As I wake up to the news of Stephen Hawking turning back to stardust, I am reminded of a quote about Einstein’s brain:
“I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”- Steven Jay Gould
Hawking was a passionate defender of the NHS, and also believed that automation should liberate the people not enrich those with capital. He was granted by technology a life longer than anyone thought possible for someone with his illness.
How many geniuses have we lost or overlooked because they weren’t granted the resources to thrive in our unequal society? How can this be right when scarcity of basic needs is entirely manufactured?
“If there is energy within the substance it can only come from without. This truth was so manifest to me that I expressed it in the following axiom: ‘There is no energy in matter except that absorbed from the medium…’ If all energy is supplied to matter from without then this all important function must be performed by the medium.”
“When radio-active rays were discovered their investigators believed them to be due to liberation of atomic energy in the form of waves. This being impossible in the light of the preceding I concluded that they were produced by some external disturbance and composed of electrified particles. My theory was not seriously taken although it appeared simple and plausible. Suppose that bullets are fired against a wall. Where a missile strikes the material is crushed and spatters in all directions radial from the place of impact. In this example it is perfectly clear that the energy of the flying pieces can only be derived from that of the bullets. But in manifestation of radio-activity no such proof could be advanced and it was, therefore, of the first importance to demonstrate experimentally the existence of this miraculous disturbance in the medium. I was rewarded in these efforts with quick success largely because of the efficient method I adopted which consisted in deriving from a great mass of air, ionized by the disturbance, a current, storing its energy in a condenser and discharging the same through an indicating device. This plan did away with the limitations and incertitude of the electroscope first employed and was described by me in articles and patents from 1900 to 1905. It was logical to expect, judging from the behavior of known radiations, that the chief source of the new rays would be the sun, but this supposition was contradicted by observations and theoretical considerations which disclosed some surprising facts in this connection.
“Light and heat rays are absorbed in their passage through a medium in a certain proportion to its density. The ether, although the most tenuous of all substances, is no exception to this rule. Its density has been first estimated by Lord Kelvin and conformably to his finding a column of one square centimeter cross section and of a length such that light, traveling at a rate of three hundred thousands kilometers per second, would require one year to traverse it, should weigh 4.8 grams. This is just about the weight of a prism of ordinary glass of the same cross section and two centimeters length which, therefore, may be assumed as the equivalent of the ether column in absorption. A column of the ether one thousand times longer would thus absorb as much light as twenty meters of glass. However, there are suns at distances of many thousands of light years and it is evident that virtually no light from them can reach the earth. But if these suns emit rays immensely more penetrative than those of light they will be slightly dimmed and so the aggregate amount of radiations pouring upon the earth from all sides will be overwhelmingly greater than that supplied to it by our luminary. If light and heat rays would be as penetrative as the cosmic, so fierce would be the perpetual glare and so scorching the heat that life on this and other planets could not exist.
“Rays in every respect similar to the cosmic are produced by my vacuum tubes when operated at pressures of ten millions of volts or more, but even if it were not confirmed by experiment, the theory I advanced in 1897 would afford the simplest and most probable explanation of the phenomena. Is not the universe with its infinite and impenetrable boundary a perfect vacuum tube of dimensions and power inconceivable? Are not its fiery suns electrodes at temperatures far beyond any we can apply in the puny and crude contrivances of our making? Is it not a fact that the suns and stars are under immense electrical pressures transcending any that man can ever produce and is this not equally true of the vacuum in celestial space? Finally, can there be any doubt that cosmic dust and meteoric matter present an infinitude of targets acting as reflectors and transformers of energy? If under ideal working conditions, and with apparatus on a scale beyond the grasp of the human mind, rays of surpassing intensity and penetrative power would not be generated, then, indeed, nature has made an unique exception to its laws.
"It has been suggested that the cosmic rays are electrons or that they are the result of creation of new matter in the interstellar deserts. These views are too fantastic to be even for a moment seriously considered. They are natural outcroppings of this age of deep but unrational thinking, of impossible theories, the latest of which might, perhaps, deal with the curvature of time. What this world of ours would be if time were curved…“
“The Eternal Source of Energy of the Universe, Origin and Intensity of Cosmic Rays.” October 13, 1932.
