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The term “pyrotechnics” lends itself to meaning “the science of fire.” But for most people watching a fireworks display, there is not so much science, but the wonderful art of it all!
What we think of as “light” are waves or packets of energy, part of the “electromagnetic spectrum” with specific wavelengths (distance from one wave’s crest to the next) that the human eye can pick up on. Both elements and molecules can be involved in an effect called “emission,” either atomic emission (for elements in their atomic form) or molecular emission (for molecules, whether in common stable forms or in fleeting unstable forms).
There are certain elements and molecules that give off very useful wavelengths of light (colors) when they are heated.
So how does the pyrotechnician, knowing that certain chemicals give off certain colors when burned, tailor this property to the colored fireworks shells that we see every midnight on New Year’s Eve around the world and every Fourth of July here in the United States?
In this case, we have magnesium as our hot fuel that is oxidized during burning by the three other chemicals (all oxygen sources), propagating the burning reaction.
In this case, we again have our fuels that burn (red gum and magnalium, an organic and a metal, respectively), an oxidizer to provide oxygen (potassium perchlorate), and also our strontium to emit the red. Pyrotechnicians have many tools at their disposal to help them design the best colors that they can for fireworks. The pyrotechnician can also mix different colors to get nearly everything in the rainbow:  85% red and 15% blue to make maroon, 80% green and 20% blue to make aqua, or even 55% green and 45% orange to make yellow! Many tools are at the pyrotechnicians disposal to make colors for fireworks displays, for signals, and many other applications.
In this classic exposition, Nikola Tesla, famed inventor and scientist, turns his attention to "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy." More explicitly, Tesla is referring to the scientific challenges that face the continued survival and proliferation of the human race. The Problem of Increasing Human Energy With Special Reference to the Harnessing of the Sun’s Energy.
THE ONWARD MOVEMENT OF MAN — THE ENERGY OF THE MOVEMENT — THE THREE WAYS OF INCREASING HUMAN ENERGY. Of all the endless variety of phenomena which nature presents to our senses, there is none that fills our minds with greater wonder than that inconceivably complex movement which, in its entirety, we designate as human life.
Modern science says: The sun is the past, the earth is the present, the moon is the future. Though we may never be able to comprehend human life, we know certainly that it is a movement, of whatever nature it be.
When we speak of man, we have a conception of humanity as a whole, and before applying scientific methods to the investigation of his movement, we must accept this as a physical fact. For ages this idea has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth.
Man, however, is not an ordinary mass, consisting of spinning atoms and molecules, and containing merely heat-energy.
Conversely, it scarcely need be stated that everything that is against the teachings of religion and the laws of hygiene is tending to decrease the mass.
For every person who perishes from the effects of a stimulant, at least a thousand die from the consequences of drinking impure water. Gambling, business rush, and excitement, particularly on the exchanges, are causes of much mass-reduction, all the more so because the individuals concerned represent units of higher value.
How to provide good and plentiful food is, therefore, a most important question of the day.
The production of artificial food as a means for causing an increase of the human mass naturally suggests itself, but a direct attempt of this kind to provide nourishment does not appear to me rational, at least not for the present. To increase materially the productivity of the soil, it must be more effectively fertilized by artificial means. Long ago this idea took a powerful hold on the imagination of scientific men, but an efficient means for accomplishing this result could not be devised. The first advance was made in ascertaining that the chemical activity of the discharge was very considerably increased by using currents of extremely high frequency or rate of vibration. THE SECOND PROBLEM: HOW TO REDUCE THE FORCE RETARDING THE HUMAN MASS — THE ART OF TELAUTOMATICS. As before stated, the force which retards the onward movement of man is partly frictional and partly negative.
There can be no doubt that, of all the frictional resistances, the one that most retards human movement is ignorance.
It has been argued that the perfection of guns of great destructive power will stop warfare. Another argument, which carries considerable force, is frequently made, namely, that war must soon become impossible be cause the means of defense are outstripping the means of attack. Again, it is contended by some that the advent of the flying-machine must bring on universal peace. The ideal development of the war principle would ultimately lead to the transformation of the whole energy of war into purely potential, explosive energy, like that of an electrical condenser. As regards the security of a country against foreign invasion, it is interesting to note that it depends only on the relative, and not the absolute, number of the individuals or magnitude of the forces, and that, if every country should reduce the war-force in the same ratio, the security would remain unaltered.
Fortunately, the existing conditions cannot continue indefinitely, for a new element is beginning to assert itself.
A long time ago, when I was a boy, I was afflicted with a singular trouble, which seems to have been due to an extraordinary excitability of the retina.
With these experiences it was only natural that, long ago, I conceived the idea of constructing an automaton which would mechanically represent me, and which would respond, as I do myself, but, of course, in a much more primitive manner, to external influences. This principle evidently was applicable to any kind of machine that moves on land or in the water or in the air. By the simple means described the knowledge, experience, judgment — the mind, so to speak — of the distant operator were embodied in that machine, which was thus enabled to move and to perform all its operations with reason and intelligence. The automatons so far constructed had “borrowed minds,” so to speak, as each merely formed part of the distant operator who conveyed to it his intelligent orders; but this art is only in the beginning.
Although I evolved this invention many years ago and explained it to my visitors very frequently in my laboratory demonstrations, it was not until much later, long after I had perfected it, that it became known, when, naturally enough, it gave rise to much discussion and to sensational reports.
The establishment of permanent peaceful relations between nations would most effectively reduce the force retarding the human mass, and would be the best solution of this great human problem.
THE THIRD PROBLEM: HOW TO INCREASE THE FORCE ACCELERATING THE HUMAN MASS — THE HARNESSING OF THE SUN’S ENERGY.
Of the three possible solutions of the main problem of increasing human energy, this is by far the most important to consider, not only because of its intrinsic significance, but also because of its intimate bearing on all the many elements and conditions which determine the movement of humanity. But looking at all this busy world about us, on all this complex mass as it daily throbs and moves, what is it but an immense clock-work driven by a spring? So we find that the three possible solutions of the great problem of increasing human energy are answered by the three words: food, peace, work. GREAT POSSIBILITIES OFFERED BY IRON FOR INCREASING HUMAN PERFORMANCE— ENORMOUS WASTE IN IRON MANUFACTURE.
