Faster Than Light (Nov, 1931)

Tesla was a genius, but he was an engineer, not a scientist.

Faster Than Light!

By HUGO GERNSBACK

IT may come as a shock, to most students of science, to learn that there are still in the world some scientists who believe that there are speeds greater than that of light.

Since the advent of Einstein, most scientists and physicists have taken it for granted that speeds greater than 186,300 miles per second are impossible in the universe. Indeed, one of the principal tenets of the relativity theory is that the mass of a body increases with its speed, and would become infinite at the velocity of light. Hence, a greater velocity is impossible.

Among those who deny that this is true, there is Nikola Tesla, well known for his hundreds of important inventions. The induction motor and the system of distributing alternating current are but a few of his great contributions to modern science. In 1892, he made his historic experiments in Colorado; where he manufactured, for the first time, artificial lightning bolts 100 feet long, and where he was able, by means of high-frequency currents, to light electric lamps at a distance of three miles without the use of any wires whatsoever.

Talking to me about these experiments recently, Dr. Tesla revealed that he had made a number of surprising discoveries in the high-frequency electric field and that, in the course of these experiments, he had become convinced that he propagated frequencies at speeds higher than the speed of light.

In his patent No. 787,412, filed May 16, 1900, Tesla showed that the current of his transmitter passed over the earth’s surface with a speed of 292,830 miles per second, while radio waves proceed with the velocity of light. Tesla holds, however, that our present “radio” waves are not true Hertzian waves, but really sound waves.

He informs me, further, that he knows of speeds several times greater than that of light, and that he has designed apparatus with which he expects to project so-called electrons with a speed equal to twice that of light.

Coming from so eminent a source, the statement should be given due consideration. After all, abstract mathematics is one thing, and actual experimentation is another. Not so many years ago, one of the world’s greatest scientists of the time proved mathematically that it is impossible to fly a heavier-than-air machine. Yet we are flying plenty of airplanes today.

Tesla contradicts a part of the relativity theory emphatically, holding that mass is unalterable; otherwise, energy could be produced from nothing, since the kinetic energy acquired in the fall of a body would be greater than that necessary to lift it at a small velocity.

It is within the bounds of possibility that Einstein’s mathematics of speeds greater than light may be wrong. Tesla has been right many times during the past, and he may be proven right in the future. In any event, the statement that there are speeds faster than light is a tremendous one, and opens up entirely new vistas to science.

While it is believed by many scientists, today, that the force of gravitation is merely another manifestation of electromagnetic waves, there have, as yet, been no proofs of this. There are, of course, many obscure tilings about gravitation that we have not, as yet, fathomed, At one time, it was believed by many scientists that the speed of gravitation is instantaneous throughout the universe. This is simply another way of putting it that there are speeds greater than light.

Yet, from a strictly scientific viewpoint, no one today has any idea how fast gravitational waves—always providing that the force is in waves—travel. If the moon, for instance, were to explode at a given moment, how long would it be before the gravitational disturbance would be felt on earth? Would the gravitational impulse or waves travel at the speed of light—that is, 186,000 miles per second—or would the effect be instantaneous? We do not know.

The entire subject will no doubt arouse a tremendous interest in scientific circles. It is hoped that other scientists will be encouraged to investigate Dr. Tesla’s far-reaching assertions; either to definitely prove or to disprove them.

16 comments
  1. Firebrand38 says: December 10, 201010:24 am

    The patent may be found here

    Now I’m just waiting for all the Tesla crackpots to come out of the woodwork on this one.

  2. DouglasUrantia says: December 10, 201011:38 am

    Firebrand: As for myself I have great respect for Mr. Tesla.

  3. Firebrand38 says: December 10, 201012:02 pm

    DouglasUrantia: And if you pay real close attention I didn’t say anything against him, now did I? Only the crackpots who invoke his name.

    Of course its hard for me to respect someone who tries to contradict Einstein in this manner. He should have stuck to swinging at Edison.

  4. fluffy says: December 10, 201012:06 pm

    I think what Tesla did qualifies him as a scientist more than an engineer. But there’s nothing about being a scientist that means you are going to be right all the time. Anyway, it’s the role of the scientist to question established fact and try to disprove it, since that’s how science moves forward.

  5. Chris Radcliff says: December 10, 201012:08 pm

    While there are quite a few physics dillies in the article — sound waves as “radio” and the kinetic-energy argument are both really easy to contradict with experiment — some of the core questions being asked aren’t so loopy.

    Speeds greater than c aren’t impossible, we just don’t know how to “get there from here” due to that pesky infinite-energy barrier to the standard path. Still, the specific claim (“I’ve measured waves traveling at speeds greater than light”) is easy to test. (I assume that test wouldn’t go so well for Tesla, though others have had some success in a quantum-influenced realm.)

    Gernsback raises a great point himself: “There are, of course, many obscure things about gravitation that we have not, as yet, fathomed.” That’s still an understatement 80 years later.

  6. Kosher Ham says: December 10, 201012:41 pm

    It will be necessary to break the speed of light in order to make inter-stellar travel and later inter-galactic travel possible. How can we do that– who knows. It would not surprise me if there is some relation to time travel and and traveling between universes.

