Inventor, 81, Talks of Key to Interstellar Transmission and Tube to Produce Radium Copiously and Cheaply — Decorated by Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia
Reports of discoveries by which it will be possible to communicate with the planets and to produce radium in unlimited quantity for $1 a pound were announced by Dr. Nikola Tesla yesterday at a luncheon on his eighty-first birthday at which he wee honored with high orders from the Yugoslav and Czechoslovak Governments.
Dr. Tesla, whose discoveries in electrical science have won for him recognition as the father of modern methods of generating and distributing electrical energy, asserted his “absolute” belief that he would win the Pierre Guzman prize of the Institute of France for his discovery relating to the interstellar transmission of energy.
Following his annual custom, Dr. Tesla played host to a group of newspaper men at his birthday luncheon at the Hotel New Yorker and issued the announcement of his discoveries of the last year. No apparatus or sketches were shown, but Dr. Tesla said in announcing perfection of the principle of a new tube, which he said would make it possible to smash the atom and produce cheap radium, that he would be able to give a demonstration in “only a little time.”
Guests at Dr. Tesla's luncheon included Constantin Fotitch, Minister from Yugoslavia Vladimir Hurban, Minister from Czechoslovakia; R. Petrovich, first secretary of the Yugoslav delevation; B. P. Stoyanovitch, Yugoslav Consul General in New York; Dr. J. Nemeck, Counselor of the Czechoslav Legation, and J. Hajny, Acting Consul General in New York for Czechoslovakia.
Presenting to Dr. Tesla the Grand Cordon of the White Eagle, highest order of Yugoslavia, Mr. Fotitch announced it was the first time the order had been granted to an American for civil accomplishments. The honor was bestowed by order of Ring Peter through the Regent, Prince Paul.
Dr. Tesla Predicts Linking Planets
Dr. Tesla's career has been an inspiration to the youth of his native country, the Minister said. Evidently referring to Dr. Tesla's report several years ago of inventing a “death beam” for use as a defense weapon, the Minister said:
“All your efforts are directed to find a way, by means of some new magic invention of yours, by which you will check and render futile as much as possible all those inventions which men have invented to destroy mutually one another. You feel, as we all feel in your old country, that the world has seen enough of horror and that after so many examples of heroism displayed in the Great War, humanity has found a better way only in peace.”
Mr. Hurban, presenting the Grand Gordon of the White Lion, which has been granted to such other distinguished Americans as Secretary Kellogg, Elihu Root and Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, said “our Czechoslovak nation's brotherly feeling toward you as a son of Yugoslavia made it a duty, not a privilege, to give you this decoration in the name of the President of our nation. Dr. Edward Benes.” He also presented a diploma certifying Dr. Tesla's honorary degree as a doctor of the University of Prague.
Outlines His Discoveries
Dr. Tesla, in responding, said he considered Czechoslovakia “one of the most enlightened countries in the world.”
In a ten-page typewritten statement outlining his discoveries, Dr. Tesla gave a resume of his work in the fields of gravity and cosmic rays. Asserting that “the so-called cosmic rays observed at great altitudes presented a riddle for more than twenty-six years chiefly because it was found that they increased with altitude at a rapid rate.” Dr. Tesla said he had discovered “the astonishing fact that the effects at high altitudes are of an entirely different nature, having no relation whatever to cosmic rays.”
He gave a detailed technical description of his conclusions from research and calculations concerning the cosmic ray, and continued:
“For the time being, I must content myself with the announcement of the salient facts, but in due course I expect to be able to give more or less accurate technical data relating to all particulars of this discovery.”
Digressing from his prepared statement, he said:
“I am proud of these discoveries, because many have denied that I am the original discoverer of the cosmic ray. I was fifteen years ahead of other fellows who were asleep. Now no one can take away from me the credit of being the first discoverer of the cosmic ray on earth.”
Dr. Tesla's audience stirred as he took up the next phase of his discoveries.
“I have devoted much of my time during the year past,” he said, “to the perfecting of a new small and compact apparatus by which energy in considerable amounts can now be flashed through interstellar space to any distance without the slightest dispersion.”
To Claim French Award
Explaining that he did not refer to his “universal peace discovery,” Dr. Tesla continued:
“I am expecting to put before the Institute of France an accurate description of the devices with data and calculations and claim the Pierre Guzman prize of 100,000 francs for means of communication with other worlds, feeling perfectly sure that it will be
awarded to me. The money, of course, is a trifling consideration, but for the great historical honor of being the first to achieve this miracle I would be almost willing to give my life.
“I am just as sure that prize will be awarded to me as if I already had it in my pocket. They have got to do it. It means it will be possible to convey several thousand units of horsepower to other planets, regardless of the distance. This discovery of mine will be remembered when everything else I have done, is covered with dust.”
Reporters questioned Dr. Tesla closely on his report of an interplanetary communication system. He said he had been working in several laboratories, but refused to disclose where they were. Asked if he had a working model of the apparatus, he said, “it employs more than three dozen of my inventions; it is a complex apparatus, an agglomeration of parts.”
“It is absolutely developed,” he declared. “I wouldn't be any surer that I can transmit energy 100 miles that I am of the fact that I can transmit energy 1,000,000 miles up.”
A different kind of energy than is commonly employed must be used, however, he said, explaining further that “you must realize it travels through a channel of less than one-half of one-millionth of a centimeter.”
“I could undertake a contract to manufacture the apparatus,” he asserted.
Dr. Tesla declared that “life on other planets is an infinite probability, a certitude.” A difficulty in using his apparatus, he said, would lie in hitting other moving planets with “the needle-point of tremendous energy,” but astronomers could help solve this problem.
The point of energy could be aimed at the moon and “we very easily could see the effects, see the splash and the volatilization of matter.” He also pictured the possibility of advanced thinkers living on other planets and also experimenting in this field, but mistaking the Tesla energy rays for some form of cosmic rays.
Dr. Tesla provoked a new stir with his next announcement.
“My most important invention from a practical point of view,” he said, “is a new form of tube with apparatus for its operation.”
Reports Tube of New Type
Recalling experiments with other tubes, he said he had been “rewarded with complete success” and had “produced a tube which it will be hard to improve further.”
“It is of ideal simplicity,” he said, “not subject to wear and can be operated at any potential, however high — even 100,000,000 volts — that can be produced. It will carry heavy currents, transform any amount of energy within practical limits and it permits easy control and regulation of the same.
“I expect that this invention, when it becomes known, will be universally adopted in preference to other form of tubes and that it will be the means of obtaining results undreamed of before.
“Among others, it will enable the production of cheap radium substitutes in any desired quantity and will be, in general, immediately more effective in the smashing of atoms and the transmutation of matter. However, this tube will not open up a way to utilize atomic or subatomic energy for power purposes.”
“It will cheapen radium so,” Dr. Tesla added, “that it will be just a cheap — well, it will get down to $1 a pound, in any quantity.”
Expressing “annoyance” that some newspapers had indicated he would “give a full description” of his atom-smashing tube at yesterday's luncheon, Dr. Tesla said he was bound by financial obligations “involving vast sums of money” against releasing this information.
“But it is not an experiment,” he declared. “I have built, demonstrated and used it. Only a little time will pass before I can give it to the world.”
A final discovery announced by Dr. Tesla involved a new method and apparatus for further perfection of vacuum tubes.
“What may be accomplished by means of such vacua is a matter of conjecture, but it is obvious that they will make possible the production of much more intense effects in electron tubes.” he said.
Before and during the luncheon, Dr. Tesla entertained his guests with colorful personal reminiscences and observations including his opinions on dieting and immortality.