A similar inestimable advantage in the saving of energy available to man would be secured by obviating the great waste of coal which is inseparably connected with the present methods of manufacturing iron. The industrial project, as I worked it out six years ago, contemplated the employment of the electric currents derived from the energy of a waterfall, not directly for smelting the ore, but for decomposing water, as a preliminary step. The fireworks division of pyrotechnics, aside from propellants (for rockets) and explosives (for mining and military uses), is almost entirely predicated on the show effect: the loud bang, the bright flash, the whistles and crackles, the blossoming shells, and, of course, the wonderful colors around everything!
The human eye can perceive electromagnetic waves that are between approximately 380 and 740 nanometers (a nanometer, or nm, is .0000000001 meters, very small!).
These elements combine to form what we know as molecules, such as carbon dioxide CO2, water H2O, as well as barium nitrate Ba(NO3)2. When energy, in the form of heat or flame, is applied to these chemicals, the electrons in their atomic orbitals take on that energy and get “excited,” like getting a quick sugar-high. Barium and boron will give off green, strontium will give off red, calcium will give off orange, sodium will give off yellow, copper will give off blue, zinc will give of aquamarine, etc.
They have different compositions and recipes used to best emit these colors, in whatever colors they can make!
The presence of strontium nitrate and strontium oxalate, as they are reacted in this hot plasma, will accept this hot burn as energy to excite their electrons, and then releasing electromagnetic radiation upon relaxation—it just so happens that they release this energy in the form of waves that we see as bright red! For instance, an emission spectrophotometer can measure the wavelengths that it records through an optical sensor and plot those on a graph versus intensity or counts. Remember: these are *emissive* colors, they don’t work like mixing paints, but like mixing colored “gels” for stage lights. From the science of light emission, color generation is a crucial part in the art of fireworks. A classic and fascinating treatise, Tesla''s "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy" approaches the challenges to the human race from a physical science perspective. Its mysterious origin is veiled in the forever impenetrable mist of the past, its character is rendered incomprehensible by its infinite intricacy, and its destination is hidden in the unfathomable depths of the future. The existence of movement unavoidably implies a body which is being moved and a force which is moving it. But can anyone doubt to-day that all the millions of individuals and all the innumerable types and characters constitute an entity, a unit? The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one. Though this movement is not of a translatory character, implying change of place, yet the general laws of mechanical movement are applicable to it, and the energy associated with this mass can be measured, in accordance with well-known principles, by half the product of the mass with the square of a certain velocity. He is a mass possessed of certain higher qualities by reason of the creative principle of life with which he is endowed.
This mass is impelled in one direction by a force f, which is resisted by another partly frictional and partly negative force R, acting in a direction exactly opposite, and retarding the movement of the mass.
The mass will be increased by careful attention to health, by substantial food, by moderation, by regularity of habits, by promotion of marriage, by conscientious attention to the children, and, generally stated, by the observance of all the many precepts and laws of religion and hygiene.
Whisky, wine, tea, coffee, tobacco, and other such stimulants are responsible for the shortening of the lives of many, and ought to be used with moderation. This precious fluid, which daily infuses new life into us, is likewise the chief vehicle through which disease and death enter our bodies. Incapacity of observing the first symptoms of an illness, and careless neglect of the same, are important factors of mortality. On the general principles the raising of cattle as a means of providing food is objectionable, because, in the sense interpreted above, it must undoubtedly tend to the addition of mass of a “smaller velocity.” It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarous habit. We can conceive of organized beings living without nourishment, and deriving all the energy they need for the performance of their life-functions from the ambient medium. The question of food-production resolves itself, then, into the question how best to fertilize the soil. The problem was rendered extremely difficult by the extraordinary inertness of the nitrogen, which refuses to combine even with oxygen. This was an important improvement, but practical considerations soon set a definite limit to the progress in this direction. To illustrate this distinction I may name, for example, ignorance, stupidity, and imbecility as some of the purely frictional forces, or resistances devoid of any directive tendency. This is only in accordance with a fundamental law which may be expressed by the statement that it is easier to destroy than to build.
In this form the war-energy could be maintained without effort; it would need to be much smaller in amount, while incomparably more effective. An international agreement with the object of reducing to a minimum the war-force which, in view of the present still imperfect education of the masses, is absolutely indispensable, would, therefore, seem to be the first rational step to take toward diminishing the force retarding human movement.
A change for the better is imminent, and I shall now endeavor to show what, according to my ideas, will be the first advance toward the establishment of peaceful relations between nations, and by what means it will eventually be accomplished. The light of reason was not yet kindled, and the weak was entirely at the mercy of the strong.
It was the appearance of images which, by their persistence, marred the vision of real objects and interfered with thought.
Such an automaton evidently had to have motive power, organs for locomotion, directive organs, and one or more sensitive organs so adapted as to be excited by external stimuli. I purpose to show that, however impossible it may now seem, an automaton may be contrived which will have its “own mind,” and by this I mean that it will be able, independent of any operator, left entirely to itself, to perform, in response to external influences affecting its sensitive organs, a great variety of acts and operations as if it had intelligence. But the true significance of this new art was not grasped by the majority, nor was the great force of the underlying principle recognized. In order to proceed systematically, it would be necessary for me to dwell on all those considerations which have guided me from the outset in my efforts to arrive at a solution, and which have led me, step by step, to the results I shall now describe.
Many a year I have thought and pondered, lost myself in speculations and theories, considering man as a mass moved by a force, viewing his inexplicable movement in the light of a mechanical one, and applying the simple principles of mechanics to the analysis of the same until I arrived at these solutions, only to realize that they were taught to me in my early childhood.
