Typing “Tesla Coil” in Google, yields more than 563,000 results, many describing the Tesla Coil as the premiere wireless energy transfer technology of the 20th Century that never quite became commercialized. Why is this technology still so compelling to energy enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists alike more than 100 years after its invention?
During my recent visit to Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles (see “ ‘If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!’ ”), I visited the Hall of the Eye. There I had the opportunity to see a 1937 vintage Tesla Coil originally used for medical research by Dr. Frederick Finch Strong at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
The docent who demoed the unit confirmed that transmission of electricity through the air was the original aim of this technology. My blog has recently covered WiTricity, a modern wireless electricity transmission approach (see “Although Revolutionary, WiTricity is a Technology We Cannot Adopt” and “MIT Team Invents ‘WiTricity’ Wireless Energy Transfer”). So, I asked the docent why Tesla Coils had never been commercialized. His explanation was that air-imposed electrical resistance is so great that Tesla Coils cannot compete with wired networks for transmission over long distances. I suspect this answer is only part of the reason since electromagnetic fields do permeate air (even vacuum). The visible spark (as in the above picture) occurs only when air’s break-down voltage is exceeded.
Nonetheless, some believe that Tesla Coils represent a 100-year-old viable energy transmission and generation technology that has been suppressed through the so-called Tesla conspiracy. The alleged story is that the government invaded Telsa’s residence shortly after his death and confiscated all his manuscripts pertaining to alternative energy. A huge on-going effort has been invested in pursuing the Tesla conspiracy, as evidenced by a series of Coast to Coast radio programs posted on You Tube starting with “The Tesla Conspiracy: Mark DeMucha Pt.1”.
Historical information and resources about the Tesla Coil and its inventor, Nikoli Tesla, can be obtained at the Tesla Memorial Society of New York Website.