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Tunguska A Tesla Connection?
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The Tunguska Explosion | Tesla FAQ No. 12


There are three N.Y. Times articles in which Tesla suggests the capacity of a Wardenclyffe-type plant * to transmit a destructive impulse of electrical energy. [1,2,3]  Presumably the effect would manifest itself as an explosive release of energy such as can be created by the discharge of a large value, high voltage capacitor. Electric fireballs, spherical plasmoids, or ball lightning have also been reported to explode in a similar fashion.

Tesla's 1899 investigations in the area of wireless propagation in Colorado, which involved the transmission of an electric wave complex of two or more superimposed frequencies, at times led to the production of the ball lightning phenomenon. [4]  Later work by present-day researchers lends support to Tesla's statements in this regard. [5]  There is some tenuous evidence that suggests he was producing the fireball effect prior to 1899 in New York. [6,7]  Another bit of circumstantial evidence that has been cited is the sky glow that was reported around the time of the Tunguska event. [8,9]  There has also been speculation that in the 1970's the Soviet Union performed tests of a Tesla-type system purported to have the capacity to create distant "cold explosions." [10

There are two other devices in addition to the magnifying transmitter that relate to this discussion.  The first, called the "telautomaton," was a remote controlled boat that Tesla offered to the U.S. Navy for the purpose of carrying explosives to naval targets.  An airborne version of this device was under development as well.  This is the "wireless torpedo spoken of in the 1907 N.Y. Times article. [1]  Statements to the effect that the energy could be projected "without the use of aerial engines" remove this "destructive terror" from the picture.

The second is the 1930's particle beam projector [11] which was based upon an open ended vacuum tube and comprised a system for the acceleration of a single row of minute charged metallic particles to very high velocity.  It was stated there would be no dispersion whatever, even at great distance.  Since the cross section of the carriers might be reduced to almost microscopic dimensions, a great concentration of energy could be achieved.  It has been suggested that a particle beam was somehow involved in the Tunguska event [12], but considering the 1908 time frame this is an unlikely scenario. 


[1] TESLA'S WIRELESS TORPEDO, New York Times, March 19, 1907

[2] MR. TESLA'S VISION, New York Times, April 21, 1908, p. 5, col. 6.

[3] TESLA'S NEW DEVICE LIKE BOLTS OF THOR, New York Times, Dec. 8, 1915, p. 8, col. 3

[4] Colorado Springs Notes: 1899-1900, Nikola Tesla, Aleksandar Marincic, Editor, Nolit, Belgrade, 1978, pp. 111, 330-333, 368-370, 372, 379-384, 431-433.

[5] "Fireballs, Fractals and Colorado Springs: A Rediscovery of Tesla's RF Techniques," by J.F. Corum, K.L. Corum, Proceedings of the 1990 Tesla Symposium.

[6] "The New Wizard of the West," Chauncey Montgomery M'Govern, Pearson's Magazine, London, May 1899.

[7] Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney, Dell, 1983, pp. 3-4.

[8] Royal Meteorological Society Quarterly, Spenser Russell, 1930.

[9] The Fire Came By, John Baxter & Thomas Atkins, Warner Books, 1977, p. 27.

[10] Star Wars Now, T.E. Beardon, Tesla Book Company, 1984.

"Tesla Tries to Prevent World War II," unpublished chapter from Prodigal Genius, Chapter 34

[12] "Tesla's Wireless Power Transmitter and the Tunguska Explosion of 1908," Oliver Nichelson, 1993.


New York Times, March 19, 1907

Inventor Says He Did Show That It Worked Perfectly

To the Editor of The New York Times:
A report in the Times of this morning says that I have attained no practical results with my dirigible wireless torpedo. I have constructed such machines, and shown them in operation on frequent occasions. They have worked perfectly and everybody who saw them was amazed at their performance.

