July 12, 1940
Aerial Defense "Death Beam" offered to U.S. By Tesla
Noted Inventor Says His Ray Will Melt Plane Motors at 250 Mile Range
New York, July 11 - Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest electrical inventors of
the century, who reached 84 yesterday, said today he was ready to divulge to the
United States Government the secret of a "death beam" that would melt
airplane motors at a distance of 250 miles and thus would build an invisible
wall of defense around the country against attempted attack by an air force, no
matter how large.
Dr. Tesla first described his "death beam. six years ago on the day he reached 78.
Dr. Tesla, who spent this birthday at work on his inventions, offered his services to the Government in reply to a question over the telephone whether his death beam had reached the stage of practical application.
At Service of U. S.
"All my inventions,. he said, "are at the service of the United States Government.
The death beam, he said, is "based on an entirely new principle of physics
that no one has ever dreamed about." The principle, he added, was different
from those relating to the transmission of electrical power by wireless, as
announced by him several years ago.
The beam, he said, would be only one hundred-millionth of a square centimeter in diameter and could be generated from a special plant that would cost no more than $2,000,000 and would take only about three months to construct. A dozen such plants, located at strategic positions along the coast, he said, would be enough to defend the country against all possible aerial attack.
Would Melt Any Engine
The beam would melt any engine, whether Diesel or gasoline driven, and would
also ignite any explosives aboard. No possible defense against it could be
devised, as it would be all-penetrating, he declared.
Should the Government decide to take up his offer, he said, he would go to work at once and keep on working "until I collapse." However, he added, "I would have to insist on one condition - I would not suffer interference from any experts. They would have to trust me." He was in good health, he said, and felt confident he could undertake the task.
The beam, he said, involved four new inventions:
- A method and apparatus for producing rays and other manifestations of energy in free air, eliminating the necessity for high vacuums.
- A method and process for producing "very great electrical force.
- A method for amplifying this force.
- A new method for producing "a tremendous electrical repelling force.
This would be the projector, or gun, of the system. The voltages for propelling
the death beam to its objective, he stated, will attain a potential of
With this enormous voltage, he said, microscopic electrified particles of matter will be catapulted on their mission of defensive destruction.
Dr. Tesla added he was convinced that "the battleship is doomed" and that "What happens to the armored knight will also happen to the armored vessel." The Germans, he said, are not planning to invade England, but will attack its fleet.
For this reason, he said, he was convinced that money spent on battleships would be wasted. The money planned for battleships, he said, should be "directed in channels that will improve the welfare of the country."