THE TESLA "DEATH RAY"
The term teleforce refers to Nikola Tesla's macroscopic charged particle beam projector. The device was based upon a large Van de Graaff generator of unique design and a special type of open-ended vacuum tube. It comprised a system for the acceleration of minute tungsten or mercury particles to a velocity of about 48 times the speed of sound. The projectiles were propelled out of the tube by electrostatic repulsion.
From Tesla's words, written in a letter to J. P. Morgan, Jr., on November 29, 1934 it can be seen the device was intended for use in national defense.
“I have made recent discoveries of inestimable value. . . . The flying machine has completely demoralized the world, so much that in some cities, as London and Paris, people are in mortal fear from aerial bombing. The new means I have perfected afford absolute protection against this and other forms of attack. . . . These new discoveries, which I have carried out experimentally on a limited scale, have created a profound impression. One of the most pressing problems seems to be the protection of London and I am writing to some influential friends in England hoping that my plan will be adopted without delay. The Russians are very anxious to render their borders safe against Japanese invasion and I have made them a proposal which is being seriously considered.”
According to Tesla production of the particle beam is dependent upon four inventions of the following nature:
A method and apparatus for producing rays and other manifestations of energy in free air, eliminating the high vacuum necessary at present for the production of such rays and beams. This is accomplished with a novel form of high vacuum tube, one end of which is open to the atmosphere. The projectiles are accelerated in a vacuum and then conducted into the atmosphere through a valvular conduit.
A method and process for producing very great electrical force in the range of 60,000,000 volts to propel the particles to their objective. Tesla specified that this could be done with a large electrostatic generator on a new principle and of very great power, in many respects similar to a Van de Graaff generator. In place of a charge-carrying belt it employs a circulating stream of desiccated air that is propelled through a hermetically sealed ductwork by a Tesla disc blower. A Wardenclyffe type apparatus could also be used for this purpose
A method for amplifying this process in the second invention. The exterior of the high potential terminal is equipped with numerous bulbs of some insulating material each containing, “an electrode of thin metal sheet suitably rounded” and “exhausted to the highest vacuum obtainable.”
A new method for producing a tremendous electrical repelling force. It appears this would be applied to the projector or gun element of the system in the form of “provisions for imparting to a minute particle an extremely high charge.” While the specific details about this aspect of the design are not readily apparent, it seems that strict attention to the fulfillment of requirements 1, 2 and 3 is critical to success. In Tesla’s words, “by the application of my discoveries it is possible to increase the force of repulsion more than a million times and what was heretofore impossible is rendered easy of accomplishment.”
The tube would project a single row of highly charged particles and there would be no dispersion, even at great distance. Because the cross section of the charge carriers could be reduced to almost microscopic dimensions and since the charged particles would self-focus via "gas focusing," an immense concentration of energy, practically irrespective of distance, could be attained. For some trying to understand annuities would be easier then understanding what Tesla was suggesting, but the ray certainly could have helped national defense. In 1940 Tesla estimated that each station would cost no more than $2,000,000 and could have been constructed in a few months.
“When put in operation Dr. Tesla said this latest invention of his would make war impossible. This death-beam, he asserted, would surround each country like an invisible Chinese wall, only a million times more impenetrable. It would make every nation impregnable against attack by airplanes or by large invading armies.
“But while it will make every nation safe against any attack by a would-be invader, Dr. Tesla added, the death-beam by its nature could not be employed similarly as a weapon for offense. For this death-beam, he explained, could be generated only from large, stationary and immovable power plants, stationed in the manner of old-time forts at various strategic distances from each country's border. They could not be moved for the purposes of attack.
“An exception, however, he added, must be made in the case of battleships, which, he said, would be able to equip themselves with smaller plants for generating the death-beam, with enough power to destroy any airplane approaching for attack from the air.”
“The beam of force itself, as Dr. Tesla described it, is a concentrated current—it need be no thicker than a pencil—of microscopic particles moving at several hundred times the speed of artillery projectiles. The machine into which Dr. Tesla combines his four devices is, in reality, a sort of an electrical gun.
“As Dr. Tesla explained it, the tremendous speed of the particles will give them their destruction-dealing qualities. All but the thickest armored surfaces confronting them would be melted through in an instant by the heat generated in the concussion.
“My invention requires a large plant, but once it is established it will be possible to destroy anything, men or machines, approaching within a radius of 200 miles. It will, so to speak, provide a wall of power offering an insuperable obstacle against any effective aggression.
“I want to state explicitly that this invention of mine does not contemplate the use of any so-called "death rays." Rays are not applicable because they cannot be produced in requisite quantities and diminish rapidly in intensity with distance. All the energy of New York City (approximately two million horsepower) transformed into rays and projected twenty miles, could not kill a human being, because, according to a well known law of physics, it would disperse to such an extent as to be ineffectual.
“My apparatus projects particles which may be relatively large or of microscopic dimensions, enabling us to convey to a small area at a great distance trillions of times more energy than is possible with rays of any kind. Many thousands of horsepower can thus be transmitted by a stream thinner than a hair, so that nothing can resist. This wonderful feature will make it possible, among other things, to achieve undreamed-of results in television, for there will be almost no limit to the intensity of illumination, the size of the picture, or distance of projection.”
In reference to, “his atom-smashing tube,” . . . it is not an experiment. “I have built, demonstrated and used it. Only a little time will pass before I can give it to the world.”
“As though I am poor with words. I still didn't explain it enough what would be necessary to increase up to twelve stations: eight of them, each of the same construction like at Wardenclyffe and only 20 meters high--a ball five meters in diameter--the station would be using diesel oil for energy with mechanical action--my air turbines, steam powered, electrically or other manners of transforming into alternating electrical current with sixty million volts pressure without danger. . . . In my attempts with an effective 20 million volts . . . [particles] penetrated two meters in depth and did terrible damage
As an excersise in Tesla, John built a much smaller hand held version of an open ended vacuum tube particle accelerator.
This version of the Tesla Ray is on exhibit in Hiroshima city. It is the only one built by John, and he is not likely to build another. John has not disclosed the specs, schematics, or any thing about this device.