THE TESLA LECTURE IN ST. LOUIS – March 8, 1893

Source – hello-earth.com

 – The Tesla lecture was a notable feature of the convention. At first it has been proposed to deliver the lecture in a small hall, but the demand for tickets was so enormous that it was decided, as a matter of sheer necessity, to secure a larger auditorium, and this was found in the Exhibition Theatre, which seats about 4,000 people. It was, of course, practically impossible that all could hear and see, but those who were there could at least say they had seen Mr. Tesla afar off and witnessed some of his most striking experiments. The hall was crowded to suffocation, and the demand for tickets was so great that they were selling briskly for three and five dollars on the steps of the hall. Under such circumstances Mr. Tesla contended himself wisely with showing some of the more “spectacular” of his experiments, and even these were followed at a disadvantage in view of the immense distance from which most of the spectators studied them. After his introduction by Mr. Ayer, the lecturer gave a few minutes to a statement of the conditions involved in his work, and then by means of his high frequency and high voltage currents, aided by disruptive discharge from a condenser through an induction coil – as well as by direct dynamic phenomena, he produced a number of the interesting results that have already made his name famous and have charmed two worlds. He received, unhurt, currents of hundreds of thousands of volts, lit-up tubes and lamps through his body, rendered insulated wires several feet long entirely luminous, showed a motor running under the influence of these million-frequency currents, obtained a number of effects with phosphorescent lamps; and also showed how little in such work the high resistance of the filament had to do with the lighting up of ordinary 50 or 110 volt lamps. His ability to produce such effects, either with a single wire and no return, or without any wires at all, aroused the utmost interest and enthusiasm and the concluding demonstration literally brought down the house, when he showed how by simply carrying lamps or tubes into a room or hall where those currents were being developed, illumination was the immediate result.

In the opening remarks Mr. Tesla enlarged upon the grandeur of Nature, and expressed his opinion that the most wonderful of the external influences that affect us is light. Hence it followed that the most wonderful and important of the organs by which these external influences beat in upon us is the eye. Two facts were specially referred to, one of them being that the eye is the only organ capable of being affected directly by the vibrations of the ether. Another fact was that the eye would be able to distinguish objects at almost any distance, were it not for the minute particles and stray gases filling the intervening space. These absorb the energies of the ether vibrations, but in a pure medium they would travel unchecked, and the range of vision would be infinitely greater. Mr. Tesla then alluded to the importance of the part played by the eye in furnishing the race with its ideas and knowledge, and to its vital function in controlling all our motions and actions. From its teaching were derived consciousness, ideas, conceptions that were impossible without images – and images involved sight.
By these interesting stages, Mr. Tesla led up to the subject of light and thence to the part of electricity in giving us light. The general aim of the discourse was to show and explain the phenomena due to electrostatic forces, followed by phenomena produced by electro-dynamic agencies; and, then, as a third class, the light effects, Mr. Tesla’s idea evidently being to give a generalization of these phenomena, and of their relations. It was stated parenthetically, with regard to the physiological effects produced with the high tension, high frequency currents employed, that a great amount of energy may be sent into the body of a person by their means, merely because the energy was dissipated laterally from the body and was not passed through the body in the direct manner involved in the use of a low frequency current. It was due to this intense rapidity of vibration that the lecturer was able to receive with impunity currents of as high as 250,000 and 300,000 volts, and of an amount which otherwise administered would kill. The lecturer explained that he had so arranged his apparatus that in case of any failure of any part of it, the current would kindly abstain from killing him, and would only knock him down.
Many of the experiments shown have already been seen either in this country or in Europe, yet there were several novel effects…
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