Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943) and the Electric Universe
November 30, 2008
The Big Picture
It is surprising how few people have heard of Nikola Tesla
considering his many fundamental achievements. He was an
inventor, physicist, and electrical engineer of unusual
intellectual brilliance. Of Serb descent, he worked mostly
in the US but, all too often, others have taken the credit
for this work.
Tesla was more philanthropic than business savvy and, as is
often the case, the more commercially astute ran with his
ideas and stole the glory. For example, Marconi was originally
granted the patent for radio technology, although this was
repealed in 1949, and Thomas Edison even resorted to electrocuting
live animals in an attempt to discredit Tesla's superior AC
[Alternating Current, used globally today] Power. Tesla won the
day, on this occasion, and his ideas now form the basis of modern
power generation and distribution. Edison had favoured far less
efficient DC [Direct Current].
Names like Eddison and Marconi still tend to feature more prominently
in most electrical textbooks, however. For this reason, Tesla is often
described as an underground hero, and some even laud him as the man who
invented the twentieth century. Such a tribute does not seem unreasonable
when you consider that Tesla also invented the Spark Plug, X-Rays, Neon,
Lasers, and the basic technology behind Radar and Robotics. There are
many more, although he was often labelled a nut in his own day for proposing
technology which we now take for granted. [The term "crackpot" overused by
many of today's pseudoskeptics springs to mind.]
Unfortunately, because of the military and economic implications of many
of his ideas, much of Tesla's work has been clouded by conspiracy theories.
For example, it is often claimed that J P Morgan put an end to the Wardenclyffe
Tower project when he discovered that it could also be used for wireless
energy distributuion, fearing that he wouldn't be able to put a meter on it!
It is certainly true that J Edgar Hoover seized Tesla's work immediately
after his death in 1943, and declared it MOST SECRET!
Conspiracy theories aside, however, there was much more to Tesla than a
brilliant inventor. He also recognised the broader implications of
electromagnetism and electrodynamics, and he wasn't afraid to speak his
mind on some of the big issues of the day.
The theory [Relativity] is like a
beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king ... its
exponents are brilliant men but they are metaphysicists, not scientists...
Tesla recognised the roots of an affliction which now poisons mainstream
cosmology -- the rise of mathematics over experiment. Cosmology today,
of course, is a field dominated by mathematicians, not scientists, and
few dare to question this situation.
- Tesla, New York Times, July 11, 1935
The father of plasma physcics and plasma cosmology, Hannes Alfvén
(1908-1995), echoed a similar sentiment. He was also a critic of the
mathematical approach to science:
We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is
an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture.
Tesla would have concurred:
- Hannes Alfvén
Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and
they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build
a structure which has no relation to reality.
Despite his obvious genius however, Tesla didn't always help himself,
and failed to document many of his ideas. Fortunately, his assistants
filed many patents on his behalf without his knowledge, although it
is alleged that many of these remain secret. Conspiracy theories, again.
Followers of the emerging electrodynamic paradigm will, nonetheless,
recognise many striking parallels between Tesla's ideas and today's
This planet, with all its appalling immensity, is to electric currents
virtually no more than a small metal ball.
He went further:
- Nikola Tesla
Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic!
If static our hopes are in vain; if kinetic — and this we know it is,
for certain — then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed
in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature.
It seems to have been around Tesla's time that electricity in space
suddenly became taboo, and even to this day obfuscations are employed
to describe electrc currents in space. How often to we hear terms more
appropriate for fluid dynamics? 'Electron Rain' 'Solar Wind' 'Shock Front'
and 'Ion Storm' are common examples. Why not call them what they are?
The trouble is, electromagnetism is notoriously difficult to model
mathematically, and current models are based on gravity alone.
latest video from the Soupdragon takes a look at Tesla and the
broader implications of his ideas for astronomy and cosmology]
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