  7. JMyint says: December 10, 20101:05 pm

    Tesla is than man more responsible for modern life than any other, but he was no scientist, then neither was Edison. It is not the role of a scientist to try to disprove established facts but to try to explain them. It is an established fact that electricity flows through a conductor but the scientific explanation of how is two mutually exclusive theories. A scientist does not try to mold the facts to his theory but tries to craft a theory to explain the facts.

    Einstein did cover the apparent instantaneous nature of gravity by theorizing that gravity was not a particle or wave but a distortion of space/time. It didn’t have to travel as it was already there. So far the experiments that have been conducted seem to confirm much of Einstein’s theories, but like all good scientific theories there is a disprovable clause. If it is discovered that the speed of light in a vacuum is not constant then the theories of relativity can be call into question.

    Any new theory would have to explain the facts that relativity has already. Einstein became famous after the 1919 eclipse showed that the universe really did bend in the presence of massive objects. The atomic bomb showed that a tiny bit of matter could be converted into a huge amount of energy. The modern GPS location system is based on the time dilation effect of moving objects. So so far Einstein has a few up on Tesla.

  8. Toronto says: December 10, 20108:03 pm

    J – That 1919 eclipse was probably the best timed one since “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”

  9. John Savard says: December 10, 20108:41 pm

    While Nikola Tesla is responsible for many great achievements, his claim that the relativistic increase in mass of a moving body would lead to a perpetual motion machine simply reveals that he had not studied Special Relativity. That level of ignorance is inexcusable today; I am not certain whether it was excusable in 1931 either.

    For someone to have original ideas, and to believe in them enough to take the time and effort to bring them to fruition, it takes a certain amount of self-confidence. Yes, Tesla was wrong about relativity. But Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics.

    The plodding dull academics who seem to be the last to accept any original ideas serve a purpose too with their skepticism; after the fact, after the creative geniuses light up the sky like a comet, they eventually do manage to sort out the wheat from the chaff, so that we can keep the gifts that the creative geniuses left us without being led astray by their mistakes.

    So we get to keep alternating current, and relativity, and quantum mechanics… and knowledge goes forward.

    Of course, too much skepticism still can delay things. We might have had transistors in the 1920s if some of those stuffy scientists had thought the Crystodyne worth investigating…

  10. Nick says: December 11, 20104:24 am

    Most of Nikola Tesla’s inventions are useful today, while relativity is useless in practice, relativity is ridiculous within a refined logical and rational point of view.
    Relativity is strongly based upon cynicism, hypocrisy, pseudo-proofs and pseudo-achievements. Relativity is just an opium for mediocre scientists.

  11. Firebrand38 says: December 11, 20109:03 am

    Nick: Wow, now that’s a classic example of stupid. Are you trying out for the job of Science Adviser to Sarah Palin or what?

  12. LightningRose says: December 11, 201010:27 am

    It’s a good thing for Nick that his automobiles glove box is full of maps. GPS clearly doesn’t work in his worldview.

    http://en.wikipedia.org…

  13. LightningRose says: December 11, 201010:29 am

    One more link for Nick.

    http://www.astronomy.oh…

  14. fluffy says: December 11, 201011:28 am

    GPS isn’t the only thing that benefits from an understanding of relativity. Pretty much everything in our modern telecommunications infrastructure does as well. It influences chip designs, network layouts (both at the small scale and the wide scale), wide-scale networked software design, and who knows what else?

    Nuclear reactors are, of course, other obvious examples of the effects of relativity being harnessed for real-world use, although relativity itself doesn’t really factor into them so much there.

    Everything that we observe in modern science has also so far been consistent with relativity. Muon decay, the Hubble constant, gravitational lensing (which we’re using to detect black holes and extra-solar planets and hosts of other things!), and the expansion of the universe itself.

    Relativity is VERY IMPORTANT and has so far held up to every scientific scrutiny, DESPITE people challenging it. (Which is, as I said before, how actual science works.)

  15. Arend Lammertink says: September 13, 20113:32 am

    As an Electrical Engineer, I have also come to the conclusion that Einstein’s relativity theory is plain wrong. It is essentially based on the erroneous assumption that the electric and magnetic fields are caused by matter (charge carrierrs), while we know from Quantum Mechanics that it’s the other way around.

    The root of the error can be found in the Maxwell equations in their currently accepted form. These equations are the foundation for our current understanding of the electro-magnetic fields. Maxwell, a mathematician, formulated his theory on electromagnetic phenomena based on the experimental results by Faraday. At some point, he postulated that the fields he was describing mathematically were being caused by so-called charge carriers, matter. The essential mistake with that is that this assumes that the electric and magnetic fields cannot exist without being caused by some kind of particle, while we now know for decades that is not the case, because from QM we know that particles and electro-magnetic waves are one and the same thing and are nothing more than alternating/vibrating electric and magnetic fields.

