Wireless power

The drawing for Tesla's wireless power patent looks like the earlier power-by-wire patent except now spherical antennas replace the transmission lines, which are dropped out of the picture almost as if they were redundant. The ball antenna is peculiarly Tesla, as is the toroid, and you wonder why nothing like them have appeared since. In this 1900 patent, wireless power is not represented as an earth-resonant system. Here Tesla talks about transmission through elevated strata. The patent contains much discussion of how rarefied gases in the upper atmosphere became quite conductive when there is applied many hundred thousand or millions of volts. Balloons are suggested to send the antennas aloft. Appreciate that Tesla in this patent has invented nothing less than the principles of radio.

Tesla recognizes only a quantitative difference between sending radio signals and broadcasting electric power. Both involve sending and receiving stations tuned to one another by means of Tesla coil circuits. Tesla's wireless power would be the ultimate centralized electric system, a capitalist dream, but for the fact that the technology is too simple. Just raising an antenna, planting a ground, and connecting simple tesla coil circuitry in between could achieve reception of power.

Although Tesla himself patented a couple of electric meters for high frequencies, it would be all too easy for consumers to tune in for free, just as many today bootleg pay TV signals using illicit equipment far more sophisticated. It is no wonder, then, that the electric power establishment didn't welcome this invention. This was one problem. Another was that the established electric power system would have to be relegated to another great pile of scrap, and maybe the established system of political power as well. ■ -¿P ■■■■ m I Ha I ''' 1»| ||1 | "■¡¡:Uv'v ■ t /'■ ■■■■■■■■■ISS! ^ 1I ;•:■'Jtfog■'■■

Tesla's announced dream was to use hydra sources where available and through wireless power broadcast that energy around the planet, thus liberating the world from poverty. Such a scheme would not be readily embraced by powers that sustain their rule by keeping populations poor and weak. Centralized control of energy, as well as other resources, is, of course, believed to be essential to civilized rule, at least as far as thinking on that subject has progressed in this era. Moreover, no multinational political system was in existence, or is now for that matter, that could implement a technology of such global implications. Tesla was blind to such considerations.

His commitment, his overriding priority as a technological purist, was to take machine possibilities to their logical conclusions. Today, if wireless power were seriously proposed, there would no doubt be at least one political problem that would not have arisen in Tesla's time: resistance from environmentalists. What would an environmental impact report have to say about biologic hazards? A Navy submarine communication system that uses extremely low frequency (ELF) waves, down to below 10 cycles, has been challenged by environmentalists, as have microwave and 60 cycle high-voltage transmission lines.

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