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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/335

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DISCUSSION AND CORRESPONDENCE.

rection. Of course the whole notion that the 'velocity' of the human 'mass,' i.e. the space it traverses in a given time, has any connection with human progress or is of any value to anybody or anything, is absurd.

Mr. Tesla has enjoyed considerable, excellent repute as a gifted student of certain electrical phenomena and one expects a good deal from his "electrical experiments, now first published." Mr. Tesla, too, expects a good deal from them. It would take too long to even note here all the important scientific discoveries which Mr. Tesla expects to make or all the benefits which he expects to thereby confer upon mankind in general and in particular upon those who exploit his inventions. Some samples may be given. War will be rendered harmless by being reduced to a sort of game between 'telautaumata,' machines which behave "just like a blind-folded person obeying instructions received through the ear," any one of which is "enabled to move and to perform all its operations with reason and intelligence."

Says Mr. Tesla: "I purpose to show that, however impossible it may now seem, an automaton may be-contrived which will have its 'own mind.' and by this I mean that it will be able, independent of any operator, left entirely to itself, to perform, in response to external influences affecting its sensitive organs, a great variety of acts and operations as if it had intelligence. It will be able to follow a course laid out or to obey orders given far in advance; it will be capable of distinguishing between what it ought and what it ought not to do, and of making experiences or, otherwise stated, of recording impressions which will definitely affect its subsequent actions. In fact, I have already conceived such a plan."

Inasmuch as the interest in this telautomatic warfare is to be purely ├Žsthetic, it would seem as if international bull-fights or kite-flying or spelling matches or potato-races might do as well, and have the added advantage of leaving Mr. Tesla's expectations free to wander among the following prospective discoveries.

New sources of energy, Mr. Tesla thinks, may be opened up, such as a wheel which shall perform work without any further effort on our part than that of constructing it. "Imagine a disc of some homogeneous material turned perfectly true and arranged to turn in frictionless bearings on a horizontal shaft above the ground. This disk, being under the above conditions perfectly balanced, would rest in any position. Now, it is possible that we may learn how to make such a disk rotate continuously and perform work by the force of gravity without any further effort on our part. . . . To make the disk rotate by the force of gravity we have only to invent a screen against this force. By such a screen we could prevent this force from acting on one half of the disk, and the rotation of the latter would follow."

Into further particulars concerning the nature of such a screen Mr. Tesla does not enter, though it would seem a matter well fitted to engage his peculiar gifts. The 'screen against gravity' idea has already entered into a popular story, but scientific men have probably not given it much consideration.

By producing a 'sink' or reservoir of a low temperature, thereby inducing the heat of the ambient medium to transform itself in part into other forms of energy (e.g. electrical), Mr. Tesla hopes to "get any amount of energy without further effort" beyond the amount needed to create the 'sink.' We should thus employ "an ideal way of obtaining motor power," and incidentally rebuke the narrow-minded physics of Carnot and Lord Kelvin.

By means of his electrical oscillator Mr. Tesla has satisfied himself that he can transmit electrical energy in large quantities without wires. He expects that this can be done to great economic advantage. Then would come the golden age. "Men could settle down everywhere, fertilize and irrigate the soil