Nikola Tesla was asked what would an engineer have to do to the wireless systems of today in order to produce very little radiation of electromagnetic waves and produce a large amount of earth currents? What changes would he have to make in the system?
“He would have to construct and operate the apparatus described in my patents and in my lectures.
“It is just like this: In an enterprise of this kind, you have to start with certain fundamental propositions. If you are to build a commercial plant, the question comes up how much money is it to cost. Now, you go to specify before your capitalists the various parts of the plant, and you will find that your machinery and the aerial structure will cost so much. If your capitalists are willing to go deep into their pockets, you can put up a tremendous antenna because, as you know, as I pointed out in 1893, that the effects will be proportionate to the capital invested in that part; but you will find great limits there.
“I designed a plant [Wardenclyffe, referring to Fig. 1 & Fig. 2] years ago with a large capacity and put it before certain architects. They figured that the antenna would cost $450,000 and I had to modify my plans. As you see, you are limited by cost as to the size of the antenna; that is, you are limited as to the capacity and, furthermore, you have selected the frequency. In order to lower the frequency so that there would be no wasteful radiation of energy, you have to employ a large inductance. You have to employ a capacity as large as permissible, and you must use a large inductance in order that you may reach the low frequency which is economical.
[Fig. 1]. Wardenclyffe Tower
[Fig. 2]. Improved transmitter described in U.S. Patent No. 1,119,732 of December 1, 1914. Application filed January 18, 1902.
“In a patent which appeared in April 1905, the application of which was filed on May 15, 1900 [Fig. 3], I have enunciated the law of propagation, which I have explained, and have stated that the frequencies should not be more than 30,000 or 35,000 cycles at most, in order to operate economically.
[Fig. 3]. Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy Through the Natural Medium. Patent No. 787,412, dated April 18, 1905.
“The currents are proportionate to the potentials which are developed under otherwise equal conditions. If you have an antenna of a certain capacity charged to 100,000 volts, you will get a certain current; charged to 200,000 volts, twice the current. When I spoke of these enormous potentials, I was describing an industrial plant on a large scale because that was the most important application of these principles, but I have also pointed out in my patents that the same principles can be applied to telegraphy and other purposes. That is simply a question of how much power you want to transmit.
“In Colorado I used the so-called Tesla transformer [Fig. 4]. I did not have the high frequency machine with me which I could develop as much energy for the experiments, but with my transformer I could get any amount of energy I needed. That is why I used the transformer.
[Fig. 4]. Tesla Patent 593,138 Electrical Transformer.
"The D P [in Fig. 2] is a curved plate. The plate has a large radius of curvature. You see, it is to be borne in mind that, in a general way, electricity will accumulate in the same way as the curvature of the surface has a smaller radius. This is an old truth which has been recognized 200 years ago. The design contemplates an arrangement whereby nowhere is electricity accumulated in excess. I am at a substantially uniform distribution of electricity in this structure, not only in the structure, but along the whole circuit where there is a high potential. This, of course, is simply to illustrate the principles. If you design a machine like that [referring to Fig. 2], it will be very much superior to those now in existence, but I have since that time introduced refinements and can produce very much better results than it would be possible with just exactly that construction.
"I had a 550-volt current with which I charged the condensers. These condensers I discharged through a primary in the form of an arc, sometimes I also introduced in this arc a mechanical break of several thousand per second. And I obtained a perfectly continuous train of waves as has been described in my patents. The reason why I show the condenser here [Fig. 2] is that that is synonymous with undamped waves. If I had shown the whole apparatus as arranged there, then I might still have damped waves; but whether I use an alternator or some other way of getting energy to that condenser, the condenser is usually there. For instance, if I use an alternator, I shunt its terminals with a condenser in order to magnify the current in the primary. I then tune this circuit to the alternator, and magnify the current in the primary in the ratio of the inductance to the resistance. Therefore, this condenser here stands for either method, and simply means that in this system, as is obvious from the description in the patent, the waves are undamped because high rises of potential would not be obtained otherwise. Whenever I wanted to obtain a high potential, I had to observe these rules in order to force the potential up to that value.”
***In a pre-hearing interview with his legal counsel in 1916 to protect his radio patents from the Guglielmo Marconi and the Marconi Company***
“Nikola Tesla On His Works With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, and Transmission of Power.”Twenty First Century Books, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2002.