The savage, when he warmed his frozen limbs at a fire kindled in some way, availed himself of the energy of the sun stored in the burning material. In whatever way these results may be arrived at, their practical application will necessarily involve an extensive use of iron, and this invaluable metal will undoubtedly be an essential element in the further development along these three lines. It contributes more than any other industrial product to the force accelerating human movement. In some countries, as in Great Britain, the hurtful effects of this squandering of fuel are beginning to be felt. To lessen the cost of the plant, I proposed to generate the currents in exceptionally cheap and simple dynamos, which I designed for this sole purpose. But how does a pyrotechnician, a scientist, translate chemicals into a fireworks art display for the viewer’s enjoyment? If you apply heat to water you may boil it and get steam, but if you apply enough heat to barium nitrate in the right conditions you get a very deep green flame. The electrons “jump” to what’s called a higher energy state, but they can only stay there for so long; the electrons will “relax” back down to their original states, but not without passing along that extra energy that they were given. In our example earlier, if the oxidizer (or oxygen source) barium nitrate Ba(NO3)2 is burned along with a fuel such as aluminum powder or an organic tree extract called “red gum,” the self-sustaining fire will be a green color from fleeting barium ions and short-lived chemicals in the flame.
The pyrotechnician can augment the oxygen found in air by adding a chemical oxidizer, such as potassium perchlorate KClO4 to give off its oxygens much more rapidly, aiding the fast burn. A firework that you or I may see as a deep red may look “meh” to a spectrophotometer (and vice-versa: it could give you the clearest red spectrum, but we may not think it’s that great). Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. Metaphysical proofs are, however, not the only ones which we are able to bring forth in support of this idea.
So, for instance, a cannon-ball which is at rest possesses a certain amount of energy in the form of heat, which we measure in a similar way.
His mass, as the water in an ocean wave, is being continuously exchanged, new taking the place of the old.
Such an antagonistic force is present in every movement and must be taken into consideration. But I do not think that rigorous measures of suppression of habits followed through many generations are commendable. The germs of destruction it conveys are enemies all the more terrible as they perform their fatal work unperceived. In noting carefully every new sign of approaching danger, and making conscientiously every possible effort to avert it, we are not only following wise laws of hygiene in the interest of our well-being and the success of our labors, but we are also complying with a higher moral duty. That we can subsist on plant food and perform our work even to advantage is not a theory, but a well-demonstrated fact. In a crystal we have the clear evidence of the existence of a formative life-principle, and though we cannot understand the life of a crystal, it is none the less a living being. We are the result of ages of continuous adaptation, and we cannot radically change without unforeseen and, in all probability, disastrous consequences.
But here electricity comes to our aid: the dormant affinities of the element are awakened by an electric current of the proper quality. Next, the effects of the electrical pressure of the current impulses, of their wave-form and other characteristic features, were investigated. On the other hand, visionariness, insanity, self-destructive tendency, religious fanaticism, and the like, are all forces of a negative character, acting in definite directions.
The flying-machine is certainly coming, and very soon, but the conditions will remain the same as before. The next change which should naturally follow from modern developments should be the continuous diminution of the number of individuals engaged in battle.


When a word was said to me, the image of the object which it designated would appear vividly before my eyes, and many times it was impossible for me to tell whether the object I saw was real or not.
This machine would, I reasoned, perform its movements in the manner of a living being, for it would have all the chief mechanical characteristics or elements of the same.
It will be able to follow a course laid out or to obey orders given far in advance; it will be capable of distinguishing between what it ought and what it ought not to do, and of making experiences or, otherwise stated, of recording impressions which will definitely affect its subsequent actions. As nearly as I could judge from the numerous comments which appeared, the results I had obtained were considered as entirely impossible. As a preliminary study of the problem an analytical investigation, such as I have made, of the chief forces which determine the onward movement, would be of advantage, particularly in conveying an idea of that hypothetical “velocity” which, as explained in the beginning, is a measure of human energy; but to deal with this specifically here, as I would desire, would lead me far beyond the scope of the present subject. And when there is an accidental stoppage of the machinery, when the city is snow-bound, or the life-sustaining movement otherwise temporarily arrested, we are affrighted to realize how impossible it would be for us to live the life we live without motive power.
When he carried a bundle of branches to his cave and burned them there, he made use of the sun’s stored energy transported from one to another locality.
If we succeed in burning coal by a cold process and thus obtain electrical energy in an efficient and inexpensive manner, we shall require in many practical uses of this energy electric motors — that is, iron. So general is the use of this metal, and so intimately is it connected with all that concerns our life, that it has become as indispensable to us as the very air we breathe. The hydrogen liberated in the electrolytic decomposition was to be burned or recombined with oxygen, not with that from which it was separated, but with that of the atmosphere.
Wavelengths longer than that are “ultraviolet,” and shorter than that are “infrared,” which the human eye cannot see. For certain elements and chemicals in certain conditions, that energy is released in the form of light of a very specific wavelength (or energy) that our eye perceives as color: red, blue, green, yellow, etc.
If a chlorine-containing compound, such as Teflon® (C2F4 polymer), the barium and chlorine elements will combine and the resulting unstable BaCl- “free radical” will emit an even deeper and more lovely green color due to some “orbital effects” on the electrons. The way that the human eye perceives color and wavelengths is “biased” in many ways in that we are more or less sensitive to different wavelengths, and therefore colors. John Conkling as an undergraduate research associate while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Washington College in Chestertown, MD, with a focus on energetic materials and pyrotechnics.