It is true that my efforts to have this novel means for attack and defense adopted by our Government have been unsuccessful, but this is no discredit to my invention. I have spent years in fruitless endeavor before the world recognized the value of my rotating field discoveries which are now universally applied. The time is not yet ripe for the telautomatic art. If its possibilities were appreciated the nations would not be building large battleships. Such a floating fortress may be safe against an ordinary torpedo, but would be helpless in a battle with a machine which carries twenty tons of explosive, moves swiftly underwater, and is controlled with precision by an operator beyond the range of the largest gun.

As to projecting wave-energy to any particular region of the globe, I have given a clear description of the means in technical publications. Not only can this be done by the means of my devices, but the spot at which the desired effect is to be produced can be calculated very closely, assuming the accepted terrestrial measurements to be correct. This, of course, is not the case. Up to this day we do not know a diameter of the globe within one thousand feet. My wireless plant will enable me to determine it within fifty feet or less, when it will be possible to rectify many geodetical data and make such calculations as those referred to with greater accuracy.

New York, March 19, 1907


New York Times, April 21, 1908, p. 5, col. 6.

How the Electrician's Lamp of Aladdin May Construct New Worlds.

To the Editor of the New York Times:

From a report in your issue of March 11, which escaped my attention, I notice that some remarks I made on the occasion referred to have been misunderstood. Allow me to make a correction.

When I spoke of future warfare I meant that it should be conducted by direct application of electrical waves without the use of aerial engines or other implements of destruction. This means, as I pointed out, would be ideal, for not only would the energy of war require no effort for the maintenance of its potentiality, but it would be productive in times of peace. This is not a dream. Even now wireless power plants could be constructed by which any region of the globe might be rendered uninhabitable without subjecting the population of other parts to serious danger or inconvenience.

What I said in regard to the greatest achievement of the man of science whose mind is bent upon the mastery of the physical universe, was nothing more than what I stated in one of my unpublished addresses, from which I quote: "According to an adopted theory, every ponderable atom is differentiated from a tenuous fluid, filling all space merely by spinning motion, as a whirl of water in a calm lake. By being set in movement this fluid, the ether, becomes gross matter. Its movement arrested, the primary substance reverts to its normal state. It appears, then, possible for man through harnessed energy of the medium and suitable agencies for starting and stopping ether whirls to cause matter to form and disappear. At his command, almost without effort on his part, old worlds would vanish and new ones would spring into being. He could alter the size of this planet, control its seasons, adjust its distance from the sun, guide it on its eternal journey along any path he might choose, through the depths of the universe. He could make planets collide and produce his suns and stars, his heat and light; he could originate life in all its infinite forms. To cause at will the birth and death of matter would be man's grandest deed, which would give him the mastery of physical creation, make him fulfill his ultimate destiny."

Nothing could be further from my thought than to call wireless telephony around the world "the greatest achievement of humanity" as reported. This is a feat which, however stupefying, can be readily performed by any expert. I have myself constructed a plant for this very purpose. The wireless wonders are only seeming, not results of exceptional skill, as popularly believed. The truth is the electrician has been put in possession of a veritable lamp of Aladdin. All he has to do is to rub it. Now, to rub the lamp of Aladdin is no achievement.

If you are desirous of hastening the accomplishment of still greater and further reaching wonders you can do no better than by emphatically opposing any measure tending to interfere with the free commercial exploitation of water power and the wireless art. So absolutely does human progress depend on the development of these that the smallest impediment, particularly through the legislative bodies of this country, may set back civilization and the cause of peace for centuries.

Nikola Tesla
New York, April 19, 1908


The Electrical Engineer - London
Dec. 24, 1909, p. 893


Mr. Nikola Tesla has announced that as the result of experiments conducted at Shoreham, Long Island, he has perfected a new system of wireless telegraphy and telephony in which the principles of transmission are the direct opposite of Hertzian wave transmission.  In the latter, he says, the transmission is effected by rays akin to light, which pass through the air and cannot be transmitted through the ground, while in the former the Hertz waves are practically suppressed and the entire energy of the current is transmitted through the ground exactly as though a big wire.  Mr. Tesla adds that in his experiments in Colorado it was shown that a very powerful current developed by the transmitter traversed the entire globe and returned to its origin in an interval of 84 one-thousandths of a second, this journey of 24,000 miles being effected almost without loss of energy.


