- 'Death Ray' For Planes
The New York Times
September 22, 1940
- Nikola Tesla, one of the truly great inventors who celebrated
his eighty-fourth birthday on July, 10 tells the writer that he stands
ready to divulge to the United States government the secret of his "teleforce,"
of which he said," airplane motors would be melted at a distance of
250 miles, so that an invisible 'Chinese Wall of Defense' would be built
around the country against any enemy attack by an enemy air force, no matter
- This "teleforce" is based on an entirely new
principle of physics, that "no one has ever dreamed about," different
from the principles embodied in the in his inventions relating to the transmission
of electrical power from a distance, for which he has received a number
of basic patents. This new type of force Mr. Tesla said, would operate
through a beam one- hundred-millionth of a square centimeter in diameter,
and could be generated from special plant that would cost no more then
$2,000,000 and would take only about three months to construct.
- A dozen such plants, located at strategic points along
the coast, according to Mr. Tesla, would be enough to defend the country
against all aerial attack. The beam would melt any engine, whether diesel
or gasoline driven, and would also ignite the explosives aboard any bomber.
No possible defense against it could be devised, he asserts, as the beam
would be all-penetrating.
- High Vacuum Eliminated
- The beam, he states, involves four new inventions, two
of which already have been tested. One of these is a method and apparatus
< section not legible eliminating the need for a "high vacuum;"
a second is a process for producing "very great electrical force;"
third is a method of amplifying this force, and the fourth is a new method
for producing "a tremendous repelling electrical force." This
would be the projector, or the gun of the system. The voltage for propelling
the beam to its objective, according to the inventor, will attain a potential
of 80,000,000 volts.
- With this enormous voltage, he said, microscopic electrical
particles of matter will be catapulted on their mission of defensive destruction.
He has been working on this invention, he added, for many years and has
made a number of improvements on it.
- Mr. Tesla makes one important stipulation. Should the
government decide to take up his offer, he would go to work on it at once,
but they would have to trust him. He would suffer "no interference
In ordinary times such a condition would very likely interpose an insuperable
obstacle. But times being what they are, and with the nation getting ready
to spend billions on national defense, at the same time taking in consideration
the reputation of Mr. Tesla as an inventor who always was many years ahead
of his time, the question arises whether it may not be advisable to take
Mr. Tesla at his word and commission him to go ahead with his "teleforce"
In ordinary times such a condition would very likely
interpose an insuperable obstacle. But times being what they are, and with
the nation getting ready to spend billions on national defense, at the
same time taking in consideration the reputation of Mr. Tesla as an inventor
who always was many years ahead of his time, the question arises whether
it may not be advisable to take Mr. Tesla at his word and commission him
to go ahead with his "teleforce" plant.
- Such a Device "Invaluable"
- After all $2,000,000 would be relatively a very small
sum compared with what is at stake. If Mr. Tesla really fulfills his promise
the results achieved would be truly staggering. Now only would it save
billions now planned for air defense, by making the country absolutely
impregnable against any air attack, but it also would save many more billions
in property that would otherwise be surely destroyed no matter how strong
the defenses are as witness current events in England.
- Take, for example, the Panama Canal. No matter how strong
the defense, a suicide squadron of dive bombers, according to some experts,
might succeed in getting through and cause such damage that would make
the Canal unusable, in which our Navy might find it self bottled up.
- Considering the probabilities in the case even if the
chances were a 100,000 to 1 against Mr. Tesla the odds would still be largely
in favor of taking a chance of spending $2000,000. In the opinion of the
writer, who has known Mr. Tesla for many years and can testify he still
retains full intellectual vigor, the authorities in charge of building
national defense should at once look into the matter. The sum is insignificant
compared to the magnitude of the stake.