Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tesla's Secret

Amidst the applause she lifted her eyes from the podium. She saw him there at the back of the room. He stood just inside the edge of the doorway. His face bore a grim expression.
'I am sorry', she whispered in the ear of the moderator, 'I am sorry, I need to leave. Please excuse me.'
She smiled one last time at the crowd, issued a polite 'Thank You' into the microphone and made an abrupt exit toward the wings of the stage.

Out back, the rental car was waiting for her. He was in the driver's seat. 'They  know we are in Munich.' he stated without looking over. 'But I've made the arrangements. We are leaving now.'
Nicola Tesla  lived from 1856-1943. Born in what is now modern day Croatia, he eventually relocated to New York City to work for Thomas Edison and later, J.P. Morgan. Of his many accomplishments in the field of electrical engineering, none were as bold as his plans to build the Wardenclyffe Tower. Wardenclyffe was a revolutionary idea....a way to harness the constant cosmic energy of the Sun and to wirelessly transfer unlimited communication and electricity freely from one point to another across the globe, thus eliminating the monopoly of the oil, gas and utility companies of the early 1900's.  He applied for a patent for his Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy in 1901. However, his project was never completed and his research papers were confiscated by the United States Government upon his death.

Mae was the daughter of an electrician and an accountant.  It was her father who first introduced Tesla's inventions to her on a visit to the Leonardo Museum of Art and Science in downtown Salt Lake City. Mae felt a shiver of excitement and utter obsession enter her body the first time she heard the crackle of the Tesla Coil. She was 10 years old.

Mae entered MIT a year early with the intention of becoming an electrical engineer. Her undergraduate work gave her access to state of the art laboratories and an overwhelming number of opportunities to network with  preeminent engineers from around the world. The coursework was challenging but Mae found it only opened her curiosity to learning. She applied to graduate school at Cal Tech and was accepted into the study of Circuits and Very Large Scale Integration or VLSI for short. She had never forgotten about Tesla's lost work and it was during this period of her life that  her interest in re-discovering Tesla's inventions was re-kindled.
Unbeknownst to her graduate adviser and fellow grad students, Mae began to spend evenings in the lab recreating excerpts of Tesla's experiments.
It happened by accident, as is the case with most brilliant discoveries. Playing with equations was Mae's version of Sudoku. In the margins of her notes were written the unfinished equations of large scale electrical capacitors and energy sinks. She would visit these equations daily as a way to rest her mind from her more pressing work.  One wintry afternoon, a fellow grad student took notice of her notes. His name was Lewis. Mae allowed him to make suggestions about her scribbled notes and eventually they found themselves spending long hours deep in conversation about the intricacies of modern engineering theoretics. During one such discussion a miracle produced itself in the form of a complex and beautiful equation. They stared at each other in disbelief and then stared back at the proof that was sitting on the table before them. 'Tesla' was all Mae could manage to say.


The rest followed quickly. Mae and Lewis discreetly passed the proof along to several of their closest colleagues, most of whom were fellow grad students or friends who had entered the uneasy designation of 'post-doc'. All of them concurred....the proof appeared plausible. Fearing that their proof would be confiscated if allowed to reach the attention of the general 'powers that be' in the oil and gas industry, Mae and Lewis pooled their meager graduate stipends and made arrangements to leave the country. Through their international colleagues they created a hurried itinerary of guerrilla lectures, mainly over-seas. These lectures were based in coffee houses and basement apartments and were advertised by word-of-mouth and speculative rumor. Upon arriving at one of the prearranged lectures they were met by their friend Miguel. He handed them a small square of green vinyl. On it was written their proof in large black block lettering. A sticker. 'These are for you' he said. 'Where ever you go,  your work will follow you and it will never be lost and it can never be stolen.' His face was solemn. Already, one of the small squares lay affixed to his coffee mug.

It was as if a tidal wave swept before them. At each lecture, they were met by an ever-growing surge of supporters. The guerrilla lectures that were once held in private households and secret locations had quickly been replaced by libraries and university lecture halls. Although not yet published, the proof, known as Tesla's Secret became a sensation that rocked the foundations of applied electronics. It could no longer be kept private and Mae became increasingly nervous about the duo's safety.
The friends found themselves at TU Munich. The crowd was standing-room only. Mae was in shock. Obviously, it was becoming impossible to keep their project a close-guarded secret. Since discovering the proof, she and Lewis had been avoiding confrontation with both private industry and government officials interested in commandeering the couple's work for their own benefit. The very notion of Free Energy was frightening to Industry in their home country and there were many individuals interested in seeing its failure. Although they had received subtle hints to cease and desist with their work, there had not yet been a personal confrontation. It seemed that they had reached the inevitability of this possibility as of today....unless Lewis's plan of evasion worked.

Lewis had befriended an inventor, professor and entrepreneur in the socialist democracy of Denmark. This small nation was keen on seeing free and renewable energy available on a populous level and so after making initial contact through the correct channels, the duo was welcomed and offered intellectual asylum....if they could get to the border without problems.

They found themselves in Lyngby, outside the Technical University of Denmark's Electrical Engineering building. This was where they were to find Professor Chrisiansen, their Danish host.
Lewis had decided that it was time to publish. 'We have to go public, Mae or all of this will have been for nothing'. He was right, of course and Mae found no reason to argue with him. They secreted themselves away along with their notes in the country home of the sympathetic DTU professor and began the process of writing. It was a quick but rigorous procedure and within a few weeks, the project was completed. They submitted their paper to the journal of Science for publication. It was accepted.

The paper was published in June. Lewis found Mae outside on the grass of the lawn looking out at the sunset. 'The world will never be the same.' She sighed a long sigh. 'This is the last day of old energy. Tomorrow the race to bring unlimited clean energy into existence will begin. Lewis, I don't know what this means!'
Lewis looked at her and smiled. He sat down next to her and stared into the setting sun. 'Mae, it means we will all be free at last.' They sat in silence as the last sliver of sun sank below the horizon.

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