So what if google forgot to put a doodle on Tesla’s birthday, I will celebrate it by sharing a story with you, about Tesla’s shattered dream project. Tesla, the “mad scientist” as most called him, is famous for his breathtaking revolution in electrical engineering. The most famous of all being alternating current electrical supply sytems. But, the project which was most dear to him and could revolutionize the world then, never even got completed. It was the “First World Wireless System”. An idea to connect the entire globe through an earth-sky circuit and bring electricity to any point of your choice, ocean or mountains! Tesla envisioned the possibility of something that has become indispensable for us today and before we proceed ahead, lets just thank him. In the 1890’s Tesla demonstrated the proof of concept for producing wireless energy by tapping on both earth’s and ionosphere’s conductivity. No one would doubt Tesla and investors started approaching him for funding the project. Amongst them, the most notable investor was J.P. Morgan. Together they decided, Morgan and Tesla, to build Wardenclyffe Tower for transmission of wireless energy across oceans. The impact of this project was huge and no one but Tesla could have summed it up in the best way:
“As soon as completed, it will be possible for a business man in New York to dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up, from his desk, and talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe, without any change whatever in the existing equipment. An inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch, will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or song, the speech of a political leader, the address of an eminent man of science, or the sermon of an eloquent clergyman, delivered in some other place, however distant. In the same manner any picture, character, drawing, or print can be transferred from one to another place. Millions of such instruments can be operated from but one plant of this kind. More important than all of this, however, will be the transmission of power, without wires, which will be shown on a scale large enough to carry conviction.”
But, here is what went wrong. Marconi, yet another stalwart in electrical engineering, invented the first inter atlantic telegraph signal during the same time while the tower was being constructed. The scale and scope of Marconi’s project was far lesser than what Tesla had envisaged, however, the attraction was that the project was not expensive at all. J.P. Morgan did not share a long term vision as Tesla and he got skeptical about future funding of Tesla’s project. He thought it was rather more economical to indulge in low cost technology. Tesla’s patent had expired by now and he was literally in a financial debt, unable to run his laboratory anymore. Morgan stopped the funding completely and no one else showed interest in this project anymore. Tesla had do put an end to his brain child. Here is what he said about the same,
“It is not a dream, it is a simple feat of scientific electrical engineering, only expensive — blind, faint-hearted, doubting world! […] Humanity is not yet sufficiently advanced to be willingly led by the discoverer’s keen searching sense. But who knows? Perhaps it is better in this present world of ours that a revolutionary idea or invention instead of being helped and patted, be hampered and ill-treated in its adolescence — by want of means, by selfish interest, pedantry, stupidity and ignorance; that it be attacked and stifled; that it pass through bitter trials and tribulations, through the strife of commercial existence. So do we get our light. So all that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combatted, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.”
In 1917, during World War 1, the Wardenclyffe Tower was demolished with dynamites as the US government thought it could be used as a landmark by German Submarines. All this happened while Tesla was alive. For all obvious reasons, he was shattered. Though, that did not hold him back from inventing. He laid the foundation for what is today established as the RADAR Technology! What a Guy!
Today, many years after he has died, we are living his dream. He knew this had to happen, if not today, then tomorrow. The least we all can do, is wish him Happy Birthday! 🙂