But, Marconi wished to escape every possible inference that Tesla had the superior science, and so the eventual eradication of Poulsen Arc Generators was a consideration of prime importance to Marconi. Marconi directed his engineers to use many common laboratory artifices as models and analogues in this brute force theme. Reconstructed on a gargantuan scale, Marconi obtained coils several stories in height, capacitors which filled warehouses, sparkgaps requiring boiler-sized oil tanks, buried copper screens of an area rivalling a cornfield, and a massive aerial structure several football fields in length and width. Insulators, towers, cable supports, every part of the preexisting electrical sciences was simply enlarged in the hopes of overpowering natural resistance. Marconi made absolutely sure that each giant version of the classic electrical components were patented as inventive novelties, the basis of size alone. He eagerly sought the development of special radio frequency generators, desiring the complete purge of Tesla-derived components. This was, of course, impossible. Every aspect of radio science had been covered by the now hated genius.
Early high power VLF stations were terminated power stations, launching VLF waves into ocean lanes with special trellis-like arrays. These electrical trellis arrangements grew with the needs of a station, in some cases having been nearly 10 miles or more in length. These trellises went straight out into the seawater, early “directional” aerials. Their equally monstrous ground plane, an immense copper screen which ran the entire length of the aerial trellis, was buried underground. An immense construction operation. Both trellis and ground plane went directly into the seawater, without doubt an invocation of sea conductivity originally devised by Antonio Meucci. Marconi designed his systems to drive signals across the sea by every and any propagation modes possible. In fact, part of these signals were in fact, he result of subaqueous conduction currents.
Hundreds of feet in height, loaded with cables as thick as an arm, the trellis monstrosities seemed to declare a defiance of natural law. They were in fact, just that. Marconi defied the reasonable and more accessible energies which had been revealed to the world through Nikola Tesla solely on the basis of personal dislike. Because of this, he was now compelled to these ridiculous extremes. When these bent-L designs proved to spread out and waste their precious and prodigious supply of high frequency currents, Marconi sought out “antenna experts”. Making the most efficient use of the radio power volumes so supplied, Marconi demanded the production of a more directional signal. Designs purloined from Raymond Heising, Alexander Meissner, and Gustav Reuthe proved better able to deliver an adequately “collimated” signal; one whose power retained its “launch shape” despite the hundreds of sea miles between the American east coast and the European west coast. Later, Ernst Alexanderson of GE was called upon to “develop and improve” these designs; his several patents on directional antennas the result.
Brute force was the only means for sending the lossy alternations out across the waves. It s obvious that VLF stations were monstrous affairs, mammoth sites often requiring many hundreds of square acres. The buildings were built on a grand scale, made to rival those which Tesla had long given to the bulldozers of the fearful and the greedy. Marconi wished the complete eradication of Tesla and Tesla technology from both the engineering and the public mind. By building stations to rival the Teslian scale, yet totally ignorant of the true function of stations such as Wardenclyffe, he had hoped to prove himself the more capable inventor. Behind the wild and compulsive ravings, and providing the financial push to establish this condition, sat a pleasandy pleased commodore puffing an imported cigar. The employment of his powerline monopoly became ever the more obvious with each VLF station which went up. VLF stations were monstrous affairs in Marconi’s day, There are a great many yet in operation, all part of the Naval Radio Network.
Marconi only sought the complete domination of the radio world. Toward this end he wished the complete eradication of every other radio system and radio inventor. Marconi monopolized every aspect of the now expanding system. The natural growth of scientific thought and experimental curiosity threatened his monopolistic plans. He “solved” this problem by dominating every aspect of wave radio technology with an odious dictatorial attitude. Many young operators simply left the organization and forged their own roads, eagerly in search of Nikola Tesla and Radiant Energy Radio. Where Marconi could not acquire, plagiarize, copy, bust, or by out a component which he required, he would order his engineers to develop a new system. Everything could be bought. To escape the obvious connection of spark generators with things Teslian, Marconi now actively demanded the development of superior harmonic VLF wave generators. Though capable of providing incredibly penetrating power bursts, the huge Poulsen Arc devices were no longer desirable (see figure).
But all of this labor, all this effort proved that he was wrong. The large copies of Tesla rotating machines, high frequency alternators copied by Alexanderson, were wastefully inefficient. Requiring enormous amounts of steam power to drive them at their high rotation speeds, giant cooling systems necessarily kept the coils and other parts from simply melting. Applied to the giant system components, this energy seemed prodigious but was, in actuality, a small fraction of the total applied steam power. For all this input, the Alexanderson alternator did not yield “signal”. Fuel was expensive, and Alexanderson Alternators required the burn ing of huge quantities of coal (see figure).
Despite the use of this wave-generating system, Marconi was never able to broadcast power on any levels but those considered insignificant. Utilizing the lossy wave mode, there were other significant problems which appeared. Mammoth VLF systems produced only frail ghosts of signals, mere wisps whose signal content was so much like gossamer in the wind. Marconi found that his signals, however powerfully impelled, were now also subject to the caprices of Nature. The permeating interference generated by natural phenomena exceeded the ability of his best operators to discern the fractured telegraphic characters, blasted by endless static crashes. Noise, natural interference plagued all of his transmissions. He overcame this natural “offense” in a truly bizarre manner.
- CHAPTER 1
- CHAPTER 3