Earth Resonance

Among the appealing features of Colorado Springs for Tesla were the region's frequent and sensational electrical storms. For Tesla, lightning was a joyous phenomenon. Biographers report that, during storms back East, Tesla would throw open the windows of his New York lab and recline on a couch for the duration, muttering to himself ecstatically. In Colorado Springs he tuned in and tracked lightning storms using rudimentary radio receiving equipment. He thereby determined that lightning was a vibratory phenomenon, which set up standing waves bouncing within the earth at a frequency resonantly compatible with the earth's electrical capacity. This earth-resonant frequency, he reasoned, was the ideal frequency for wireless power transmission, and he tuned his ultimate magnifying transmitter accordingly.

The literature contains various reports on exactly what this frequency is. Some say 150 kilocycles, which would be at the upper range of the Colorado Springs transmitter. Others give frequencies considerably lower, 11.78 cycles, 6.8 cycles, frequencies Tesla's transmitter may have achieved harmonically. With reinforcement from the earth resonance, the power would actually increase in the process of transmission.

In one memorable experiment with the Colorado Springs transmitter, Tesla shot from the antenna ball veritable lightning bolts of 135 feet, producing thunder heard 15 miles distant, and, in the process, pulled so many amperes that he burned out the municipal generator. In another experiment he lit up wirelessly, at a distance of 26 miles from the lab, a bank of 10,000 watts worth of incandescent bulbs. Two years after Colorado Springs, Tesla applied for patent for the far more refined magnifying transmitter shown at the opening of this chapter, a patent that was not granted until a dozen years later.

In this patent he no longer speaks of energy broadcast through the upper strata of the atmosphere but of a grounded resonant circuit. Tesla predicted that his magnifying transmitter would prove most important and valuable to future generations, that it would bring about an industrial revolution and make possible great humanitarian achievements. Instead, as we shall see, the magnifying transmitter became Tesla's Waterloo.

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