Tesla by W. Bernard Carlson

Tesla by W. Bernard Carlson

Author:W. Bernard Carlson [Carlson, W. Bernard]
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 2013-04-10T22:00:00+00:00

FIGURE 13.3. Interior of the experimental station showing the components that provided power to the primary coil of the magnifying transmitter.

In the front are the capacitors and behind them are the breakwheel and regulating coil. On the wall in back are the lightning arresters and the Westinghouse supply transformer is in the box on the wall to the left. From Plate III, CSN, p. 301. From NTM.


As the experimental station took shape, Tesla came to appreciate not only the natural beauty but also the scientific potential of Colorado Springs. “I had not been there but a few days,” he later wrote, “when I congratulated myself on the happy choice and I began the task, for which I had long trained myself, with a grateful sense and full of inspiring hope.… To this was added the exhilarating influence of a glorious climate and a singular sharpening of the senses. In those regions the organs undergo perceptible physical changes. The eyes assume an extraordinary limpidity, improving vision; the ears dry out and become more susceptible to sound. Objects can be clearly distinguished there at [great] distances … [and] claps of thunder [can be heard] seven and eight hundred kilometers away.”12

In late June and early July, as Lowenstein and Gregg continued to fit out the station, Tesla began making observations in the clear, crisp environment. Since he intended to have his transmitter send currents through the Earth to a receiver some distance away, an immediate task was to study the earth’s electrical potential and note how it varied. Because the numerous systems in New York—for telegraphy, telephony, lighting, and transportation—produced too much electrical interference, Tesla had not been able to make any reliable measurements of whether the Earth possessed a natural electrical potential or charge. If the Earth were uncharged, then Tesla would have to use his magnifying transmitter to introduce a tremendous amount of power in order to make the Earth vibrate electrically and transmit power over distances. To use the metaphor of a football (discussed in Chapter 11), an uncharged Earth would be the same as a football with little or no air inside it. However, if the Earth already possessed an electric potential, then Tesla would only need to add a small amount of electricity in order to transmit power; a charged Earth would be the equivalent of a fully inflated football.13

To study the earth’s electrical potential, Tesla rigged up an instrument composed of a coherer with an ink recorder. The coherer consisted of a glass tube filled with loose iron filings between two terminals; whenever the tube detected a high voltage—such as from a spark or electromagnetic wave—the filings would line up to create a conducting path between the terminals. Because the filings tended to stay in position after detecting a signal, some experimenters added a tiny hammer that would jar the filings loose; in his design, Tesla added a clockwork that regularly rotated the coherer.14

To increase the sensitivity of his coherer, Tesla placed it in


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