Nikola Tesla

  1. Hello to all! I have but 1 simple question: Has the secret of Nikola Tesla's ability to run a car on power from "the ethos" ever been revealed? Was it a permanent magnet motor the didn't need an external power source? I can see all the skeptics eyebrows being raised as we speak regarding "perpetual motion", but since he was not regarded as a charlatan or fraud, isn't that exactly what he did?? Thank you in advance for all replies!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Tesla was no fraud, but people have attached all kinds of crackpot nonsense to him because he is somewhat mysterious.

  4. Compare "Ether" to "Quantum Vacuum" for some interesting similarities.

    Tesla was using a theory of electro-magnetism that is different than the popular academic one that we are familiar with. Are we all familiar with the idea that Herzt left half the equations unsolved?

    "All kinds of crackpot nonsense" from both sides of the debate come from a misunderstanding of how to use language. Is it possible that Kierkegaard's notion of "the acceptance of objective uncertainty" seems vital to a more open scientific research?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2009
  5. Integral

    Integral 7,288
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    Could you provide a link to peer reviewed journel which backs up this claim? To the best of my knowledge Tesla did nothing that cannot be explained by Maxwells Equations.
    So you believe that noone has done anything with Maxwells Equations since Hertz? Perhaps you need to take a Universtiy course in E&M.
    The language most crackpots do not understand is Mathematics.
  6. RonL

    RonL 901
    Gold Member

    Nikola Tesla, is my number one hero from history, I believe if he and Edison had been able to get along, and if he had worked with Charles E Tripler, for just a short time, there would be no fuel problems of any sort.
    As for his electric car, I have seen no evidence of anything special that got buried in time.

    As for him becoming a recluse, I think I understand his frustration at explaining far out thoughts that became misinterpeted by people that had not much imagination in the areas he loved.

    If you look at the money that went through his hands for the times, only poor business management caused him to die in poverty.:frown:

  7. I read a biography on him many years ago and yes, he was a mysterious person. But that was what made him so interesting. Some of his ideas changed the world, and some of them seemed almost crackpot. I think there are a couple of his public demonstrations that have never been duplicated.
  8. RonL

    RonL 901
    Gold Member

  9. About 90% of the stuff writting about Tesla is made up non sense. I have no idea how all the worthless information every became available. If you become a member of the Tesla Coil forum those guys can stear you in the correct direction on information that is TRUE and it works. We have several 1000 members.

    To become a TC member send an email to, put the word subscribe in the subject line and the body. Only 1 word in each line that is all. You will be a memeber in about 24 hours.

    Are you related to Glen Schwartz in Mt Carmel Illinois?
  10. HallsofIvy

    HallsofIvy 41,265
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    For a "number one hero" you don't seem to know much about him. He was never a "recluse" and he did not die in poverty! In 1917, 26 years before his death, he was awarded the "Edison medal" considered, at the time, the most prestigious award for electrical science- ironic considering the feud between him and Edison. Even more ironic, today it is the "Tesla medal" that is today considered most prestigious. He gave lavish dinner parties at the Hotel New Yorker where he lived for the last 20 years of his life.

    As for his "ethos", he was essentially talking about electro-magnetic fields- arguing that energy can be transmitted through such fields. Well, it can- that's what radio is (and part of Marconi's work was based on his) but the problem is that "1/r2" drop off. When you transmit power, you waste a heck of a lot of it. Tesla did one demonstration in which he lit up electric lights at a distance of 25 miles, wirelessly, but he had to generate and enormous amount of power, most of which was wasted, being transmitted off where there were no recievers. Microwaves are a bit more "aimable" but, still, electrical engineering is known as "power engineering" and electronic engineering is known as "signal engineering".
  11. RonL

    RonL 901
    Gold Member

    I might need to revisit the remark about him being a recluse, he did go out, but feeding pigeons became his biggest pastime in his last days. He did die impoverished at the age of 86.

    I'll check the books I have, but it appears you might need a little quick read about his life as well.
    Overall my statement stands, and only in the last 20 years, has his life works been brought to the attention of mainstream recognition.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  12. Is it true that he tried to make a tower that would give people wireless power? and if so, wouldn't it waste a lot of energy? Or am I thinking of something else?
  13. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,809
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    He thought he could efficiently transmit power using a resonant frequency of the Earth. He was wrong - it looks like he made a few mistakes and his data for the existence of long range waves in the Earth was based on some faulty experiments with lightning.
    He never actually demonstrated efficiently coupled power transmission.
    You can (reasonably) efficiently transfer power inductively, but only on distances about equal to the size of the transmitter/receiver - which is great for electric toothbrushes but doesn't replace power lines.
    There are a few experiments that have managed tuned systems that can go a bit further. Confusingly there is also a Tesla effect that is used in these systems, but wasn't used by Tesla.
  14. You're probably thinking of Wardenclyffe Tower. Just google Tesla Tower. And yes, it would waste a lot of energy. I think the main reason for the construction of Wardenclyffe Tower was for telecommunications, but wireless power transmission was Tesla's dream.
  15. Having recently read his biography, I'm fairly certian he did in fact, die impoverished. He had a hotel bill unpaid at the time of his death as I remember. But he did also have millions of dollars run through his hands during his life. Tesla, while an absolute scientific genius and whom I believe to be the most influential person in history, had very little financial sense, coupled with poor comprehension of the greed of man. For example, he willingly signed over all his AC polyphase patents to Westinghouse for way less than what they were worth or had already earned for Nic, just by good ol George asking him to. I think the original deal was for something like $.05/hp of power created from the AC system. Which would have made Tesla the Richest man in the World in a decades time. George later told him that he could not pay what was owed and could not aquire new financial backing with that contract in effect. Westinghouse was himself in financial trouble at the time and so he asked Tesla if he would absolve the debt and sell him the patents out right for somewhere between $50k and $100k(debated) with no per/hp clause. Tesla agreed in the hopes of gaining more funding from GW for future projects. One of his greatest dreams aside from becoming a US citizen was to become a millionare, which he never did due to savvy biz decisions like this one.....

