by A Cassandra.
Written for the Science Fiction competition, prompt LIGHTNING
| Word count 894
Nicola Tesla 1942
the man who caught lightening
Nicola Tesla was sat on his usual bench, feeding his favourite pigeons. If you were not aware of his face, it is just the face of a lonely old man. But given that, he is unquestionably the person who as had the biggest effect on the world in the past thousand years. And as a result his face has been on banknotes around the world, either the intense forty-year-old, or the silly shot from when he picked up his Nobel Prize. Now he is just an old man sat feeding the pigeons.
I sat down beside him, and was about to introduce myself. When he interrupted. "You're a reporter."
"Freelance, but how could you tell."
"You were about to speak to me. No one else bothers me."
That is sad, if it is true. He is the man most directly responsible for most of the technologies that make life in 1942 all that it is. From the electric motors that move the cars in the city, to the Global Power System that powers them. My telephone may have an Edison logo on it, but it is Tesla's high frequency technology that makes it possible to carry it with me.
"Now. If you tell me the story you intend to tell. I will correct you." He smiled. "And I'll give you a quote."
"I am writing this piece for radio electronics magazine. Almost every issue includes two or three projects that include some version of your radio free energy collector. I wanted to get your explanation of how your Global Power System creates Free energy."
"Let me stop right there. It is impossible to create energy."
"That's certainly how it looks."
"No. The energy comes from the Sun. Well over one hundred thousand terawatts of it, day and night, continuously. More than we will ever need.
"Sir, I have previously written an article on photo voltaic cells. They only have one thousand watts, and then only in the mid-part of the day."
He gave my an odd look, shook his head and smiled "Son are you sure you want to be a technical journalist. At the surface of the Earth, the average day time solar energy is between eight and twelve hundred watts per square meter, depending on location. Now the is Sun shining on half of the Earth at all times. Half of the Earth, now that is a lot of square meters."
"Sunshine on the other side of the world can not be used to generate electricity here."
He was obliviously loosing patience with me, "It is a global system! A three stage process. Sunlight warms the planet. This kicks of thunderstorms. Lightning is just electricity. The trick is to make it useful and deliver it to where it is needed."
"You catch the lightning and use its electricity to power the twenty point three Hertz transmitter, like the power transmitter at Wardenclyffe."
"Wardenclyffe was a researcher site. I broadcast a signal powerful enough to go all the way round the world, and found at which frequencies it would come back in phase. Seven point eight three Hertz was the fundamental frequency of the Earth."
"No sir, its twenty point tree, As I have said we print two or three projects a week, They all use twenty point three."
"That is because if they had used the fundamental or the first harmonic, they would have had to pay me royalties. When the Government took over. So that people could be charged for their god give Sunlight, they went with twenty hertz."
"The great man always could see how to turn a dollar."
"Great man. Are you one of those Menlo sycophant?"
His eyes were shining, "I'll let you in on a little secret. It should be common knowledge. Three modified lightning rods is all it took, not one in every state. Just one on Papua New Guinea, one in Columbia and one in equatorial Central Africa. The trick was to build in to those rods a resonator, like the LC tuning circuit, or a florescent lights ballast. These resonators took the form of lumped element delay lines. The effect of this was, that the first lightning strike on a rod sets up a resonance that made subsequent strike occur in phase. With each additional push, in phase, the amplitude of the resonance built up to the point that it could hold a continuous arch of lightning. The Earth is a cavity resonator. The continuous addition of power at a rate several times' grater than humans were able to draw on it meant that the amount of power in the system built up to the point that, lightning strikes far from the collectors were being entrained to add their power to the system."
"Sir I have to say if it was that good why is it not in use today?"
"It is. All those twenty hertz towers are parasitic on the global system. They are supposed to ensure that America gets more than its fair share. But with the input to the system being so much larger than any forecast able demand, who cares."
Having given the pigeons the last of the seed, he got and walked away. Pausing he said "your quote. 'People should not be charged for Gods freely given Sunlight'."