    So, essentially the error is that the same fields that cause electromagnetic waves (and thus particles when alternating/vibrating in a certain way) supposedly cannot exist without being caused by some kind of electromagnetic waves (particles). Or, the Maxwell equations say electromagnetism and thus electromagnetic waves are caused by particles while at the same time QM says particles are nothing but electromagnetic waves.

    And you simply cannot have it both ways at the same time. Either particles cause the electro-magnetic fields, or the electro-magnec fields cause the particles, but not both.

    Dr. Charles Kenneth Thornhill wrote some excellent articles on this:
    http://etherphysics.net…

    http://etherphysics.net…
    “The real space-time of Newtonian mechanics and the ether concept is contrasted with the imaginary space-time of the non-ether concept and relativity. In real space-time (x, y, z, ct) characteristic theory shows that Maxwell’s equations and sound waves in any uniform fluid at rest have identical wave surfaces. Moreover, without charge or current, Maxwell’s equations reduce to the same standard wave equation which governs such sound waves. This is not a general and invariant equation but it becomes so by Galilean transformation to any other reference-frame. So also do Maxwell’s equations which are, likewise, not general but unique to one reference-frame. The mistake of believing that Maxwell’s equations were invariant led to the Lorentz transformation and to relativity; and to the misinterpretation of the differential equation for the wave cone through any point as the quadratic differential form of a Riemannian metric in imaginary space-time (x, y, z, ict). Mathematics is then required to tolerate the same equation being transformed in different ways for different applications. Otherwise, relativity is untenable and recourse must then be made to real space-time, normal Galilean transformation and an ether with Maxwellian statistics and Planck’s energy distribution. ”

    The core of the matter, according to Thornhill:

    “It was the mistaken idea, that Maxwell’s equations and the standard wave equation should be invariant, which led, by a mathematical freak, to the Lorentz transform (which demands the non-ether concept and a universally constant wave-speed) and to special relativity. ”

    And there are examples where current theory goes wrong. The most important mistake is the assumption that the speed of light is fixed, which is a result of using the Lorentz transform (which demands a fixed speed of light acc. to Thornhill) instead of the Galilei transform, because Einstein assumes there is no ether and therefore no particular natural reference system such as a fluid-like ether. If the speed of light is mostly depending on the local density of the ether, one can assume that the speed of light is pretty constant within the solar system, so you would start to see anomalies when further out in space. And that is exactly what’s happening:

    http://www.guardian.co….
    “Thirty years ago, Nasa launched the first man-made object to leave the solar system. [...] Radio tracking of its course, however, indicates it will take longer to reach the stars than scientists had calculated. More important, its anomalous motion may challenge our fundamental understanding of the forces of nature.”

    Hey, they say so themselves ;)

    A bit more: “Pioneer 10 is slowing down faster than expected simply based on the gravitational attraction of the sun and planets. The effect is tiny – only about one part in 10bn of that due to the Earth’s gravity acting on you right now – but it is definitely there. ”

    So, we see things we cannot explain, but of course, nothing can be wrong with current theory:

    “Explanations fall into three camps. The third in line is the easiest to state: our knowledge of physics is incomplete, or wrong. That is, gravity does not behave the way we think (such as the inverse-square law not working at very large distances), or perhaps there is an unknown “fifth force” to accompany the weak and strong nuclear forces, electromagnetism, and gravity. This would undermine all cosmological theories. Such an interpretation is to be resisted. ”

    And this one is also interesting:

    http://www.space.com/12…
    “Impossible Star Defies Astronomers’ Theories
    [...]
    A primordial star at the outer edges of our Milky Way galaxy may upset current theories of star formation in the universe. The star simply shouldn’t exist since it lacks the materials astronomers have long thought necessary for low-mass stars to form, scientists say. [...] Using simulations and observations of other low-mass stars, astronomers have determined the minimum levels of various elements so that a star has enough mass to pull together under gravity. But the composition of the primordial star weighs in far below those numbers.”

    And where this goes wrong is with the assumption that gravity is a force separate from the electro-magnetic forces taking place in the ether. Gravity as we feel it on earth is caused by a decreasing ether pressure. High up in the atmosphere you have a high voltage compared to the ground and Tesla actually had the idea of tapping energy from that using electrodes put up in the atmosphere with balloons, IIRC.

    It is well known that anti-gravity can easily be created using an a-symmetric capacitor charged to a very high voltage. This is known as the TT-Brown effect. Naudin has a page up where he built some of these: http://jnaudin.free.fr/…

    So, it is clear that there is a relation between gravity and the electric field. According to Paul Stowe, gravity is the gradient of the electric field E.

    And if gravity is indeed the gradient of the electric field and we have standing waves in the ether all over the place, matter will naturally flow from the most active (node) areas to the silent (antinode or knot) areas and that is how stars, etc. are born IMHO. Not by “pulling” forces aka gravity, but by the pushing forces of low frequency standing waves with enormous wavelengths in the ether.

  16. JMyint says: September 13, 20117:41 am

    As an electrical engineer I would like to add that Arend Lammertink is not representative of electrical engineers, nor does he represent the community of professional electrical engineers. His opinions are entirely his own.

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