Nikola Tesla: My Inventions What is the Death Ray?

A fascinating Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, the visionary inventor whose ideas for the transmission of Free Energy without wires was thwarted by J.D Rockefeller and his copper monopoly which was integral to the Edison Electrical company’s growing empire. Tesla was a man ahead of his time, and he fully appreciated this fact. However, Tesla did get the opportunity to introduce Alternating Current to the world, at least the Edison Company could not suppress that.
It is one of the great travesties of our age that Tesla has been so over-looked by the mainstream when he could have given the world so much to help it.

His description of his life is a quirky read, with facts about him maintaining the same suit size for most of his adult life, an innovative use of intuition and spatial awareness, a propensity for arithmetic and a passion for invention.

A Scientist and visionary of extreme proportions, Tesla was not without his low points, he frequently pushed himself too far and suffered numerous nervous collapses in his life, and he also as revealed by this book had a persuasion to trust people too much in the spirit of being practical, which led to many people exploiting his genius with lies and promise of wealth.

Tesla reveals in this autobiography a means to transmit electricity and information wirelessly, using the Earths magnetic fields as the conductor. Tesla calls it ‘Teleautomatics’, and his Magnifying Transmitter is the key. He specifically speaks of the ability to send text via this method too. This would not have played well with the copper industry as this would have meant the end of telephone, electrical and telegraph grids across the world. But his idea does, in our modern age sound eerily familiar as we now have mobile phone networks as well as wireless internet. Imagine if everything was wireless, the possibilities are endless.

“The only remedy is a system immune against interruption. It has been perfected, it exists, and all that is necessary is to put it into operation.”

A brilliant book that gives an insight to a truly brilliant Man.

Nikola Tesla: My Inventions

Scientists, futurists, and science fiction writers have been talking about it for over a century, and fans of science fiction and futurists have fantasized about it for just as long. The portable directed-energy weapon that zaps your enemies, rendering them incapacitated or reducing them to a pile of ashes!

The concept has gone through many iterations over the decades, ranging from laser pistols and cannons to phasers. And yet, this staple of science fiction is largely based in science fact. Since the early 20th century, scientists have sought to develop a working directed-energy weapon, based on ideas put forward by many inventors and scientists.

A”death ray” is a theoretical particle beam or electromagnetic weapon that was originally proposed independently during the 1920s and 30s by multiple scientists. From these initial proposals, research into energy-based weapons has been ongoing. While most examples come predominantly from science fiction, several applications and proposals have been produced during the latter half of the 20th century.
The Death Star firing its superlaser. Image Credit: Wookieepedia / Lucasfilm

Directed-energy weapons, like the Death Star’s superlaser, are a common feature in science fiction. Credit: Wookieepedia / Lucasfilm

During the early 20th century, many scientists claimed that they had created a working death ray. For instance, in September of 1924, British inventor Harry Grindell-Matthews attempted to sell what he reported to be a death ray that could destroy human life and bring down planes at a distance to the British Air Ministry.

While he was never able to produce a functioning model or demonstrate it to the military, news of this prompted American inventor Edwin R. Scott to claim that he was the first to develop a death ray. According to Scott, he had done so in 1923, which was the result of the nine years he spent as a student and protege of Charles P. Steinmetz – a German-American professor at Union College, New York.


In 1934, Spanish inventor Antonion Longoria claimed to have invented a death ray machine which he had tested on pigeons at a distance of about 6.5 km (4 miles). He also claimed to have killed mice that were enclosed in a thick-walled metal chamber.

However, it was famed inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla who provided the most detailed framework for such a device. In a 1934 interview with Time Magazine, Tesla explained the concept of a “teleforce” (or directed energy) weapon which would be capable of destroying entire squadrons of airplanes or an entire army at a distance of 400 km (250 miles).

Century Magazine photographer Dickenson Alley) of Tesla sitting in his Colorado Springs laboratory with his “magnifying transmitter” generating millions of volts. The 7-metre (23 ft) long arcs were not part of the normal operation, but only produced for effect by rapidly cycling the power switch.[117]

Photograph of Tesla sitting in his Colorado Springs laboratory with his “magnifying transmitter” generating millions of volts. Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Century Magazine/Dickenson V. Alley
Tesla tried to interest the US War Department and several European countries in the device at the time, though none contracted with Tesla to build it. As Tesla described his invention in an article titled “A Machine to End War“, which appeared in Liberty Magazine in 1935:

“this invention of mine does not contemplate the use of any so-called ‘death rays’. Rays are not applicable because they cannot be produced in requisite quantities and diminish rapidly in intensity with distance. All the energy of New York City (approximately two million horsepower) transformed into rays and projected twenty miles, could not kill a human being, because, according to a well known law of physics, it would disperse to such an extent as to be ineffectual. My apparatus projects particles which may be relatively large or of microscopic dimensions, enabling us to convey to a small area at a great distance trillions of times more energy than is possible with rays of any kind. Many thousands of horsepower can thus be transmitted by a stream thinner than a hair, so that nothing can resist.”

Based on his descriptions, the device would constitute a large tower that could be mounted on top of a building, positioned either next to shores or near crucial infrastructure. This weapon, he claimed, would be defensive in nature, in that it would make any nation employing it impregnable to attack from air, land or sea, and up to a distance of 322 km (200 miles).

During World War II, multiple efforts were mounted by the Axis powers to create so-called “death rays”. For instance, Imperial Japan developed a concept they called “Ku-Go”, which sought to use microwaves created in a large magnetron as a weapon.
Dresden, 1945, view from the city hall (Rathaus) over the destroyed city Deutsche Fotothek?

Meanwhile, the Nazis mounted two projects, one which was led by the researcher known as Schiebold that involved a particle accelerator and beryllium rods. The second, led by Dr. Rolf Wideroe, was developed at the Dresden Plasma Physics Laboratory until it was bombed in Feb. 1945. In April of that year, as the war was coming to close, the device was taken into custody by the US Army.

On January 7th, 1943, engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla died in his room at the Hotel New Yorker in Manhattan. A story quickly developed that within his room, Tesla had scientific paper in his possession that provided the most detailed description yet for a death ray. These documents, it was claimed, had been seized by the US military, who wanted them for the sake of the war effort.