    Now I could be very ignorant to the actual physics but I believe that Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower and the car were meant to operate with "non-hertizean" or "standing" or "scalar" waves that did not have the same inverse square drop off. I'm not really sure what the differences are, it's just what I've read. Is this part verifiable by anyone? Sorry for not being able to back up my own thoughts, I'm pretty new to Physics.
  16. Born2bwire

    Born2bwire 1,776
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    Gold Member

    One thing people need to keep in mind is that Tesla lived and researched during the infancy of electromagnetism. We have researching classical electromagnetics for around 130 years or so, but Tesla was working on them in the beginning. Maxwell developed the full equations in the 1870's or so. Hertz demonstrated the existence of electromagnetic waves via experiment in the 1880's. Marconni demonstrated the ability for long range electromagnetic communication in the 1900's.

    So a lot of what Tesla was doing was at the forefront of a new field. So a lot of his ideas proved to be revolutionary but many of them would never work. It is not really his fault since he was one of the pioneers at the time. For some reason though, people seem to assign to him all sorts of absolute garbage when it comes to his research and abilities. Wireless power transmission? We know now that it is not a feasible means of transmission due to the long history of research into antennas. But we do use it to charge the batteries for low power devices using near field antennas, like medical implants. Death ray? Death rays were being researched by several people in the 30's and 40's (Japanese are one that spring to mind) because of the recently invented microwave generators. It quickly became apparent that they were not feasible although today we have a similar device with the Active Denial System. Free energy from the ethos? What the hell does that even mean? Back then, the ether model was still popular but we now know that it is not a correct model.

    Seriously, the theory behind electromagnetics has been complete for over 130 years. It is silly to think that Tesla somehow had special insight into it that hasn't already been revisited since then.
  17. I have been on the Tesla Coil Forum for going on 9 years. This type of stuff comes up on the forum all the time when new folks bring it up all the time. Most of what you read about Tesla is non sense. News reporters were like the National Inquire they just made crap up. I don't keep up with what is true and false that is not my thing. I do know Tesla was flat broke and couldn't get anymore money from supporters that is why he sold to Westinghouse. Tesla never light up any light bulbs at a distance of 25 miles without wires. Marconni stole one of Tesla's ideas and developed it and got a patent before Tesla applied for the patent. Edison wanted to use DC to power cities and Tesla proved AC was better, Edison lost a big contract to Tesla and the fued began. Tesla never made a spark longer than 25 ft. Tesla was the MAD SCIENTIST of his time, anytime a rumor surfaced Tesla got credit for it.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
  18. Gerry Vassilatos points out in Secrets of Cold War Technology that the Tesla Transformer is not an "electrical" device in the way commonly understood. Much of the criticism in this thread fails to recognize that Tesla was working with an impulse apparatus designed to use radiant shockwaves to produce pure voltage without current.

    Both Sir Oliver Lodge and Nikola Tesla subscribed to an Ether Theory of Electrodynamics. While this is another can of worms...these are the worms needed to catch the elusive fish that Tesla and Lodge were gaming for. The model of the Quantum Vacuum as applied by Free Energy researchers like Tom Bearden is closer to the Ether Theory used by Tesla in his discoveries.

    There are substantial differences from what is taught in modern university and the working model that Tesla and Lodge were using. It is this fact that should slow us down and open our minds to new possibilities.
  19. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Why? As has been pointed out several times, EM research has progressed far beyond Tesla's understanding in the 65 years since he died. Going backwards is not a way to go forwards.
  20. Born2bwire

    Born2bwire 1,776
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    Gold Member

    In no way is ether theory like the quantum vacuum. The quantum vacuum is still a vacuum, devoid of real photons and matter. Ether was thought of a medium that propagated the electromagnetic wave and comes with all the consequences of a physical medium. Ideas like ether drag and such are examples of experimentally debunked properties of said ether. The fact that Tesla would work assuming an ether strongly suggests that he was still caught up in the thinking of very early electromagnetics. It should not be any surprise then that he would seriously research topics and ideas that would prove unfeasible and ridiculous by modern standards simply because we have the hindsight of many many years of research and experimentation. Carnot subscribed to the idea of calorics as being massless particles that mediated the transfer of heat. The idea is of course very wrong but he was still able to produce his ideal Carnot engine that is still a very fundamental building block of modern thermodynamic theory. You can find many ideas and theories from many of history's prominent scientists that are wrong by modern theory and experiments. Why should Tesla be any different?
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