Talking With The Planets - From Colliers Weekly

Friday, March 1, 1901
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360 T/I I. KING WIT/ will be the transmission of messages without wires, over sea or land, to an immense distance. I have already demonstrated, by crucial tests, the practicability of signalling by my system from one to any other point of thepglobe, no matter how remote, and I shall soon convert the disbelievers. I have every reasnn fur congratulating myself |_hat througllout these experiinenls, many of which \\'ere exceedingly delicate and ltazardous, neither myself nor any of my assistants received au in- jury. When working with these po\verf\1l electri- cal oscillations the most extraordinary phenomena take place at times. Owing to some interference of the oscillations, veritable balls of fire are apt to leap out to a great distance, and if any one were within or near their paths, he \vould be instantly destroyed. A machine such as I have used could easily kill, in an instant, three luuidred thousand persons. 1 observed that the strain upon |ny as- sistants was telling, and some of them could not endure the extreme tension of the nerves. But these. perils are now entirely overcome, and the operation of such apparatus. however powerful, involves no risk whatever. /\s I \vas improving |ny macliiiies for the pro- duction of intense electrical actions, I was also perfecting the means for observing feeble efforts. One of the most interesting results, and also one of great practical importance. was the develop- ment of certain contrivances for indicating at a distance of many hundred miles an approaching storm, its direction, speed and distance traveled. 'l`hese appliances are likely tn be valuable in future meteorological observations and surveying. and will lend themselves particularly to many naval uses. It was in carrying on this work that for the first time I discovered those mysterious effects \vhich have elicited such unusual interest. I had perfected the apparatus referred to so far that from my laboratory in the Colorado mountains I could feel the pulse of the globe, as it \vere, noting every electrical change that occurred with- in a radius of eleven hundred miles. I can never forget the first sensations I experi- enced when it da\vned upon me that I had ob» served something possibly of incalculnble conse- quences to mankind, I felt as though I were present at the hirth of a ne\v knowledge or the revelation of a great truth. liven now, at times, I can vividly recall the incident, aml see my apparatus as though it were actually before me. My first observations positively territied me, as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night; but at that time the idea of these disturbances being intelligently controlled I THE P/.ANETS signals did not yet present itself to me. The changes I noted were taking place periodically. and with such a clear suggestion of number :md order that they were not traceable to any cause then known to me. I was familiar, of course, with such electrical disturbances as are produced by the sun, Aurora Borealis and earth currents, and I \vas as sure as l could be of any inet that these variations were due to none of these causes. The nature of my experiments pre- eluded the possibility of the changes being pro- duced by atmospherie disturbances, as has been rasldy asserted by some. It \vas some time after- \vz\rd when the thought flashed upon my mind that the disturbances I had observed might be due tu an intelligent control. Although I could not decipher their meaning, it was impossible for me to think of them as having been entirely acci- dental. The feeling is constantly growing on me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another. A purpose was behind these electrical signals; and it \vas with this con- viction that I announced to the Red Cross So- ciety, when it asked me to indicate one of the great possible achievements of the next hundred years, that it would probably be the confirmation and interpretation of this planetary challenge to us. Since my return to Ne\v York more urgent work has consumed all my attention; but I have never ceased to think of those experiences and of the observations made in Colorado. I am con- stantly endeavoring' to improve and perfect my apparatus, and just as soon as practicable I shall again take up the thread of my investigations at the point where I have been forced to lay it down for a time. V /\t the present stage of progress, there would be no insurmountable obstacle in constructing a machine capable of conveying a message _to Mars, nor \vould there be any great dithculty in recording signals transmitted to us by the in- habitants of that planet, if they be skilled electri- cians. Communication once established, even in the simplest way, as by a n1ere interchange of numbers, the progress toward more intelligible connnunication \vould be rapid. Absolute certitude as to the receipt and interchange of messages would be reached as soon as we could respond \\ ith the number “four," say, in reply to the signal "une, two, three." The Martians, or the inhabit- ants of whatever planet had signalled to us. \vould understand at once that we had caught their message across a gulf of space and had sent back a response. To convey a knowledge of form by such means is, while very ditiicult, not impossi- ble, and I have already found a way of doing it.

Current Literature March 1901 359 Talking With the Planets* By Nn