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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, November 13, 1898, Image 25

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1898-11-13/ed-1/seq-25/

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Tesla`s Latest Wonder
TKSLA'S latest electrical wonder
is out. It Is out because he ba.«
just received patents on It in
this and other countries.
What Tesla proposes to do
now is to transmit almost any amount
of power almost any distance without
wires, and without loss. Although
moving ships at sea may use the sys
tem for propulsion it is mainly intend
ed for use on land.
To illustrate the anticipated results
in the most concrete form it is pro
posed, for instance, that water power
shall generate a great quantity of
electricity on the lower courses of
streams coming from the Sierras; that
this electricity shall be conducted to a
balloon arrangement floating a mile or
two above the earth; that there shall
be in San Francisco a similar balloon
high above the city and that all the
el-'itrical energy conducted to the first
balloon shall pass without loss and
without wires to the balloon over the
city, from which it shall descend to
turn wheels and light lamps, etc.
A secondary result would seem to be
that ships minus boilers and minus
coal shall plow their way from the
Golden Gate to Puget Sound, their
churning propellers being driven by
motors which draw their energy
through the air from stations arranged
every hundred miles or so along the
This may seem a crazy idea to some
people, but then it was a more crazy
idea once that a man's voice should
be heard 2000 miles away and that a
waterfall should turn a mill a hundred
miles away, and besides Nikola Tesla
says so and he is acknowledged as one
of the very best electric experts in the
In one sense Tesla is a greater wizard
than Edison. They are twin wizards
in the wondrous field of electrical sci
ence, but they are wholly unlike. Edi
son is wholly practical and he cares for
nothing that he cannot make a com
mercial BUCO6S& His spur is not devo
tion to science as it was with FYank-
Ifn, Faraday, Volta, Galvani and the
rest. Tesla is rather Edison's reverse
as a genius. He plunges into electrical
mystery and seeks scientific facts, phe
nomena, laws and principles rather
than patents though he looks uut for
the patents when they are in sight.
Young Tesla has startled the world
about as much as has Edison, but you
d^n't find his name on the patent plates
of as many machines about town. He
made electrical engineers marvel by
smilingly passing a milliun volts of
electricity through his body and he
showed them how to light a room bril
liantly with a simple empty glass tube
which he held In his hand or laid on
the table without any connecting wires.
In various ways he has led the sci
entific world far toward the final mys
tery of this "form of radiation." This
latest advance of his is both scientific
and practical.
"Tesla's Bystem of electric power
transmission through natural media"
is the descriptive title of this latest in
vention of his.
This at once suggests the new tele
graphy without wires, which promises
to be a commercial feature of everyday
life to-morrow or next day, but the one
system is wholly different from the
In the wireless telegraphy an appar
atus sends out in all directions through
air, buildings, earth and water a series
of "Hertzian waves " as a lighthouse
lamp sends out light waves The
length and frequency are regulated
and the receiving apparatus, if adapt
ed to these waves, responds as one
tuning fork will to its like. In this
case the electrical phenomena proceed
in all directions like sound or ripples
from where a stone strikes in the
Tesla, however, proposes to generate
energy at one point and pass it all
Generating Eiectric Energy by Water Power Out in tbe Mountains.
Illustrating the method by Which Electric Power Is Conducted From One Place to
Another Without Wares, The Balloons Act as the Poles of the Dynamos and the Current
Flashes Across Through the Rarefied Air,
without loss through the air direct to
a distant point, where it may be used
for light or power. A comprehension
of his invention depends upon an un
derstanding of "voltage."
An electric current may be large in
quantity and low in intensity or small
in quantity and high in intensity as a
stream of water be large in volume and
slow of motion or may be small and
rapid. A stream of water an inch in
diameter will exert more power than a
small river if the pressure is great
In handling electricity quantity is re
duced to intensity and the reverse by
means of "transformers." In long-dis
tance transmission of power the energy
is transformed to a high intensity or
voltage and then sent over the wires,
and where it is received it is again
transformed to a lower voltage and
greater quantity for use.
Here is another preparatory Illustra
tion. Most people have seen electric
sparks Jump from one brass ball to
another in electrical apparatus. The
distance these sparks will jump de
pends not on the amount of electricity
generated but on its Intensity or volt-
Now, there are two things which
mainly underlie Tesla's new scheme.
One is the production of voltages be
fore hardly dreamed of, ani the other
is the increased conductivity of the air
,when it is rarefied as it is at high alti
Up to date 15,000 volts has been the
measure of the intensity at which elec
tric power has been transmitted over
copper wires, though now they are
talking of doubling it. Tesla proposes
to transmit it without wires at 2,500,000
volts or more. At this voltage a given
quantity transmitted would produce
about 200 times the ordinary amount of
power when reduced with transform
ers. .
It Is a well-known laboratory fact
that rarefied air is a conductor of elec
tricity, though one of much resistance.
The Crookes tubes of X ray fame de
pend on this principle. "With one sweep
C I—Primary1 — Primary coll-
A1 — Secondary coil.
0 i Receiving terminal supported by balloon.