Lord Kelvin, in his profound meditations, allows us only a short span of life, something like six million years, after which time the sun’s bright light will have ceased to shine, and its life-giving heat will have ebbed away, and our own earth will be a lump of ice, hurrying on through the eternal night. The electrical pressure, alternating one hundred thousand times per second, excites the normally inert nitrogen, causing it to combine with the oxygen. Science, too, recognizes this connectedness of separate individuals, though not quite in the same sense as it admits that the suns, planets, and moons of a constellation are one body, and there can be no doubt that it will be experimentally confirmed in times to come, when our means and methods for investigating psychical and other states and phenomena shall have been brought to great perfection. We imagine the ball to consist of innumerable minute particles, called atoms or molecules, which vibrate or whirl around one another. Not only this, but he grows, propagates, and dies, thus altering his mass independently, both in bulk and density. The difference between these two forces is the effective force which imparts a velocity V to the mass M in the direction of the arrow on the line representing the force f. Either the mass added is of the same velocity as the old, or it is of a smaller or of a higher velocity. Every one should consider his body as a priceless gift from one whom he loves above all, as a marvelous work of art, of undescribable beauty and mastery beyond human conception, and so delicate and frail that a word, a breath, a look, nay, a thought, may injure it. There may be, besides crystals, other such individualized, material systems of beings, perhaps of gaseous constitution, or composed of substance still more tenuous. As a lump of coal which has been in contact with oxygen for centuries without burning will combine with it when once ignited, so nitrogen, excited by electricity, will burn.
Then the influence of the atmospheric pressure and temperature and of the presence of water and other bodies was studied, and thus the best conditions for causing the most intense chemical action of the discharge and securing the highest efficiency of the process were gradually ascertained.
To reduce or entirely to overcome these dissimilar retarding forces, radically different methods must be employed. But however ignorance may have retarded the onward movement of man in times past, it is certain that, nowadays, negative forces have become of greater importance. The conditions of to-day are not the result of yesterday, and a radical change cannot be effected to-morrow.
On the contrary, I think that every new arm that is invented, every new departure that is made in this direction, merely invites new talent and skill, engages new effort, offers new incentive, and so only gives a fresh impetus to further development. Were these such that it would be easier to build than to destroy, man would go on unresisted, creating and accumulating without limit. In fact, I see no reason why a ruling power, like Great Britain, might not govern the air as well as the sea. He made use of a club, stone, spear, sling, or bow and arrow, and in the course of time, instead of physical strength, intelligence became the chief deciding factor in the battle.
The apparatus will be one of specifically great power, but only a few individuals will be required to operate it. The crewless boat shown in the photograph contains its own motive power, propelling and steering machinery, and numerous other accessories, all of which are controlled by transmitting from a distance, without wires, electrical oscillations to a circuit carried by the boat and adjusted to respond only to these oscillations. There was still the capacity for growth, propagation, and, above all, the mind which would be wanting to make the model complete.
The lamp lighted is an independent wire loop, energized by induction from the coil excited by the electrical vibrations transmitted to it through the ground from the oscillator, which is worked only to five per cent.
Even the few who were disposed to admit the practicability of the invention saw in it merely an automobile torpedo, which was to be used for the purpose of blowing up battle-ships, with doubtful success.
When all darkness shall be dissipated by the light of science, when all nations shall be merged into one, and patriotism shall be identical with religion, when there shall be one language, one country, one end, then the dream will have become reality.
Suffice it to state that the resultant of all these forces is always in the direction of reason, which, therefore, determines, at any time, the direction of human movement.
The loop likewise includes an electrical condenser, and is exactly attuned to the vibrations of the oscillator, which is worked at less than five per cent. The adjustments are such that the reservoir is filled full and bursts at each alternation just at the moment when the electrical pressure reaches the maximum.
The quantity of electricity set in movement is so great that, although most of it escapes through the rim of the pan or opening provided, the ball or reservoir is nevertheless alternately emptied and filled to over-flowing (as is evident from the discharge escaping on the top of the ball) one hundred and fifty thousand times per second. Their scientific meaning and purpose now clear to me: food to increase the mass, peace to diminish the retarding force, and work to increase the force accelerating human movement.
And all this movement, from the surging of the mighty ocean to that subtle movement concerned in our thought, has but one common cause.
When he set sail to his canoe, he utilized the energy of the sun applied to the atmosphere or the ambient medium. If we are successful in deriving energy from the ambient medium, we shall need, both in the obtainment and utilization of the energy, machinery — again, iron. Though we are still far from the dreaded “exhaustion of the coal-fields,” philanthropy commands us to invent novel methods of manufacturing iron, which will not involve such barbarous waste of this valuable material from which we derive at present most of our energy. Thus very nearly the total electrical energy used up in the decomposition of the water would be recovered in the form of heat resulting from the recombination of the hydrogen. So, now we know what colors are to the eye and the brain, but how can the pyrotechnician “make” these fireworks colors? Chris continued working with the Summer Pyrotechnic Seminar series while attending the University of Virginia for graduate school in organometallic chemistry. Owing to this universal property and condition, a body, be it at rest or in motion, tends to remain in the same state, and a force, manifesting itself anywhere and through whatever cause, produces an equivalent opposing force, and as an absolute necessity of this it follows that every movement in nature must be rhythmical. We determine their masses and velocities, and from them the energy of each of these minute systems, and adding them all together, we get an idea of the total heat-energy contained in the ball, which is only seemingly at rest. What is most wonderful of all, he is capable of increasing or diminishing his velocity of movement by the mysterious power he possesses of appropriating more or less energy from other substance, and turning it into motive energy. In accordance with the preceding, the human energy will then be given by the product ? MV? = ? MV x V, in which M is the total mass of man in the ordinary interpretation of the term “mass,” and V is a certain hypothetical velocity, which, in the present state of science, we are unable exactly to define and determine.
To gain an idea of the relative importance of these cases, imagine a train composed of, say, one hundred locomotives running on a track, and suppose that, to increase the energy of the moving mass, four more locomotives are added to the train. We have become accustomed to these stimulants, and if such reforms are to be effected, they must be slow and gradual.
The majority of people are so ignorant or careless in drinking water, and the consequences of this are so disastrous, that a philanthropist can scarcely use his efforts better than by endeavoring to enlighten those who are thus injuring themselves.
Uncleanliness, which breeds disease and death, is not only a self-destructive but highly immoral habit. There is no doubt that some plant food, such as oatmeal, is more economical than meat, and superior to it in regard to both mechanical and mental performance. In view of this possibility, — nay, probability, — we cannot apodictically deny the existence of organized beings on a planet merely because the conditions on the same are unsuitable for the existence of life as we conceive it.
