Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower - Could it have worked?

According to Tesla this monument, if constructed, would result in:
“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.”

I don’t now anything about electricity. Could the tower had worked anywhere near this effective?

I’ve read reliable accounts of people being able to “hear” microwave transmissions and that properly modulated microwave signals can allow a person to “hear” speech that is being transmitted to them. Apparently, the microwaves directly bypass the auditory nerve and act directly upon the brain. No idea if this is what Tesla was working on, but it seems possible.


In any event, Telsa’s work wasn’t even radio (microwave signals are high frequency radio waves). He was working with much, much lower frequencies. Uncle Cecil talks about Tesla at What’s up with “broadcast power”? – suffice it to say that Tesla was even more vague about how he planned to transmit and receive audio than he was about the failed wireless power project.

Very doubtful. At least as far as wireless power is concerned.

Sounds like he’s describing a radio or TV. A central transmitter & small receiver devices. Nothing was said about people hearing the audio directly in their head.

IMHO Tesla in general was 10% genius & 90% BS. He really had no clue how little he knew. IN his defense, neither did anyone else of the era.

We can build (& have built) very low frequency transmitters that send receivable signals planet-wide. The inherent limitation on information rate (Shannon’s law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Elwood_Shannon) means you can’t transmit video or even audio at those frequencies. And the power levels are such that your reciever needs a power source, but nothing more exotic than a battery.

A lot of Tesla’s ideas had to do with transmitting not only information but power as well. And in that he was Lost in Space.



PDF paper from IEEE describing it can be found here.

So the voices in my head are real?

I KNEW it!

I don’t know how Tesla proposed to modulate his carrier wave. AM broadcasts made at the frequency he was using, would have penetrated the earth. All you would need to pick up the signal would be an antenna, a grouns, and a detetor (of some sort). Frankly, I’m amazed that JP Morgan finaced this venture (the tower) without demanding to know how the receivers would work. In any case, at the low frequency Tesla was using, your information transfer rate wuld have been pretty slow. As it were, JP Morgan pulled out before the tower was finished, and so nobody knows if it would have worked or not. This is the basic problem with Tesla-big claims, but little actual performance. His achievements in AC transmission are solid-but this work took place before 1900-after that, his claims become pretty wild.

It’s pretty much an infallible rule that if you ask whether something of Tesla’s *could * have worked, the answer is no. The things that could work he got to work. The things he and his acolytes make claims for, but never got to work, however, could never have worked.