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The sun. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1916-1920, January 25, 1920, Section 7 Magazine Section, Image 71

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NEW YORK, SUNDAY, JANUARY 25, 1920.-gBZS V, 2S gt,fWCrrY:
Marconi Credits Mystery Flash to Far Planet
HERB is one of tha most amazing
newspaper articles which was ever
published. In it Marconi declares belief
that he has been receiving signals from the
stars'. In it Edison says that this' is not
at nil impossible and that the wizard of
wireless is quite right. In it Tesla an
nounces Ills belief in tho startling possi
bility which the Marconi statement sug
gests, and goe3 further, directing atten
tion to his own experiments and state
ments made some years ago, indicating
the inevitability of such signalling.
Tho discovery, if discovery it'proves to
be (and the testimony of these three great
men, most able of the world's investiga
tors makes it reasonable to call it, that,
makes it unreasonable indeed to call it
anything less definite), opens fields so
wfdo that they well may appeal to tho
.human mind which speculatively begins
their exploration.
They well may hold vast secrets whoso
revelation will revolutionize tho thought
of all humanity, they may clarify and sim
plify religious theories, putting behind
faith proof undeniable, and taking from
tho back of superstition the last prop,
which holds' it up to fool mankind.
May Reveal Great Secrets
iliey may reveal material secrets of an
epoch-making magnitude, metamorphos
ing theories which have been accepted as
fundamental fact, adding new principles
which will give us basis for tremendous
. progress.
The statement by the famous Italian
engineer, who is known throughout tho
world as the discoverer, or at leas.t the
first perfector, of wireless telegraphy,
was made in London to a member of my .
staff there, Mr. II. M. Forbes, a well
known and entirely reliable journalist.
What ho wrote upon the subject after
ward wa3 submitted to the great Italian
for revision, and therefore, as I shall
quote it, actually represents the views of
Signor Marconi.
The Edison and Tesla statements wcro
made to me, Mr. Edison's at his labora
tory in Orange, N. J., and Mr. Tesla's at
hi3 hotel in New York, after they had
rend Marconi's statement.
"During my experiments," Marconi t
said, "I have received signals 'which con
ceivably might have been sent from or .
have arisen in interplanetary space."
"You mean they may have been sent by
beings upon other planets to tho inhab
irants of this one 7''
"Yes." The word was positively
But let rao quoto his statement con
secutively and in full. It is purposely
mado non-scientific, so that the untrained
taind may grasp tho great inventor's
.Jvbes called on Marconi during
one of the Iatter's frequent visits to Lon
don, whero he spends much of his time.
"Then you regard interplanetary com
munication as a possibility f" asked Mr.
"Yes; the idea of interplanetary com
munication appears to mo to be by no
means; outside the range of possibility.
"I shall be in no way surprised if, in
case thero be existent upon Mars beings
of an intelligence analogous to that of
human beings, they find a means of get
ting into communication with us on this
"Immense things remain to be learned.
We have only nibbled at the edjje of the
vast feast of knowledge" which awaits us
in the science of astronomy. It will link
up with tha science of electricity. In
deed it already has done so. Thus linked
almost anything may be expected of the
two. ... ,
"Coupled with wireless, especially, the
science of astronomy presents a study of
superlatively engrossing interest. The
fact that scientific understanding upon
this planet, upon the little earth, may be
far less advanced than that on other plan
ets in no wise detracts from this interest.
May ftave Tried to SignalUs.
"For all we know for years past, pos
sibly for centuries uncounted, many of tho
'stars' that we see in tho firmament may
havo been in communication one with tho
other. Thinking it, we inevitably must '
be stimulated to great effort toward reali
zation fpr .ourselves of (such possibilities
if they exist.
"What reflection at first could be more .
staggering to the human imagination and
then a greater urge toward renewed and
ceaseless study than tho thought that,
through tho ages, messages flashed from
oro celestial sphcro to another may have
helped to .develop whatever conscious lifo
exists upon tho communication spheres, to
urge along on them through the exchange
of thought whatever thero exists of tho
nature of, that which wo call 'civilization.' ,
"Wo upon the earth $avc worked alone
Strange Wireless Signals Stimulate Inventor's Belief We
Soo.n May Communicate With Mars or Other Celestial
Bodies Edison and Tesla 'Regard Success Possible
and stnmblingly.' If thoso dwelling in
i other worlds have had tho help of other
beings, so that each finds itself in pos
sesion of, a progression representative of
tho sum of tho wisdom existing among all
the communicating spheres, (Vy may' have
far surpassed us."
"What first suggested to you this idea?"
Mr. Forbes inquired.
And hero comes the most amazing thing
Mvrconi said, ono of tho most amazing
things that any man ever has said.
"During my exppriments with wireless,"
said tho great inventor, "I have encoun
tered many striking phenomena.
"I havo received signals which quite
conceivably might have arisen somewhere
in interplanetary space I
"The marvels of the cosmos nrc unlim
ited. It is idle to suppose that our com
paratively insignificant planet sets tho
fashion, leads the- van, represents n de
velopment higher than or even at high
as that which exists on other spheres.
"And our own planet is a storehouse of
wonders. That being so, wo may rest as
sured that tho same is truo of tho vast
hosts of stars at which we gaze with eyes
Am x
' which sec no details, but yet must widen
in wonder.
"It would, be foolish to suppose, for
instance, that life cannot exist under con
ditions other than terrestrial, that is,
under conditions different from theso
existing on this planet."
I assumed that ho referred to theso
facts already fully establish througli
astronomy as to tho wido difference exist
ing among tho stellar throng with regard
to volume, mass, density, atmosphere, &c.