By far the best way, it seems to me, to meet the ravages of the evil, would be to find ways of increasing the productivity of the soil.
The rocks, disintegrated by moisture and heat and wind and weather, were in themselves not capable of maintaining life.
I did not succeed, however, in producing electrical discharges exciting very effectively the atmospheric nitrogen until a comparatively recent date, although I showed, in May, 1891, in a scientific lecture, a novel form of discharge or electrical flame named “St. One knows, for instance, what a fanatic may do, and one can take preventive measures, can enlighten, convince, and possibly direct him, turn his vice into virtue; but one does not know, and never can know, what a brute or an imbecile may do, and one must deal with him as with a mass, inert, without mind, let loose by the mad elements.
If the nations would at once disarm, it is more than likely that a state of things worse than war itself would follow. Without wishing to put myself on record as a prophet, I do not hesitate to say that the next years will see the establishment of an “air-power,” and its center may be not far from New York. The wild character was gradually softened by the awakening of noble sentiments, and so, imperceptibly, after ages of continued progress, we have come from the brutal fight of the unreasoning animal to what we call the “civilized warfare” of to-day, in which the combatants shake hands, talk in a friendly way, and smoke cigars in the entr’actes, ready to engage again in deadly conflict at a signal.
This evolution will bring more and more into prominence a machine or mechanism with the fewest individuals as an element of warfare, and the absolutely unavoidable consequence of this will be the abandonment of large, clumsy, slowly moving, and unmanageable units. But for a long time I tried in vain, and it was not, as I still clearly recollect, until I was about twelve years old that I succeeded for the first time, by an effort of the will, in banishing an image which presented itself. But growth was not necessary in this case, since a machine could be manufactured full-grown, so to speak. The vibrations produced by the oscillator were so intense that they affected perceptibly a small coil tuned to the twenty-sixth higher tone. The general impression was that I contemplated simply the steering of such a vessel by means of Hertzian or other rays. This is to say that every effort which is scientifically applied, rational, useful, or practical, must be in the direction in which the mass is moving. The discharge escapes with a deafening noise, striking an unconnected coil twenty-two feet away, and creating such a commotion of electricity in the earth that sparks an inch long can be drawn from a water main at a distance of three hundred feet from the laboratory.
The pressure is over twelve million volts, and the current alternates one hundred and thirty thousand times per second.
These are the only three solutions which are possible of that great problem, and all of them have one object, one end, namely, to increase human energy. If we realize the transmission of electrical energy without wires on an industrial scale, we shall be compelled to use extensively electric generators — once more, iron.
But, however great the influence of iron may be on the present human development, it does not add to the force urging man onward nearly as much as it might.
It is our duty to coming generations to leave this store of energy intact for them, or at least not to touch it until we shall have perfected processes for burning coal more efficiently. There will still be left on it a glimmering spark of life, and there will be a chance to kindle a new fire on some distant star. Long ago this simple truth was clearly pointed out by Herbert Spencer, who arrived at it through a somewhat different process of reasoning.
In this purely theoretical estimate this energy may then be calculated by multiplying half of the total mass — that is, half of the sum of all the small masses — with the square of a velocity which is determined from the velocities of the separate particles.
But in any given moment we may ignore these slow changes and assume that human energy is measured by half the product of man’s mass with the square of a certain hypothetical velocity. To increase the human energy is, therefore, equivalent to increasing this product, and there are, as will readily be seen, only three ways possible to attain this result, which are illustrated in the above diagram. Those who are devoting their energies to such ends could make themselves far more useful by turning their efforts in other directions, as, for instance, toward providing pure water.
By systematic purification and sterilization of the drinking-water the human mass would be very considerably increased.
In keeping our bodies free from infection, healthful, and pure, we are expressing our reverence for the high principle with which they are endowed. Such food, moreover, taxes our digestive organs decidedly less, and, in making us more contented and sociable, produces an amount of good difficult to estimate. We cannot even, with positive assurance, assert that some of them might not be present here, in this our world, in the very midst of us, for their constitution and life-manifestation may be such that we are unable to perceive them. With this object the preservation of forests is of an importance which cannot be overestimated, and in this connection, also, the utilization of water-power for purposes of electrical transmission, dispensing in many ways with the necessity of burning wood, and tending thereby to forest preservation, is to be strongly advocated. Some unexplained condition arose, and some new principle came into effect, and the first layer capable of sustaining low organisms, like mosses, was formed.
Elmo’s hotfire,” which, besides being capable of generating ozone in abundance, also possessed, as I pointed out on that occasion, distinctly the quality of exciting chemical affinities. A negative force always implies some quality, not infrequently a high one, though badly directed, which it is possible to turn to good advantage; but a directionless, frictional force involves unavoidable loss. Let pessimists say what they like, here is an absolute evidence of great and gratifying advance. Greatest possible speed and maximum rate of energy-delivery by the war apparatus will be the main object. My happiness will never be as complete as it was then, but, unfortunately (as I thought at that time), the old trouble returned, and with it my anxiety.
As to the capacity for propagation, it could likewise be left out of consideration, for in the mechanical model it merely signified a process of manufacture. The rudder, controlled by another motor likewise driven by the battery, took the place of the directive organs. There are torpedoes steered electrically by wires, and there are means of communicating without wires, and the above was, of course, an obvious inference. The practical, rational man, the observer, the man of business, he who reasons, calculates, or determines in advance, carefully applies his effort so that when coming into effect it will be in the direction of the movement, making it thus most efficient, and in this knowledge and ability lies the secret of his success.
When we recognize this, we cannot help wondering how profoundly wise and scientific and how immensely practical the Christian religion is, and in what a marked contrast it stands in this respect to other religions. Whatever we may do, iron will probably be the chief means of accomplishment in the near future, possibly more so than in the past. First of all, its manufacture as now carried on is connected with an appalling waste of fuel — that is, waste of energy.