L M— Lamps and motors energized by transmitted
Tesla takes this principle from the
laboratories where, only, men have put
it to use, and goes up to the clouds
with it He produces a wonderful volt
age that will Jump an enormous dis
tance in every-day air, and proposes to
take it in balloons up to where the air is
a sort of natural Crook.es tube. In auch
an altitude it will Jump long distances
to another terminal, he says, the layer
of heavy air below being a non-con
ductor and resisting It like the rubber
wrapping of a wire, for ordinary air is
not a good conductor.
Tesla is the pioneer of high voltages.
Some time ago he invented an "oscilla
tor " a purely Tesla contrivance, for
this purpose. He has been making
them bigger and bigger and his last one
gets up to 2,500,000 volts. The accom
panying illustration shows his latest
oscillator in action.
The diagrams illustrate the theory of
the apparatus. In the transmitting ap
paratus A is an insulated high tension
coll about a magnetic core. C is a
second coil of larger wire. The ter
minals of both coils are shown. G is
the generator or source of current. D
is a balloon acting as a terminal itself
or a terminal supported by a balloon
to which the current passes. The cur
rent is supposed to pass through the
rarefied upper air from D to Dl, a re
ceiving balloon at a great distance.
The primary and secondary coils of the
receiving apparatus are the reverse of
the transmitter. L and M indicate
lamps and motors to be energized by
the transmitted current.
In the long descriptive text accom-
Tesla's model transformer
or "oscillator" in action whjen
creating an effective elec
trical pressure of two and a
half million volts. The ac
tual width of space traversed
by the luminous streams fron)
the single terminal is over
sixteer) feet.
panying the inventor's application for
a patent it is said that the invention
comprises a novel method for the
transmission of electrical energy with
out the employment of metallic line
conductors, but the results arrived at
are of such character and magnitude
as compared with any heretofore se
cured as to render indispensable the
employment of means and the utiliza
tion of effect! essentially different in
their chara .eristics and actions from
those before used or investigated.
The systems depend, he says, on "ex
clusively high pressures," but he has
devised means to generate with safety
and ease pressures measured by mil
lions of volts. Then he states some
thing that electrical engineers know
mighty little about. He says:
"F^rst, that with electrical pressures
of the magnitude and character which
I have made it possible to produce, the
ordinary atmosphere becomes, in
a measure, capable of servine as a true,
conductor; se-nd, that the conduc
tivity of the air increases so materi
ally with the increase of electrical
pressure and degree of rarefaction that
it becomes possible to transmit
through even moderately rarefied
strata of the atmosphere electrical en
ergy up to practically any amount and
to any distance."
If Tesla can bring electrical energy
through the air in "any amount and to
any distance" he can get a big contract
out here in California next week. But
for all anybody knows we will soon be
sending up balloons about the bay to
catch the thunderbolts hurled from
balloons away in the mountains, and
be laughing at the poor colliers that
will have to go into the lumber trade.
"If there be high mountains in the
vicinity," says Mr. Tesla, "the termin
als should be at a greater height."
Electrical engineers seen yesterday
declined to discuss this wonderful prop
osition for publication Just yet, but said
that they had no doubt that something
of the sort would be done one of thesu
days. It is, in fact, quite likely that
future generations will look back with
curious interest on theße days where
people used poles and wires for elec
tricity and pictures and samples will
be stowed In museums like old armor
and the first steam engines.
Mr. Tesla's Invention for handling
vessels at sea without there being any
body on board differs slightly
from the apparatus for trans
mitting power across land with
out the use of wires. In the
latter the principle of overcoming re
sistance by placing the electrode high
In air where there is little resistance is
made use of. Just what principle is
used In the movement of vessels is not
clearly explained in the telegraphic re
ports from the Inventor, but it would
appear to be some application of the
A — Primary coil.
C — Secondary coil.
G — Source of electrical energy.
D — Terminal supported by balloon.
principle that causes an X ray to glow
even when removed several feet from
the static machine. But whatever it
is it is one of the greatest wonders of
the age and surely destined to revolu
tionize warfare.
In speaking of his ship moving and
handling invention Tesla said:
"Hitherto the only means of control
ling the movements of a vessel from a
distance have been supplied through
the medium of a flexible conductor,
such as an electric cable, but this sys
tem is subject to obvious limitations,
such as are imposed by the length,
weight and- strength of the conductor
which can be practically used; by the
difficulty of maintaining with safety
the high speed of the vessel or chang
ing the direction of her movements
with rapidity; the necessity of effect-
Ing the control from a point which Is
practically fixed, and from many other
drawbacks which are inseparably con
nected with such a system.
"The plan which I have perfected In
volves none of these obiections, for I
am enabled by the use of my invention
to employ any means of propulsion to
impart to the moving body or vessel
the highest possible speed, to control
the operation of its machinery and to
direct its movements from either a
fixed point or from a body moving and
changing its direction, however rapid
ly, and to maintain this control over
great distances without any artificial
connections between the vessel and the
apparatus governing Its movements,
and without such restrictions as these
must necessarily impose."