"Wo cannot say," said Mr. Marconi,
"that such diversity must bo accepted a3
nn insuperable obstacle to the manifesta
tion of conscious and effectivo life."
"Do you contend, then, that there may
be upon other planets intelligent life con
cerning which wc nrc quito ignorant?"
"It is certainly within the bounds of
"And do you consider it possible that
lifo ns on thoso other planets existing may
havo qualities not only different but su
perior to the qualities of thi3 earth's
human beings? Some havo argued that
whereas terrestrial man is endowed with
five senses beings possessed of many moro
may cjjst on other planets. Do you think
this is an entirely unreasonable assump.
"I do not regard it as at all unreason
able." ".May there be in existence elsewhcro
in tho realms of space beings with a
.magnetic sense, a sense of orientation, or,
perhaps, an electric sense?"
"Discoveries to that effect would cause
me no surprise."
"If beings existed possessed of nn
electric sense highly developed might this
render them capable of the reception of
wireless messages?"
"Who can say? It seems not beyond
tho range of possibility."
What Mr. Edison Thinks.
Mr. Marconi went no further in his
speculations with regard to theso extraor
dinary and till now scientifically un
touched puzzles.' Ho left the subject
wrapped in profound mystery, but he had
suggested startling possibilities and de
clared that he was working at the task of
trying to penetrate it. Mr. Forbes's
record of the startling interview was sent
to mo at once.
I took the article, ns I received it from
my London office, to Mr. Edison at his
Orange laboratory. He did not fail to tnko
the matter very seriously, although he in
stantly explained that he lays no claim to
being expert in tho scienco of tho wireless.
"Tho thought," said Mr. Edison, "of
course is not a new one. Humanity, al
most as fur back as our records go and
very likely far beyond, has been trying- to
communicate with theso 'heavenly bodies
which we call the stars.
"Wc all havo wondered if, some day,
signals between the earth and other plan
ets yould not bo a possibility. Most of
us who have studied any of these prob
lems havo wondered if efforts to signal
us have not been made already by inhab
itants of other planets.
"I have thought about the matter and
havo seen some signs of which I must be
careful not to cxaggcrato the importance
or significance. I remember that ono day
while seated under a tree at the apex of
a large mass of iron ore, I was eating my
lunch near my reduction plant, when I
noted that the magnetic needle of my
compass jumped abqut astonishingly. It
was very strnnge.
Marconi's Suggestion Reasonable.
"At onco the thought came to my mind
that signals sent through interstellar
space might be responsible for tho dis
turbance. Not long nfterward I made the
definito suggestion that n scientifically
kept wntch for interstellar signalling
should be established in Michigan, where
enormous masses of oro might bo expected
particularly to attract magnetic signals
from space if any should bo sent.
"Marconi's suggestion is more reason
able, for it would be easier to send static
signals through ipaca than it would
be to send them through the atmosphere.
Resistance would be less. Ho is quite
right when he maintains that the develop
ment of wireless is only in its infancy.
"Of course I do not know that any of
the planets arc inhabited, or, if any planet
is, what the nature of its inhabitants may
be. If such inhabitants exist they surely
arc suited to whatever their environment
may be, and that may mean that they are
very different from us.
Disease Vapor in Space.
"We havo no reason positively to de
clare, that definite influences even other
than electrical have not reached us out of
space. There was the Spanish influenza,
so called, for example. Wc are not sure
that it originated on this planet. It
spread everywhere irrespective of the
lines of human travel. It has been estab
lished, for example, that it appeared upon
Pacific Ocean islands which had had no
communication with any infected portion
of tho world,; or, indeed, any portion of
tho world whatever. Ships reaching ut
terly isolated islands found half of their
inhabitants ill or dead of the disease.
"Somo scientillu man has said that wo
were passing through a cloud of benzol
vapor floating in space. Renzol is poison
ous. It might affect all humanity physi
cally; it might affect all human thought,
distorting it, fur it is known to haw; an
influence on the brain.
"It is not unreasonable to stippoc that
more than onco we havo p:?icd through
realms of space pcrmcalul with vapors of
one kind or another. If this occurs il is
not unreasonable to expect them to affect
"If any development of bignalling oc
curs it will bo accomplished by some pure
scientist with the unstinted aid 'of com
mercial men of imagination and not afraid
(o spend of effort and of money. The
astronomer is u pure scientist, who can
have no hope of largo material reward, or
any, indeed, beyond his own satisfaction
of achievement and the commendation of
his fellow men.
"Wireless would seem to be the medium
of which we most reasonably may expect
something in the way of signals from the
other planets if we ever aro to receive such
signals. It operates in that unknown and
wonderful substance or mechanism which
wc call tho ether and which fills all space.
Atmosphere is local to us.
It has been suggested, and I neither
indorse nor reject tho idea, that the
activity of our wireless effort during tho
war may havo attracted tho attention of
experimenters upon other planets. I
doubt that, hut I do not deny it. It is my
thought that when we begin to signal wo
shall have discovered new means, more
powerful and effective than any wo at
present know. Of course, wc may expect
tho future to produce exactly that.
Signals From Intelligent Beings.
"If tho theory suggested by Marconi Is
accurate and signals arc being sent out by
some one or more of tho other planets
they must be tho work of beings of intel
ligence theso planets must hnvo inhabi
tants, in other words. As a matter of
fact it is an inexcusable und htupid bit of
egotism for in to assume that only this
small earth has produced lifo and in
telligence. 'The intellectual individuals, if there be
any, upon tho other worlds may be very
different from those upon this earth.
They may bo different in form and dif
ferent in many ways, utterly unlike man
kind. But to nssurao thnt they do not
Continued on Eighth Page.

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