The oxygen gained as a by-product of the decomposition of the water I intended to use for certain other industrial purposes, which would probably yield good financial returns, inasmuch as this is the cheapest way of obtaining this gas in large quantities. This wonderful possibility seems, indeed, to exist, judging from Professor Dewar’s beautiful experiments with liquid air, which show that germs of organic life are not destroyed by cold, no matter how intense; consequently they may be transmitted through the interstellar space. It is borne out in everything we perceive — in the movement of a planet, in the surging and ebbing of the tide, in the reverberations of the air, the swinging of a pendulum, the oscillations of an electric current, and in the infinitely varied phenomena of organic life.
And now I see stricken down an enemy, a lump of matter which, of all the lumps of matter in the universe, I care least for, and it still grieves me.
In like manner we may conceive of human energy being measured by half the human mass multiplied with the square of a velocity which we are not yet able to compute. However we may compute this velocity, and whatever we may take as the standard of its measure, we must, in harmony with this conception, come to the conclusion that the great problem of science is, and always will be, to increase the energy thus defined. The first way, shown in the top figure, is to increase the mass (as indicated by the dotted circle), leaving the two opposing forces the same.
This simple illustration shows that it is of the greatest importance to add mass of a higher velocity.
It should be made a rigid rule — which might be enforced by law — to boil or to sterilize otherwise the drinking-water in every household and public place.
He who follows the precepts of hygiene in this spirit is proving himself, so far, truly religious. In view of these facts every effort should be made to stop the wanton and cruel slaughter of animals, which must be destructive to our morals.
These, by their life and death, added more of the life-sustaining quality to the soil, and higher organisms could then subsist, and so on and on, until at last highly developed plant and animal life could flourish.


This discharge or flame was then only three or four inches long, its chemical action was likewise very feeble, and consequently the process of oxidation of nitrogen was wasteful. From an insignificant brush-discharge a few inches long it developed into a marvelous electrical phenomenon, a roaring blaze, devouring the nitrogen of the atmosphere and measuring sixty or seventy feet across. Evidently, then, the first and general answer to the above question is: turn all negative force in the right direction and reduce all frictional force.
When we consider the millions of individuals, often the ablest in mind and body, the flower of humanity, who are compelled to a life of inactivity and unproductiveness, the immense sums of money daily required for the maintenance of armies and war apparatus, representing ever so much of human energy, all the effort uselessly spent in the production of arms and implements of destruction, the loss of life and the fostering of a barbarous spirit, we are appalled at the inestimable loss to mankind which the existence of these deplorable conditions must involve. We have seen recently that even the nobel effort of the man invested with the greatest worldly power has been virtually without effect.
Let us imagine ourselves living in that period: would we not have thought then that warfare was at an end, when the armor of the knight became an object of ridicule, when bodily strength and skill, meaning so much before, became of comparatively little value? Defense will always have the advantage over attack, but this alone, it seems to me, can never stop war. The loss of life will become smaller and smaller, and finally, the number of the individuals continuously diminishing, merely machines will meet in a contest without blood-shed, the nations being simply interested, ambitious spectators. Whether the automaton be of flesh and bone, or of wood and steel, it mattered little, provided it could perform all the duties required of it like an intelligent being.
As to the sensitive organ, obviously the first thought was to utilize a device responsive to rays of light, like a selenium cell, to represent the human eye. Every new fact discovered, every new experience or new element added to our knowledge and entering into the domain of reason, affects the same and, therefore, changes the direction of movement, which, however, must always take place along the resultant of all those efforts which, at that time, we designate as reasonable, that is, self-preserving, useful, profitable, or practical. It is unmistakably the result of practical experiment and scientific observation which have extended through the ages, while other religions seem to be the outcome of merely abstract reasoning. How long its reign will last is difficult to tell, for even now aluminium is looming up as a threatening competitor. We should be able to manufacture the iron we require by using the sun’s energy, without wasting any coal at all. Meanwhile the cheering lights of science and art, ever increasing in intensity, illuminate our path, and marvels they disclose, and the enjoyments they offer, make us measurably forgetful of the gloomy future.
Therein, too, is to be found the partial explanation of many of those marvelous phenomena of heredity which are the result of countless centuries of feeble but persistent influence. But our deficiency in this knowledge will not vitiate the truth of the deductions I shall draw, which rest on the firm basis that the same laws of mass and force govern throughout nature.
Many years ago, stimulated by the perusal of that deeply interesting work, Draper’s “History of the Intellectual Development of Europe,” depicting so vividly human movement, I recognized that to solve this eternal problem must ever be the chief task of the man of science.
The second way is to reduce the retarding force R to a smaller value r, leaving the mass and the impelling force the same, as diagrammatically shown in the middle figure. Stated more to the point, if, for example, the children be of the same degree of enlightenment as the parents, — that is, mass of the “same velocity,” — the energy will simply increase proportionately to the number added.
Laxity of morals is a terrible evil, which poisons both mind and body, and which is responsible for a great reduction of the human mass in some countries. To free ourselves from animal instincts and appetites, which keep us down, we should begin at the very root from which we spring: we should effect a radical reform in the character of the food.
But though the theories are, even now, not in agreement as to how fertilization is effected, it is a fact, only too well ascertained, that the soil cannot indefinitely sustain life, and some way must be found to supply it with the substances which have been abstracted from it by the plants. And no wonder, for the establishment of universal peace is, for the time being, a physical impossibility. Yet gunpowder did not stop warfare; quite the opposite — it acted as a most powerful incentive.
By the use of new principles of defense we can render harbors impregnable against attack, but we cannot by such means prevent two war-ships meeting in battle on the high sea. I noted, namely, that whenever the image of an object appeared before my eyes I had seen something that reminded me of it.
