Tesla once said that “It seems that I have always been ahead of my time” and he meant that. He has contributed a lot to the modern society ranging from AC to robotics. Although he pioneered in many technological advancements but still many of his outlandish ideas never became a reality due to one or other reason.
Below are 5 inventions by him which never got built and could have potentially changed the world we see it.
Wireless Energy Transmission
Tesla first initially thought that the electricity can be transmitted by using Earth as a giant conductor and any receiver with the access can use the energy. According to Tesla’s lab notes, he even succeeded in sending electricity from his lab to lightbulbs sitting on the ground hundreds of feet away.
But tesla wanted to take it further and planned a 17-story tower (wardenclyffe tower ) that would send electricity from a coal-fired generator into the ground through 300 feet of metal rods, where the current would travel for hundreds of miles. He wanted wireless power delivery, believing from his experiments on radio and microwaves that he could light up New York City by transmitting millions of volts of electricity through the air.
He even got American financier J.P. Morgan to finance the building of wardenclyffe tower on the north shore of long island. Morgan later refused to give tesla any additional funding once he realized that Tesla’s plan would have crippled his other energy-sector holdings.
Tesla was convinced that a definite image formed in thought must, by reflex action, produce a corresponding image on the retina, which might possibly be read by suitable apparatus. He thought of reflecting an image on an artificial retina, taking a photograph and projecting the image on a screen.
If this can be done successfully, then the objects imagined by person would be clearly reflected on the screen as they are formed.
“I expect to photograph thought…. In 1893, while engaged in certain investigations, I became convinced that a definite image formed in thought…. [and] produced a corresponding image on the retina, which might be read by a suitable apparatus”
Nikola Tesla, 1933
It’s unlikely that Tesla’s device every came to fruition (no patent or device of similar claims was ever developed by the maestro), and no prototypes were referenced by Tesla or his contemporaries. Actually, the concept of brain windows and thought projection was explored much earlier and couldn’t cope with the technology of that time and even at present it is still a sci-fi than a reality.
While Tesla was best known for his work in electricity, this isn’t the area in which he worked in. Another major work of Tesla was Military technology. Like Alfred Nobel, Tesla believed that the best way to prevent war was to make it either utterly pointless or so catastrophic for the participants that no one would be mad enough to go to war again.
In 1898, Tesla demonstrated his radio-controlled boat, which he was able to control remotely. He presented it as the first of a future race of robots, which would be able to perform labor safely and effectively, and many credit the event as being the birth of robotics. Tesla’s plan was to develop a series of super-powered robots operated through a virtual reality system and then gifting each country with such an automaton, ensuring that each nation has equivalent firing power.
Electric-Powered Supersonic Airship
image credit: Teachradar
From the time Tesla was a boy, he had been fascinated with the idea of flight. Combining his knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineering, he began to think more about aviation after the failure of Wardenclyffe.
In 1919, Tesla discussed his work on developing a supersonic aircraft that would travel eight miles above the surface and generate speed allowing passenger to travel between New York city and London in three hours. The power would be transmitting from ground eliminating the need for aircrafts to carry fuel. The power supply is virtually unlimited, as any number of power plants can be operated together, supplying energy to airships just as trains running on tracks are now supplied with electrical energy through rails or wires.
image credit: universe today
Tesla once came up with the most this most important invention, one that would cause armies of millions to drop dead with just a beam of ray. A military weapon that would accelerate mercury particles at 48 times the speed of sound inside a vacuum chamber and shoot a high-velocity beam. Through the free air, of such tremendous energy, it will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles.
He believed that best way to prevent war was to make it either utterly pointless or so catastrophic for the participants that no one would be mad enough to go to war again and death ray would surely be a weapon against which no army would like to stand and hence maintaining the peace. But again if this technology is in one country’s hand then it will be a devastating situation and would lead to a chaos. The only way to prevent war by using this weapon would be to hand over this technology to each and every country around the globe.
Tesla offered his particle-beam weapon to numerous governments, including the United States, but the only country to show interest was the Soviet Union, which conducted a partial test in 1939.