Would Even Guide Ships | NY Times | July 11, 1935
Assails Theory of Relativity as Work of Metaphysicians and not Scientific
Nikola Tesla, the man with seven hundred basic patents to his credit, who startled the world on a number of occasions in the past by achieving what others had regarded as impossible, including the large-scale generation and distribution of alternating current, yesterday treated the combined metropolitan press to a personally conducted tour of the labyrinthine laboratory of his fertile mind.
It was his seventy-ninth birthday anniversary, and, in keeping with his custom of past years, he made the day an occasion for revealing some of the latest products of his brain in the line of discovery, a field in which he rivaled and sometimes surpassed Edison during the golden era of electrical invention.
He confined himself yesterday to three of his startling adventures in the realm of theoretical and practical science. One of these, he said, “would appear almost preposterous.” The second, he said with true candor, “would be considered absolutely impossible by any competent electrical engineer.” The third would knock the props out from under the theory, of relativity, he said, but in this case also he expressed his doubt that the modern generation of scientists would take his challenge seriously.
Cites Cosmic Ray Proof
He described relativity as “a beggar wrapped in purple whom ignorant people take for a king.” In support of his statement he cited a number of experiments he had conducted, he said, as far back as 1896 on the cosmic ray. He has measured cosmic ray velocities from Antarus, he said, which he found to be fifty times greater than the speed of light, thus demolishing, he contended, one of the basic pillars of the structure of relativity, according to which there can be no speed greater than that of light.
Mr. Tesla treated the press, reporters, camera men, news and sound reel representatives, about 30 in number, to a gourmet’s luncheon in a private dining room at the Hotel New Yorker, where he has been making his home during the past two years. Mr. Tesla sat at the head of the table and talked while the reporters and camera men feasted on his bounty. He disdained each and every dish that was brought to him, not even touching his glass of water.
Toward the end of the luncheon he absented himself for a while and came back with a bottle containing a small quantity of pasteurized milk. This he poured in a silver chafing dish and heated to the proper temperature. Then came the surprise of the day – a birthday cake with a lone candle, a token of esteem by the management of the New Yorker to its distinguished bachelor guest.
His Greatest Achievement
One of the subjects, which he hoped, he said, will come to be recognized as his “greatest achievement in the field of engineering,” was, he said, the perfection by him of “an apparatus by which mechanical energy can be transmitted to any part of the terrestrial globe.”
This apparatus, he said, will have at least four practical possibilities. It will give the world a new means of unfailing communication; it will provide a new and by far the safest means for guiding ships at sea and into port; it will furnish a certain divining rod for locating ore deposits of any kind under the surface of the earth; and finally, it will furnish scientists with a means for laying bare the physical conditions of the earth, and will enable them to determine all of the earth’s physical constants.
He called this discovery “tele-geodynamics,” motion of earth-forces at a distance. It is of this, he said, that it would “appear almost preposterous.” The apparatus, he added, is “ideally simple,” consisting of a stationary part and a cylinder of fine steel “floating” in air. He has found means, he said, of “impressing upon the floating part powerful impulses which react on the stationary part, and through the latter to transmit energy through the earth.” To do this he has “found a new amplifier for a known type of energy,” and the “purpose is to produce impulses through the earth and then pick them up whenever needed.”
The second invention, which, he said, “will be considered absolutely impossible by any competent electrical engineer,” was described by him as a new method and apparatus for producing direct current without a commutator, “something that has been considered impossible since the days of Faraday.” “Incredible as it seems,” he said, “I have found a solution for this old problem.”
Cosmic rays, he asserted, he found are produced by the force of “electrostatic repulsion”; they consist of powerfully charged positive particles which come to us from the sun and other suns in the universe. He determined, “after experimentation,” he added, that the sun is charged “with an electric potential of approximately 215,000,000,000 volts, while the electric charge stored in the sun amounted to approximately 50,000,000,000,000,000,000 electrostatic units.”
The theory of relativity he described as “a mass of error and deceptive ideas violently opposed to the teachings of great men of science of the past and even to common sense.”
“The theory,” he said, “wraps all these errors and fallacies and clothes them in magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king. Its exponents are very brilliant men, but they are metaphysicists rather than scientists. Not a single one of the relativity propositions has been proved.”