To do so, it had to have an element corresponding to the mind, which would effect the control of all its movements and operations, and cause it to act, in any unforeseen case that might present itself, with knowledge, reason, judgment, and experience. But upon closer inquiry I found that, owing to experimental and other difficulties, no thoroughly satisfactory control of the automaton could be effected by light, radiant heat, Hertzian radiations, or by rays in general, that is, disturbances which pass in straight lines through space. But the art I have evolved does not contemplate merely the change of direction of a moving vessel; it affords means of absolutely controlling, in every respect, all the innumerable translatory movements, as well as the operations of all the internal organs, no matter how many, of an individualized automaton. These efforts concern our daily life, our necessities and comforts, our work and business, and it is these which drive man onward. Work, untiring effort, useful and accumulative, with periods of rest and recuperation aiming at higher efficiency, is its chief and ever-recurring command. Another answer we have now found to the above great question: To increase the force accelerating human movement means to turn to the uses of man more of the sun’s energy. But for the time being, next to providing new resources of energy, it is of the greatest importance to making improvements in the manufacture and utilization of iron. A good part of it goes to create frictional resistances, while still another large part is the means of developing negative forces greatly retarding human movement. As an effort to this end the idea of smelting iron ores by electric currents obtained from the energy of falling water has naturally suggested itself to many. Birth, growth, old age, and death of an individual, family, race, or nation, what is it all but a rhythm? The third way, which is illustrated in the last figure, is to increase the impelling force f to a higher value F, while the mass and the retarding force R remain unaltered. If they are less intelligent or advanced, or mass of “smaller velocity,” there will be a very slight gain in the energy; but if they are further advanced, or mass of “higher velocity,” then the new generation will add very considerably to the sum total of human energy.
All ice for internal uses should be artificially prepared from water thoroughly sterilized.
The chief and most valuable among these substances are compounds of nitrogen, and the cheap production of these is, therefore, the key for the solution of the all-important food problem.
Evidently electric currents of a peculiar kind had to be produced in order to render the process of nitrogen combustion more efficient.
All is not yet done, by any means, but to what a degree my efforts have been rewarded an idea may be gained from an inspection of Fig. War is a negative force, and cannot be turned in a positive direction without passing through the intermediate phases. Nor do I believe that warfare can ever be arrested by any scientific or ideal development, so long as similar conditions to those prevailing now exist, because war has itself become a science, and because war involves some of the most sacred sentiments of which man is capable. And then, if we follow this idea to its ultimate development, we are led to the conclusion that it would be better for mankind if attack and defense were just oppositely related; for if every country, even the smallest, could surround itself with a wall absolutely impenetrable, and could defy the rest of the world, a state of things would surely be brought on which would be extremely unfavorable to human progress. But, no matter to what degree of perfection rapid-fire guns, high-power cannon, explosive projectiles, torpedo-boats, or other implements of war may be brought, no matter how destructive they may be made, that condition can never be reached through any such development.
In the first instances I thought this to be purely accidental, but soon I convinced myself that it was not so. But this element I could easily embody in it by conveying to it my own intelligence, my own understanding. One of the reasons was that any obstacle coming between the operator and the distant automaton would place it beyond his control. Criticisms to the effect that the control of the automaton could be interfered with were made by people who do not even dream of the wonderful results which can be accomplished by use of electrical vibrations.
Thus we are inspired both by Christianity and Science to do our utmost toward increasing the performance of mankind.
We honor and revere those great men of bygone times whose names are linked with immortal achievements, who have proved themselves benefactors of humanity — the religious reformer with his wise maxims of life, the philosopher with his deep truths, the mathematician with his formul?, the physicist with his laws, the discover with his principles and secrets wrested from nature, the artist with his forms of the beautiful; but who honors him, the greatest of all, — who can tell the name of him, — who first turned to use the sun’s energy to save the effort of a weak fellow-creature?
It is characteristic of modern development that progress has been effected in the same order. Great advances are possible in these latter directions, which, if brought about, would enormously increase the useful performance of mankind. I have myself spent much time in endeavoring to evolve such a practical process, which would enable iron to be manufactured at small cost. All life-manifestation, then, even in its most intricate form, as exemplified in man, however involved and inscrutable, is only a movement, to which the same general laws of movement which govern throughout the physical universe must be applicable. Evidently fixed limits exist as regards increase of mass and reduction of retarding force, but the impelling force can be increased indefinitely. Any addition of mass of “smaller velocity,” beyond that indispensable amount required by the law expressed in the proverb, “Mens sana in corpore sano,” should be strenuously opposed.
The importance of eliminating germs of disease from the city water is generally recognized, but little is being done to improve the existing conditions, as no satisfactory method of sterilizing great quantities of water has yet been brought forward. For example, the society life, modern education and pursuits of women, tending to draw them away from their household duties and make men out of them, must needs detract from the elevating ideal they represent, diminish the artistic creative power, and cause sterility and a general weakening of the race.
Our atmosphere contains an inexhaustible amount of nitrogen, and could we but oxidize it and produce these compounds, an incalculable benefit for mankind would follow. It is the problem of making a wheel, rotating one way, turn in the opposite direction without slowing it down, stopping it, and speeding it up again the other way. In fact, it is doubtful whether men who would not be ready to fight for a high principle would be good for anything at all. It is by abolishing all the barriers which separate nations and countries that civilization is best furthered. All such implements require men for their operation; men are indispensable parts of the machinery.
A visual impression, consciously or unconsciously received, invariably preceded the appearance of the image. So this invention was evolved, and so a new art came into existence, for which the name “telautomatics” has been suggested, which means the art of controlling the movements and operations of distant automatons. Another reason was that the sensitive device representing the eye would have to be in a definite position with respect to the distant controlling apparatus, and this necessity would impose great limitations in the control. That was man’s first act of scientific philanthropy, and its consequences have been incalculable. The utilization of the energy stored in wood or coal, or, generally speaking, fuel, led to the steam-engine. It is impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the magnitude of this greatest of all retarding forces, but it is certainly very considerable. After a prolonged investigation of the subject, finding that it was unprofitable to use the currents generated directly for smelting the ore, I devised a method which is far more economical.
Each of these three possible solutions presents a different aspect of the main problem of increasing human energy, which is thus divided into three distinct problems, to be successively considered.