Mr. Wellmon's Polar Expedition,
Mr. Welimun's ship, the Fridtjof, has
returned from Franz Josef Land, bring
ing news of the expedition down to Au
gust 2. Writing to us on that date, the
leader announced the landing of his
party at Cape Tegetthoff, and his pro
posed start for the north a few days
later. The voyage to Franz Josef Land
had been a successful one. After ten
days in the ice Cape Grant was reached
on July 27, Cape Flora on the 28th. Here
the ship was turned back by ice, reach
ing Cape Tegetthoff on the 30th, after
which the tour of "Wilczek and Salm
islands was made before the final land
ing was effected. A house, named
"Harmsworth House," as the inner
shell was taken from Cape Flora, had
been erected at Cape Tegetthoff, but, In
spite of the temptation to winter there,
Mr. Wellman hoped to be able to adhere
to his original plan and push north
ward to Crown Prince Rudolf Land,
wintering there in an improvised hut of
stones and snow. The house at Cape
Tegetthoff would be of use to fall back
upon in case of need.
Germap Expedition to the Arctic Seas.
The Heligoland, Captain Rudiger,
with the German Arctic expedition un
der Herr Theodor Lerner on board, re
turned in August to Hammerfest with
out having discovered any traces of
Andree's expedition. Some geographical
work has been accomplished in the
neighborhood of Kong Karls hand,
which, according to published state
ments, was round to consist of three
islands, viz.: Swedish foreland, Jena
Th« Saroe Force Made to Run Factories, Street Cars «r;d Electrtq
Lights in a City Miles Away.
Island, and a third lying in the centerj
which was named August Scherl, aftetf
the promoter of the expedition. This is
at variance with the account of Arnold
Pike, who, it will be remembered, main-}
tamed that there is but one island inj
addition to Swedish foreland, whicffl
last is not usually included under th«
name of Kong Karls Land. In spite oZ.
much ice and unfavorable weather, a
passage was forced by fhe Heligoland}
round the eastern coast of the islands,;
and a latitude of 81 degrees 32 minuteaj
reached, via the east coast of North-I
east Land, the pack ice then preventing]
further advance. Successful dredgin*
operations were carried out to the north)
and east in depths of over 600 fathom^
In August Scherl Island, the breeding
grounds of the ivory gull, were meft
Swedish Andres Search Expedition.
Quoting from the Aftonbladet oi
Stockholm, the Mouvement Geograph-j
ique (August 21) announced the arrivafl
of M. Stadllng, leader of the Andre*
search expedition, at the mouth of th«
Lena. The expedition had visited thai
New Siberian Islands, as also th«
neighborhood of the Anabara and Indi-j
girka rivers, without finding a trace o»
the missing explorer. M. Stadling was
about to proceed to the Taimyr Pen
insula, en route for the Yenesei. Thd
same paper also announced that tha
Norwegian navigator, M. Braekmoe.
had undertaken a journey to the Ne\*
Siberian Islands in order to find ou<
whether the provisions left by Baron
yon Toll remain intact, but from a re
cent telegram it would seem that ha
has returned without accomplishing
his object.
Lieutenant Peary's Expedition.
The steamer Hope, w.hich took coal
and other supplies northward for Lieu-*
tenant Peary's expedition, returned!
from Greenland at the end of August
having parted from the Windward a<
Port Foulke, at the entrance to Smith
Sound. Lieutenant Peary, writing to
us from Etah, August 13, states that
the season as far north as Cape Sabinq
is a late one; he was just starting fos
the attack on Kane Basin and tha
channel above. So far his plans had
progressed favorably. He had on
board ten picked Eskimo (five couples),
about sixty dogs, and the carcasses oi
sixty walrus.
Polar Exploration With Ice Breakers.
At a recent meeting of the Russian!
Geographical Society Admiral MakarofC
submitted a proposal of reaching th«
pole by means of powerful ice-breakers^
Steamers specially built for breaking;
the ice were first resorted to in Russia!
in 1864 by the engineer, Britneff, fon
breaking the ice at Kronstadt. Lateljj
ice-breakers have been very much im^
proved in the United States, where tha
happy idea of providing steamers ofl
that sort with twin screws at the stern,
and a third screw at the stem, has
proved to considerably increase theifl
breaking powers. More recently power-J
ful ice-breakers have been constructed
in the States and in England by Arm
strong for Russia, for transporting the
trains of the Siberian railway across
Lake Baikal, and for keeping the port
of Vladivostok clear of ice. Experli
ments were made with such steamers*
and altogether the theory of ice*
breakers was worked out. It appear^
that on the American lakes the ice-«
breaker Ste. Marie, 3000 horsepower,
armed with a screw at the stem, easily
makes her way through ice two and a
half feet thick, and pierces, when
necessary, ice walls fifteen to twent^
feet high; and Russian engineers have
calculated that, in order to sail through)
quite sound ice, twelve feet thick, an
ice-breaker of 52,000 horsepower would
be required.
Mr. Borchererinck's Expedition.
Mr. Borchgrevinck's Antartic expedi*
tlon sailed on August 22 on the Souths
em Cross, and its safe arrival at Sty
Vincent has since been announced.

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