirrors toward the sky.

The experiment was performed in hopes that a moderately powered transmitter could reach a distant site by reflection alone. The land based receiver remained fixed, an assistant listening for signals. Marconi took the Elettra straight out to sea, taking a straight route away from the reception site. Aiming the transmitter at the sky, Marconi began tapping out signals. The assistant was to record the time when signals were maximum or minimum. Engaging this procedure several times, Marconi recognized that reflections were indeed taking place. Signals grew to a maximum when he was at a distance from the reception site which formed a nearly perfect forty-five degree angle.