Tesla: Lecture At Royal Institution

Friday, February 5, 1892
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132 THE ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, FEBRUARY 5, 1892. THE ELECTRICAL ENGINEER. Published BVBPY FI‘ld8.y. Price Threepenee; Post Free, Threepenee Halfpanny. Editorial and Publishing Ofllces : 139-14-0, SALISBURY COURT, FLEET STREET, LONDON. E.C. TESLA. Although Prof. Ayrton in his presidential address has raised many points suitable for discussion, and although many questions of a practical character arise out of the meetings of the City and South London and the Central London Railway Companies, not to speak of those concerning the exhibition at the Crystal Palace, it is inevitable that we give the place of honour to our guest from across the Atlantic. Till a short time ago, Tesla was a name almost unknown to English ears. A few men had watched the announcements of his work in America, and Prof. S. P. Thompson, if we remember aright, intro- duced the name of the worker and his work in the borderland of science to the English public. But the man himself is now amongst us, and after his brilliant experimental lecture in the theatre of the Royal Institution on \Ved11esday the name will become as familiar as a household word. Geissler tubes have long been shown in the laboratory and the lecture- room, and many men have thought that in the dim and distant future something practical might arise from that root. De la. Rue made' many investi- gations ; Spcttiswoode, as will be remembered from his paper at the York meeting of the British Asso- ciation, carried on the work; but perhaps above all others Crookes delved most deeply into this border- land of science. Now we have Mr. Tesla going many steps beyond his predecessors, mainly because he has called to his aid far greater “ frequencies." The field of investigation has other explorers in Lodge, Hertz, J. J. Thomson, and we believe that the work done by Willoughby Smith ought not to be lost to view. It was an excellent suggestion of the Institution to obtain the consent of the Royal Institution so that Mr. Tesla might expound his discoveries and show his experiments upon the spot which the immortal Faraday has made sacred to science. Hence it was that on Wednesday a brilliant gathering of members of the Institution met in the historic theatre to listen to the most recent and most wonderful discoveries in electrical science, and to witness experiments which to many of the audience undoubtedly came as one of the greatest surprises of the century. Mr. Tesla commenced his lecture by acknowledging his great indebtedness to Prof. Crookes, whose Work first led him to under- take investigation into what at first sight seems a field rather barren of practical results. Perhaps, however, we are sometimes too anxious to see the end before the beginning is rightly grasped; still, we agree with those who consider blind experiment a waste of time. That is, the experimenter who, Micawber like, waits to see what will turn up, cannot be placed upon an equality with the one who has an object to gain and an end in view. It would be futile to attempt to describe Mr. Tesla’s lecture or to discuss his investigations. That can only be done in a lengthy illustrated article, which no doubt will be duly forthcoming. It was perfectly evident, however, that Mr. Tesla/s object is to obtain light, to super- sede the present form of incandescent lamp by another form, to supersede the existing dynamo by another type. This is a very definite object, one that

THE ELECTRICAL ENGINEER deserves success, and one which, if it succeeds, will create a revolution in the industry. The scientific questions involved are of great interest, and will no doubt receive careful attention. Mr, Tesla. kept his audience spellbound for two hours, and at the end of that time explained he had only performed about ne-third of the experiments he wished to show. We trust that after all these years during which, as the lecturer said, the apparatus used has been common property, seine practical developnient will be found to prove its utility.