One of the few things that Nikola Tesla invented and demonstrated frequently that is not in widespread use today is radiant energy. We use wireless transmission of information daily – cell phones, wireless routers for internet connection, RC devices, and the like. But all of these devices use a physical connection for power, either plugged into an outlet or using batteries. Radiant energy uses the same connection to supply electric power to devices without a physical connection. This was Tesla’s vision – electricity for anyone to use, without any power lines connecting them to the generator.
What Is Radiant Energy?
With radiant energy, electricity is generated, broadcast, and captured and put to use wherever it is useful. The most widely used method today uses the sun’s energy generation and captures it with solar panels. Tesla’s method didn’t use visible light, and it didn’t require line of sight, it uses frequencies that pass through most obstacles easily. His public demonstrations used standard electric generators, broadcast that power, captured and used it on the stage. His first patents for this method are Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy and Method of Utilizing Radiant Energy.
How Does Radiant Energy Work?
In a word: inefficiently. Tesla’s original plan was to use standard electrical generation and broadcast it worldwide. This has a fatal flaw, in that electrical generation isn’t free, but the use of it would be.
There is a light at the end of this tunnel, however. In 1933, Tesla announced that he had discovered a method of capturing part of the sun’s non-visible energy for use. He called the frequency he was using ‘cosmic rays’, and claimed that it would work as well at night as during the day. In this newspaper interview, he stated that the method would be ready for commercial development in the near future.
Unfortunately, he never patented the process, and he did not find a commercial backer for developing it. When he died in 1943, the Office of Alien Property collected his notes, which were held as classified until they were delivered to his nephew in 1952. They are currently on display at the Nikola Tesla Museum (Muzej Nikole Tesle) in Belgrade, Serbia. They do not contain information on the mechanism he used or expected to use to capture these cosmic rays.
Tesla withdrew from public view in the 1930s, and there was very little public research in his work for over 30 years after his death. After the energy crisis of the 1970s, interest in his work resurged, and many researchers are now trying to re-discover his method of using cosmic rays as a power source.
The Advantages of Radiant Energy
It would be available without infrastructure
No power lines are used with radiant energy. This would be remarkably convenient in practice.
It would save mineral resources
All of the copper used in cables and cords would be available for other uses, rather than using it to conduct electricity from where it’s generated to where it’s used. Materials now used for batteries could be put to other uses.
It would replace batteries
With current technology, batteries are toxic to make and dispose of. Radiant energy would make this obsolete, providing a benefit to the environment.
A Cosmic Ray source would be inexpensive
When we re-discover how to do this, it would reduce our energy cost to the initial installation. There would be no ongoing costs other than maintenance. It would literally be almost free energy.
Using cosmic rays would replace fossil fuels
Even if it cannot be done on a small enough scale to use in cars or trucks, it would be an end to coal and oil power plants. It would also make radiant energy transmission more feasible if it can be made practical.
Cosmic ray use might lead to worldwide free energy
The flaw in radiant energy transmission as we understand it today is that generating energy is expensive. When we learn how to tap cosmic energy, the only expense would be building and maintaining the machinery. Crowdfunding could potentially pay for that.
The Disadvantages of Radiant Energy
It is not currently practical
Without a way to get paid by the users, nobody has any incentive to broadcast electricity.
It may present a health hazard
Nobody fully understands the effects of radiant energy on plants and animals. Some people are already concerned about how much radio frequency energy we are using today. We need further research. This is an aspect that Tesla was not competent to judge.
We don’t yet know how to harness cosmic radiation
Research is underway, but the method hasn’t been re-discovered yet. Use of cosmic radiation does not pose the potential health hazard mentioned above; the cosmic radiation we would use has been present since before life began on earth.
Use of cosmic radiation would change society
Free or almost-free electricity would have a strong effect on people everywhere. While we can speculate on the advantages, we cannot predict all of the effects it would have on our society and economy. Some of these effects might be detrimental.
In conclusion, we can only wish that Tesla’s understanding of how to harness the energy of cosmic rays had been preserved. While some are skeptical of his claim, history is full of examples of Tesla making impossible-sounding claims and then demonstrating them to be possible. There are other things he demonstrated publicly before many reliable witnesses that we do not know how to do today.
Tesla’s wireless energy transmission worked, but it is not practical in today’s society. Research on his proposed use of electrical generation from the sun’s cosmic rays continues, and more attention is given to it today than it got in the decades after Tesla’s death. All we need is a breakthrough.
IMAGE SOURCE: 1