By Edward Marshall


Syracuse Herald, ca. February 29, 1920


. . . “As time goes on we may find the harnessing of the sun’s rays less objectionable, especially as great improvements are possible in the methods and devices so far employed. . . . “wind power is not to be distained” . . . “terrestrial heat, on an immense scale appears quite feasible and there is a strong probability that at a time not too distant projects will be seriously undertaken. . . .”

Water Power Ideal

"In most of the processes of transformation we are confronted with appalling waste and definite limits exist to improvements aiming at economy.  No amount of ingenuity can ever circumvent the natural laws imposing these restrictions.

"Water power is a remarkable exception in this respect.  In hydraulic development the wheel can have an efficiency of 85 and the dynamo can have an efficiency of 98 per cent. so that the combined efficiency is over 83 per cent. that is to say, we are enabled in this way usefully to apply almost the entire energy furnished by the sun.

"Not only this but the apparatus is simple, well-nigh indestructible, and requires virtually no attention.

"Unfortunately this source of power supply is not adequate to meet all our needs, although the theoretical energy of falling water is, so to speak, unlimited.  Assuming for the rain clouds an average height of 15,000 feet and an annual precipitation of 33 inches, the power over the whole area of the United States amounts to more than twelve billion horsepower but a large portion of the potential energy is transformed into heat by friction of the rain drops against the air so that the actual mechanical energy is much smaller.

"Most of the water comes from a height of something like 2,000 feet, and all in all represents over one-half a billion horsepower, but in the form of available waterpower we cannot obtain more than a fall of 100 feet, so that by harnessing all the falls in the United States not more than eighty million horsepower can be developed.

"So far we have harnessed approximately 8,000,000 horsepower in this country, thus effecting a saving equivalent to nearly one-third of the entire coal mined.  By extensive damming the power derived can be greatly increased, possibly to several hundred million horsepower, giving us more power by far than we have now with all our coal.  But this is not the limit.

On the Eve of Great Feats.

"We are on the eve of accomplishments which will be of tremendous consequence to the future advancement of the human race.  One of these is the control of the precipitation of moisture.

"The water is evaporated and thus raised against the force of gravity.  It is then held in suspension in the vapor which we call clouds.  Air currents carry this vapor, hither and yon, often to distant regions, where it may remain for long periods at a height, in a state of delicate suspension.

"When the equilibrium is disturbed the water falls to earth [in the] form of rain and through rills and rivers flows back to the ocean.

"Thus the sun, those heat causes the evaporation, even maintains this life sustaining stream.  The energy necessary to cause the precipitation of the rain, compared to that rain's potential energy when released, is like that of the spark setting off a charge of dynamite compared to the dynamite.

"If this part of the natural process were under the control of man he could transform the entire globe.

"Many schemes have been proposed to this end, none of which have knowledge offering the remotest chance of success.

"But I have ascertained that with proper apparatus this wonder can be performed.

"Any amount of power will then be at our disposal; we can make out of deserts fertile land and create lakes and rivers almost without effort on our part.

"However our triumph would not be complete if the power could not be conveyed to distances without limit.  This achievement, to, is now within our reach.  With my wireless system it is practicable to transmit electrical energy over a distance of 12,000 miles with a loss not exceeding 5 per cent.  I can conceive of no advances which would be more desirable at this time and be more beneficial to the further progress of mankind."

— (Copyright by Edward Marshall Syndicate, Inc.)