I understand that Nikola Tesla proposed a
wireless transmission system that used electrical conduction instead of
radio waves. This method was put forth in his U.S. Patents No. 645,576 and 649,621
where he mentions a 15-mile high antenna wire. It seems to me that
the obstacles to building such an elevated structure would be insurmountable, as all existing materials would self-destruct from their own weight, although a fiber of carbon nanotubes might come close.
Add to this the shearing forces and whipping stresses by existing winds up to 80,000 ft. and no, the materials to build such "antennas" which did not exist in Tesla's time, still do not exist.
What could he have been thinking?
The reference to,
"maintaining terminals at elevations of fifteen miles or more
above the level of the sea" is followed by the following self-explanatory
Through my discoveries
before mentioned and the production of adequate means, the necessity
of maintaining terminals at such inaccessible altitudes is obviated .
Tesla expanded upon
this assertion in the 1916 interview.
I have read in some of your
writings that you went to Colorado to further experiment with certain
apparatus which you had tested to your own satisfaction at sea level. .
. . was that demonstration undertaken
in Colorado for the purpose of getting the higher altitude of the air?
No, it was nothing of the
kind. I simply went there because in Colorado my system of power
transmission was introduced. All around the plants in the
mountains, my three-phase system, and the induction motors were
employed. . . . I had friends there who were only too delighted to give
me all the power I wanted, and not charge anything for it. . . . My
experiments [on Houston Street] showed that at a height of 5 miles the
air was in conduction to transmit the energy in this way, but my
experiments in Colorado showed that at a height of 1 mile it is plenty
enough rarefied to break down under the stress and conduct the current
to the distant points.
I have to say here that when
I filed the applications of September 2, 1897, for the transmission of
energy in which this method was disclosed, it was already clear to me
that I did not need to have terminals at such high elevation, but I
never have, above my signature, announced anything that I did not prove
first. That is the reason why no statement of mine was ever
contradicted, and I do not think it will be, because whenever I publish
something I go through it first by experiment, then from experiment I
calculate, and when I have the theory and practice meet I announce the
At that time I was
absolutely sure that I could put up a commercial plant, if I could do
nothing else but what I had done in my laboratory on Houston Street; but
I had already calculated and found that I did not need great heights to
apply this method. My patent says that I break down the atmosphere
"at or near" the terminal. If my conducting atmosphere
is 2 or 3 miles above the plant, I consider this very near the terminal
as compared to the distance of my receiving terminal, which may be
across the Pacific. That is simply an expression. I saw that I
would be able to transmit power provided I could construct a certain
apparatus -- and I have, as I will show you later. I have
constructed and patented a form of apparatus which, with a moderate
elevation of a few hundred feet, can break the air stratum down.
You will then see something like an aurora borealis across the sky, and
the energy will go to the distant place. . . .
Also, if such a device did exist for global
wireless transmission, wouldn't it disrupt all existing wireless
radio-frequency communication systems worldwide?
Not necessarily. It is
the present 'Hertz-wave' system and Tesla's form of wireless transmission
co-exist, especially if international frequency
coordination were to be practiced.