New York Times, Dec. 8, 1915, p. 8, col. 3

He Seeks to Patent Wireless Engine for Destroying Navies by Pulling a Lever.
To Shatter Armies Also.
"Impractical," He says of Westerner's Plan to Circle Country with Electric Fire.

Nikola Tesla, the inventor, winner of the 1915 Nobel Physics Prize, has filed patent applications on the essential parts of a machine the possibilities of which test a layman's imagination and promise a parallel of Thor's shouting thunderbolts from the sky to punish those who angered the gods. Dr. Tesla insists there is nothing sensational about it, that it is but the fruition of many years of work and study. He is not yet ready to give the details of the engine which he says will render fruitless any military expedition against a country which possesses it. Suffice to say that the destructive invention will go through space with a speed of 300 miles a second, and manless airship without propelling engine or wings, sent by electricity to any desired point on the globe on its errand of destruction, if destruction its manipulator wishes to effect.

Ten miles or a thousand miles, it will be all the same to the machine, the inventor says. Straight to the point, on land or on sea, it will be able to go with precision, delivering a blow that will paralyze or kill, as is desired. A man in a tower on Long Island could shield New York against ships or army by working a lever, if the inventor's anticipations become realizations.

"It is not the time," said Dr. Tesla yesterday, "to go into the details of this thing. It is founded on a principle that means great things in peace, it can be used for great things in war. But I repeat, this is no time to talk of such things."

"It is perfectly practicable to transmit electrical energy without wires and produce destructive effects at a distance. I have already constructed a wireless transmitter which makes this possible, and have described it in my technical publications, among which I may refer to my patent 1,119,732 [*] recently granted. With transmitters of this kind we are enabled to project electrical energy in any amount to any distance and apply it for innumerable purposes, both in peace and war. Through the universal adoption of this system, ideal conditions for the maintenance of law and order will be realized, for then the energy necessary to the enforcement of right and justice will be normally productive, yet potential, and in any moment available, for attack and defense. The power transmitted need not be necessarily destructive, for, if existence is made to depend upon it, its withdrawal or supply will bring about the same results as those now accomplished by force of arms.

"But when unavoidable, the same agent may be used to destroy property and life. The art is already so far developed that great destructive effects can be produced at any point on the globe, determined beforehand and with great accuracy. In view of this I have not thought it hazardous to predict a few years ago that the wars of the future will not be waged with explosives but with electrical means."

Dr. Tesla then said that it would be possible with his wireless mechanism to direct an ordinary aeroplane, manless, to any point over a ship or an army, and to discharge explosives of great strength from the base of operations.

Asked to express an opinion upon the announcement last Sunday of Charles H. Harris, and electrical engineer of Los Angeles, that he would be able to surround this country with an electrical wall of fire in time of war, Dr. Tesla gave it as his opinion that Mr. Harris was not practical.

"It is hard to stamp as impossible such results as those described in the press dispatches to which you refer. Granted, however, that the project is feasible, it would take more than all the motive power obtainable in the United States to throw a wall of fire around the country. In fact, even the passage of small currents at considerable distances through air consumes a great deal of energy on account of the immense pressure required. So, for instance, in lightening discharges, energy may be delivered at the rated of billions of horsepower, though the currents are of smaller volume than those developed by electrical generators in our power houses." 



Tesla Tries to Prevent World War II
Unpublished chapter from Prodigal Genius
Chapter 34

When Tesla was talking as a scientist he was opposed to wars on moral, economic and all practical and theoretical grounds. But like most scientists, when he stopped thinking as a scientist, and let his emotions rule his thoughts, he found exceptions in which he felt some wars and situations were justifiable.  As a scientist he was unwilling to have the discoveries of scientists applied to the purposes of war makers, but when in the emotional phase of his nature took the ruling position he was then willing to apply his genius to devising measures that would prevent wars by supplying protective devices. 

