Ambitious startup plans to provide free power to the world…or kill us all

Over 100 years ago Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current, started building the Wardenclyffe Tower, a 187 foot tall device that Tesla believed could be used for wireless communication and the wireless transmission of energy. The Tesla Planetary Research Program wants to recreate a modern version of the Wardenclyffe Tower to see if will really work.

The Tesla Planetary Research Program wants to raise $800,000 in an crowdfunding project. The idea is to construct a new version of Tessla’s original design for a device that would transmit electric power around the world – for free.

That’s right, free electricity for the world.

They’ve gone back over Tesla’s original patents, notes and diaries and analyzed everything through the eyes of current day physics and engineering. They’ve concluded that Tesla was probably right (he never finished constructing the Wardenclyffe Tower). They want to use his designs to build a new tower using modern construction techniques and electronics.

The plan, if it works, would involve combining Tesla’s transmission device with a vast solar panel array to get it going. The technology is a little off beat but essentially it involves altering the earth’s electrostatic charge. According to an article on Wikipedia:

An electric current flowing through a conductor carries electrical energy. The body of the earth is an electrical conductor, nearly spherical in shape, insulated in space. It possesses an electric charge relative to the upper atmosphere beginning at about 50 kilometers elevation. When a second body, directly adjacent to Earth, is charged and discharged in rapid succession this causes an equivalent variation of Earth’s electrostatic charge resulting in the passage of electric current through the ground.

The Tesla coil transmitter, both the single and dual tower forms, is an electrical machine specifically designed to create as large a displacement as possible of Earth’s electric charge. It does this by alternately charging and discharging the oscillator’s elevated terminal capacitance at a specific frequency, periodically altering the electrostatic charge of the earth, and consequently, with sufficient power, the pressure over its entire surface. The placement of a grounded Tesla coil receiver tuned to the same frequency as the transmitter at another point on the surface results in the flow of electric current through the earth between the two, while an equivalent electrical displacement occurs in the atmosphere.

While it doesn’t seem like a single tower flipping on and off would be enough to deliver power around the world, Tesla believed that if such a device oscillated at exactly the right frequencies it would set up a harmonic resonance in the worlds electrostatic envelope that could be increased over time by giving it incremental ‘pushes.’ It’s sort of like the idea that a single person standing on a rope bridge can jump up and down at just the right intervals creating an ever increasing wave along the entire span. Or giving a child on a swing a series of little pushes at just the right moment to increase how high they swing.

Tesla also toyed with an invention based on the same theory that would do little more than tap on a building’s support beams at just the right frequency to set up ever increasing harmonic waves. Eventually those waves would become so powerful the building would collapse. He claimed to have built such a device and began testing it in his own laboratory but had to turn it off when the building began to show signs that it was actually beginning to fall apart. (The Myth Busters program tested their own version of the device on an abandoned bridge in Oakland, CA scheduled for demolition, and they too had to turn it off when they discovered that sure enough, the longer the thing ran the greater the vibrations grew.)

Of course that could be a bit of a problem if you’re talking about a ‘bridge’ of electrostatic energy surrounding the entire planet. Makes you wonder what would happen if that bridge collapsed.

I’m not so sure that it’s a good idea to start mucking around with the entire earth’s electrostatic charge but Tesla was a pretty smart cookie so maybe it will work without destroying us all.

If you want to chip in a few bucks (or a lot of bucks since the Tesla Planetary Research Program has only raised $439 toward their $800,000 goal) to fund this grand project you can find their page here.