Tesla's Earthquake Machine
© 1997 By Gregory
Illustration by Ken Ruzic
He put his little vibrator in his coat-pocket and went out
to hunt a half-erected steel building. Down in the Wall Street
district, he found one&endash;ten stories of steel framework without
a brick or a stone laid around it. He clamped the vibrator to one of
the beams, and fussed with the adjustment until he got it.
Tesla said finally the structure began to creak and weave
and the steel-workers came to the ground panic-stricken, believing
that there had been an earthquake. Police were called out. Tesla put
the vibrator in his pocket and went away. Ten minutes more and he
could have laid the building in the street. And, with the same
vibrator he could have dropped the Brooklyn Bridge into the East
River in less than an hour.
- A few years ago, a friend mentioned that he had noticed a
peculiar pattern of the earthquake frequency in Southern
California. In all recent instances except the 1993 Northridge
blockbuster, the space shuttle had been aloft at the time.
(Conspiracy researcher and radio show host Dave "I Read It In A
Book So It Must Be True" Emory has commented on this as well.)
Even though it was meant as a joke, there are obvious implications
for anyone who could control this final frontier of the natural
world. Perhaps this has already been accomplished. In the last
years of the 19th century, technological alchemist Nikola Tesla
may have harnessed this principle to similar effect.
- Tesla has been called everything from a genius to a quack. The
fact remains that the alternating current electrical system now
used worldwide was his conception, and among other inventions he
perfected a remote controlled boat in 1897&emdash;only a few years
after the discovery of radio waves. This device was publicly
demonstrated at Madison Square Garden the next year to capacity
- In 1896, Tesla had been in the United States for 11 years
after emigrating from his native Croatia. After a disastrous fire
in his former laboratory, he moved to more amenable quarters at 46
Houston St. in Manhattan. For the past few years, he had pondered
the sigificance of waves and resonance, thinking that along with
the AC system, there were other untapped sources of power waiting
to be exploited. The oscillators he designed and built were
originally designed to provide a stable source for the frequencies
of alternating current&emdash;accurate enough to "set your watch
- He constructed a simple device consisting of a piston
suspended in a cylinder, which bypassed the necessity of a
camshaft driven by a rotating power source, such as a gasoline or
steam engine. In this way, he hoped to overcome loss of power
through friction produced by the old system. This small device
also enabled Tesla to try out his experiments in resonance. Every
substance has a resonant frequency which is demonstrated by the
principle of sympathetic vibration&endash;the most obvious example
is the wine glass shattered by an opera singer (or a tape
recording for you couch potatoes.) If this frequency is matched
and amplified, any material may be literally shaken to
- A vibrating assembly with an adjustable frequency was finally
perfected, and by 1897, Tesla was causing trouble with it in and
near the neighborhood around his loft laboratory. Reporter A.L.
Besnson wrote about this device in late 1911 or early 1912 for the
Hearst tabloid The World Today. After fastening the resonator ("no
larger than an alarm clock") to a steel bar (or "link") two feet
long and two inches thick:
- He set the vibrator in "tune" with the link. For a long time
nothing happened-&endash;vibrations of machine and link did not
seem to coincide, but at last they did and the great steel began
to tremble, increased its trembling until it dialated and
contracted like a beating heart&endash;and finally broke. Sledge
hammers could not have done it; crowbars could not have done it,
but a fusillade of taps, no one of which would have harmed a baby,
did it. Tesla was pleased.
- But not pleased enough it seems:
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- Tesla claimed the device, properly modified, could be used to
map underground deposits of oil. A vibration sent through the
earth returns an "echo signature" using the same principle as
sonar. This idea was actually adapted for use by the petroleum
industry, and is used today in a modified form with devices used
to locate objects at archaelogical digs.
- Even before he had mentioned the invention to anyone he was
already scaring the local populace around his loft laboratory.
Although this story may be apocryphal, it has been cited in more
than one biography: Tesla happened to attach the device to an
exposed steel girder in his brownstone, thinking the foundations
were built on strudy granite. As he disovered later, the subtrata
in the area consisted of sand&endash;an excellent conductor and
propogator of ground vibrations.
- After setting the little machine up, he proceeded to putter
about the lab on other projects that needed attention. Meanwhile,
for blocks around, chaos reigned as objects fell off shelves,
furniture moved across floors, windows shattered, and pipes broke.
The pandemonium didn't go unnoticed in the local precinct house
where prisoners panicked and police officers fought to keep coffee
and donuts from flying off desks. Used as they were to the
frequent calls about diabolical noises and flashes from Mr.
Tesla's block, they hightailed it over. Racing up the stairs and
into the lab, they found the inventor smashing the vibrator to
bits with a sledgehammer. Turning to them with accustomed
old-world aplomb, he apoligized calmly: " Gentlemen, I am sorry.
You are just a trifle too late to witness my experiment. I found
it necessary to stop it suddenly and unexpectedly in an unusual
way. However, If you will come around this evening, I will have
another oscillator attached to a platform and each of you can
stand on it. You will I am sure find it a most interesting and
pleasurable experience. Now, you must leave, for I have many
things to do. Good day." (Actually, another story is related of
Tesla's good friend Mark Twain, a regular visitor to the
laboratory, standing on the vibrating platform to his great
surprise and pleasure, extoling its theraputic effects while
repeatedly ignoring the inventor's warnings to get down. Before
long, he was made aware of its laxative effects and ran stiffly to
the water closet.)
- One source has it that the device "bonded to the metal on an
atomic level" and Tesla was unable to get at the controls, but it
seems more likely that the wild movements of the girder, combined
with the panic that he might bring the neigborhood down, moved
Tesla to this unsubtle action. He later mused to reporters that
the very earth could be split in two given the right conditions.
The detonation of a ton of dynamite at intervals of one hour and
forty-nine minutes would step up the natural standing wave that
would be produced until the earth's crust could no longer contain
the interior. He called his new science "tele-geodynamics."
Newspaper artists of the time went nuts with all manner of
fanciful illustrations of this theory. Tesla's fertile imagination
posited a series of oscillators attached to the earth at strategic
points that would be used to transmit vibrations to be picked up
at any point on the globe and turned back in to usable power.
Since no practical application of this idea could be found at the
time that would make money for big investors or other
philanthropic souls, (one can't effectively meter and charge for
power derived in this way) the oscillators fell into disuse.
- In the 1930s, Tesla revived the idea of tele-geodynamics to
create small, realtively harmless temblors to relieve stress,
rather than having to wait in fear for nature to take it's course.
Perhaps this idea did not remain the idle speculation of a
scientist whose star had never been on the ascendant since the
turn of the century, and we occasionally experience the devious
machinations of invisible "earthquake merchants" at the behest of
the unseen hands who wish to experiment on and control the
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