This attitude is exemplified in the following statement which he prepared in the twenties but did not publish:

"At present many of the ablest minds are trying to devise expedients for preventing a repetition of the awful conflict which is only theoretically ended and the duration and main issues of which I correctly predicted in an article printed in the Sun of December 20, 1914.  The League is not a remedy but, on the contrary, in the opinion of a number of competent men, may bring about results just the opposite.  It is particularly regrettable that a punitive policy was adopted in framing the terms of peace because a few years hence it will be possible for nations to fight without armies, ships or guns, by weapons far more terrible, to the destructive action and range of which there is virtually no limit.  Any city at any distance whatsoever from the enemy can be destroyed by him and no power on earth can stop him from doing so.  If we want to avert an impending calamity and a state of things which may transform this globe into an inferno, we should push the development of flying machines and wireless transmission of energy without an instant's delay and with all the power and resources of the nation."

Tesla saw preventative possibilities in his new invention which embodied "death ray" characteristics and which was made several years after the foregoing statement was written.  He saw it providing a curtain of protection which any country, no matter how small, could use as a protection against invasion.  While he might offer it as a defensive weapon, however, there would be nothing to stop military men from using it as a weapon of offense.

While I did not know the nature of Tesla's plan I was convinced that it did embody many discoveries that would be of commercial value, and these were the angles he should seek to develop.  I felt that if he could be induced to develop some minor phase of his work that would have immediate commercial use he could derive an income from it which would enable him to proceed with his more elaborate plans.  To this end I sought to gain some insight into his thoughts, that would enable me to get a practical plan into operation.  This was no secret to Tesla and he successfully parried every thrust I made.

The clearest conception I got, and that was largely from scattered remarks, and by making deductions from them, concerned a possible manner in which one phase of his curtain of protection might operate.  This was a "war" angle and as such it did not interest me, but since it involved "lightning balls," or "fireballs," I was very curious.  Fireballs had always fascinated me, and I had read everything I could lay my hands on about them.

A fireball is a strange phenomenon associated with lightning.  Some of the energy of the lightning stroke appears to become locked into a ball shaped structure which may be of any size from a couple of inches to a foot in diameter.  It looks like a perfect sphere, brightly incandescent and floats like a bubble, being easily carried by air currents.  They may last for a short time, from a fraction of a second to many seconds.  In this interval, during which they stay fairly close to the ground, they may come close to many objects without damaging them or being damaged by them.  Suddenly, for no known reason, the ball explodes doing as much damage as a bomb, if close to structures, and no damage if in the open.

The fireball looked to me like a gigantically enlarged model of the tiny electron, one of the building blocks of matter, which acts as if it were just a spherical area of space in which an amount of energy was crystallized to give it structure.  I felt that if it were possible to discover how a large amount of energy was stored in this fairy bubble structure of a fireball a new insight might be gained into the structure of the electron and other fundamental particles of matter.  Also this method of storing energy could be applied to a thousand useful purposes.

When I approached Tesla with pleas along this line to develop this possible phase of his discovery he would evade direct reply by indulging in a, not always, tolerant lecture on my gullibility in believing theories about the complex structure of the atom.  While he had in earlier years discussed some of his experiences with fireballs in his laboratory at Colorado Springs and explained his theory of their formation, he would not in later years permit himself to be drawn into a discussion of them as a possible part of his system.  This, of course, made me suspicious that the clue was "hot" but I could be completely wrong in my conclusions.  Tesla was very quick in detecting my technique when I sought to narrow the field down by trying to get him to deny statements when he was adamant to direct questions.

Tesla became familiar with the destructive characteristics of fireballs in his experiments at Colorado Springs in 1899.  He produced them quite by accident and saw them, more than once, explode and shatter his tall mast and also destroy apparatus within his laboratory.  The destructive action accompanying the disintegration of a fireball, he declared, takes place with inconceivable violence. 

He studied the process by which they were produced, not because he wanted to produce them but in order to eliminate the conditions in which they were created.  It is not pleasant, he related, to have fireballs explode in your vicinity for they will destroy anything they come in contact with.