For instance, the mere development of muscle, as aimed at in some of our colleges, I consider equivalent to adding mass of “smaller velocity,” and I would not commend it, although my views were different when I was a student myself. By improved electrical appliances we are now enabled to produce ozone cheaply and in large amounts, and this ideal disinfectant seems to offer a happy solution of the important question. A thousand other evils might be mentioned, but all put together, in their bearing upon the problem under discussion, they would not equal a single one, the want of food, brought on by poverty, destitution, and famine. Gradually the desire arose in me to find out, every time, what caused the images to appear, and the satisfaction of this desire soon became a necessity. Still another and very important reason was that, in using rays, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to give to the automaton individual features or characteristics distinguishing it from other machines of this kind. Certainly, by the use of this principle, an arm for attack as well as defense may be provided, of a destructiveness all the greater as the principle is applicable to submarine and aerial vessels. Next a great stride in advance was made in energy-transportation by the use of electricity, which permitted the transfer of energy from one locality to another without transporting the material.
If the present positive impelling force due to all useful applications of iron be represented by ten, for instance, I should not think it exaggeration to estimate the negative force of war, with due consideration of all its retarding influences and results, at, say, six.
Moderate exercise, insuring the right balance between mind and body, and the highest efficiency of performance, is, of course, a prime requirement.
The flame-like discharge visible is produced by the intense electrical oscillations which pass through the coil shown, and violently agitate the electrified molecules of the air.
The next observation I made was that, just as these images followed as a result of something I had seen, so also the thoughts which I conceived were suggested in like manner.
Evidently the automaton should respond only to an individual call, as a person responds to a name. There is virtually no restriction as to the amount of explosive it can carry, or as to the distance at which it can strike, and failure is almost impossible. But as to the utilization of the energy of the ambient medium, no radical step forward has as yet been made known. On the basis of this estimate the effective impelling force of iron in the positive direction would be measured by the difference of these two numbers, which is four.
The above example shows that the most important result to be attained is the education, or the increase of the “velocity,” of the mass newly added.
Even in our enlightened communities, and not withstanding the many charitable efforts, this is still, in all probability, the chief evil. By this means a strong affinity is created between the two normally indifferent constituents of the atmosphere, and they combine readily, even if no further provision is made for intensifying the chemical action of the discharge. Again, I experienced the same desire to locate the image which caused the thought, and this search for the original visual impression soon grew to be a second nature. Such considerations led me to conclude that the sensitive device of the machine should correspond to the ear rather than to the eye of a human being, for in this case its actions could be controlled irrespective of intervening obstacles, regardless of its position relative to the distant controlling apparatus, and, last, but not least, it would remain deaf and unresponsive, like a faithful servant, to all calls but that of its master. But if, through the establishment of universal peace, the manufacture of war machinery should cease, and all struggle for supremacy between nations should be turned into healthful, ever active and productive commercial competition, then the positive impelling force due to iron would be measured by the sum of those two, numbers, which is sixteen — that is, this force would have four times its present value.
In the manufacture of nitrogen compounds by this method, of course, every possible means bearing upon the intensity of this action and the efficiency of the process will be taken advantage of, and, besides, special arrangements will be provided for the fixation of the compounds formed, as they are generally unstable, the nitrogen becoming again inert after a little lapse of time.
My mind became automatic, as it were, and in the course of years of continued, almost unconscious performance, I acquired the ability of locating every time and, as a rule, instantly the visual impression which started the thought. These requirements made it imperative to use, in the control of the automaton, instead of light or other rays, waves or disturbances which propagate in all directions through space, like sound, or which follow a path of least resistance, however curved. Its advent introduces into warfare an element which never existed before — a fighting-machine without men as a means of attack and defense. This example is, of course, merely intended to give an idea of the immense increase in the useful performance of mankind which would result from a radical reform of the iron industries supplying the implements of warfare.
To break this fierce spirit, a radical departure must be made, an entirely new principle must be introduced, something that never existed before in warfare — a principle which will forcibly, unavoidably, turn the battle into a mere spectacle, a play, a contest without loss of blood. I attained the result aimed at by means of an electric circuit placed within the boat, and adjusted, or “tuned,” exactly to electrical vibrations of the proper kind transmitted to it from a distant “electrical oscillator.” This circuit, in responding, however feebly, to the transmitted vibrations, affected magnets and other contrivances, through the medium of which were controlled the movements of the propeller and rudder, and also the operations of numerous other appliances. The continuous development in this direction must ultimately make war a mere contest of machines without men and without loss of life — a condition which would have been impossible without this new departure, and which, in my opinion, must be reached as preliminary to permanent peace.
The result illustrated makes it practicable to oxidize the atmospheric nitrogen in unlimited quantities, merely by the use of cheap mechanical power and simple electrical apparatus.
It was not long before I was aware that also all my movements were prompted in the same way, and so, searching, observing, and verifying continuously, year by year, I have, by every thought and every act of mine, demonstrated, and do so daily, to my absolute satisfaction, that I am an automaton endowed with power of movement, which merely responds to external stimuli beating upon my sense organs, and thinks and acts and moves accordingly. In this manner many compounds of nitrogen may be manufactured all over the world, at a small cost, and in any desired amount, and by means of these compounds the soil can be fertilized and its productiveness indefinitely increased. I remember only one or two cases in all my life in which I was unable to locate the first impression which prompted a movement or a thought, or even a dream. An abundance of cheap and healthful food, not artificial, but such as we are accustomed to, may thus be obtained. The answer is simple enough: produce a machine capable of acting as though it were part of a human being — no mere mechanical contrivance, comprising levers, screws, wheels, clutches, and nothing more, but a machine embodying a higher principle, which will enable it to perform its duties as though it had intelligence, experience, judgment, a mind! This new and inexhaustible source of food-supply will be of incalculable benefit to mankind, for it will enormously contribute to the increase of the human mass, and thus add immensely to human energy.
This conclusion is the result of my thoughts and observations which have extended through virtually my whole life, and I shall now briefly describe how I came to accomplish that which at first seemed an unrealizable dream.
Soon, I hope, the world will see the beginning of an industry which, in time to come, will, I believe, be in importance next to that of iron.



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