It will be necessary to reconstruct his statements from very fragmentary notes and a long distance memory.

Parasitic oscillations, or circuits, within the main circuit were a source of danger from this cause.  Points of resistance in the main circuits could result in minor oscillating circuits between terminals or between two points of resistance and these minor circuits would have a very much higher period of oscillation than the main circuit and could be set into oscillation by the main current of lower frequency.

Even when the principle oscillating circuit was adjusted for the greatest efficiency of operation by the diminution of all sources of losses the fireballs continued to occur but these were due to stray high frequency charges from random earth currents.

From these experiences it became apparent that the fireballs resulted from the interaction of two frequencies, a stray higher frequency wave imposed on the lower frequency free oscillations of the main circuit.

As the free oscillation of the main circuit builds up from the zero point to the quarter wave length node it passes through various rates of change. In a current of shorter wavelength the rates of change will be steeper.  When the two currents react on each other the resultant complex will contain a wave in which there is an extremely steep rate of change, and for the briefest instant currents may move at a tremendous rate, at the rate of millions of horsepower.

This condition acts as a trigger which may cause the total energy of the powerful longer wave to be discharged in an infinitesimally small interval of time and at a proportionally tremendously great rate of energy movement which cannot confine itself to the metal circuit and is released into surrounding space with inconceivable violence.

It is but a step, from learning how a high frequency current can explosively discharge a lower frequency current, to using the principle to design a system in which these explosions can be produced by intent. The following process appears a possible one but no evidence is available that it is the one Tesla evolved: An oscillator, such as he used to send power wirelessly around the earth at Colorado Springs, is set in operation at a frequency to which a given warship is resonant.  The complex structure of a ship would provide a great number of spots in which electrical oscillations will be set up of a much higher frequency than those coursing through the ship as a whole.  These parasite currents will react on the main current causing the production of fireballs which by their explosions will destroy the ship, even more effectively than the explosion of the magazine which would also take place.  A second oscillator may be used to transmit the shorter wavelength current.

Somewhat later I learned the reason for Tesla's reticence to discuss the details.  This came shortly after Stanley Baldwin replaced Neville Chamberlin as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Tesla revealed that he had carried on negotiations with Prime Minister Chamberlin for the sale of his ray system to Great Britain for $30,000,000 on the basis of his presentation that the device would provide complete protection for the British Isles against any enemy approaching by sea or air, and would provide an offensive weapon to which there was no defense.  He was convinced, he declared, of the sincerity of Mr. Chamberlin and his intent to adopt the device as it would have prevented the outbreak of the then threatening war, and would have made possible the continuation - under the duress which this weapon would have made possible - of the working agreement involving France, Germany and Britain to maintain the status quo in Europe.  When Chamberlin failed, at the Munich conference, to retain this state of European equilibrium it was necessary to get rid of Chamberlin and install a new Prime Minister who could make the effort to shift one corner of the triangle from Germany to Russia. Baldwin found no virtue in Tesla's plan and preemptorially ended negotiations.

Tesla was greatly disappointed by the collapse of his negotiations with the British Government.  With it there collapsed his hopes of providing a demonstration of his most recent, and, what he considered, his most important discoveries.  He did not, however, dwell on the subject; beyond the single conversation he did not mention the matter again.  He did not get another chance to finance the demonstration of these discoveries.

During the period in which the negotiations were being carried on, Tesla declared, efforts had been made to steal the invention.  His room had been entered and his papers examined but the thieves, or spies, left empty handed.  There was no danger, he said, that his invention could be stolen for he had at no time committed any part of it to paper.  He could trust his memory to preserve every fine detail of his investigations.  This was true, he said, of all of his later major discoveries.

The nature of his system makes little difference now; he has gone and has taken it with him.  Perhaps, if there is any communication from beyond the veil that separates this life from whatever exists hereafter, Tesla may look down upon earth's struggling mortals and find some way of dropping a hint concerning what he accomplished; but, if the situation is such that this cannot take place, then we must await until the human race produces another Tesla.

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