Inventions That Failed or Were Suppressed By The Powers

History is full of inventions and discoveries that caused a sensation at the time, only to disappear a few years later, however, revolutionary their potential. In every age, there have been inventors whose battles with bureaucracy and the vested interests of giant corporations and self-seeking politicians were, like Sisyphus pushing his boulder repeatedly up the hill, doomed to fail. One advantage of living in the age of IT, however, is that now we can save these apparently forgotten or discredited discoveries from vanishing forever.

#8. Project Wardenclyffe

Project Wardenclyffe, an experiment as enigmatic as it was controversial, started off as a cooperation between two of the best-known celebrities of business and science of the time. On the science side was the brilliant physicist Nikola Tesla, on the business side the powerful banker J.P. Morgan. The monumental Wardenclyffe Tower was to be the culmination of Tesla’s efforts in the field of wireless energy transmission. J.P. Morgan invested $150,000 in the construction of the tower, which was designed to transmit signals across the Atlantic. But as we know from Tesla’s correspondence, that wasn’t nearly enough and he knew it. A more realistic sum would have been 1 million dollars. So, why did he accept Morgan’s offer and start building his tower regardless?

Image: Nikola Tesla

As in his previous project in Colorado Springs, Tesla wanted to build a station that would be capable of harnessing large amounts of energy from the air and pump it into the ground. The mushroom-shaped tower was 60 meters tall, and the steel dome at the top weighed a staggering 55 tons. A huge shaft 40 meters deep was dug underneath it where 16 metal tubes, arranged in a star shape were installed a hundred meters below the top of the tower. A structure of such size and presumed output also needed a new powerplant in its vicinity. And that is where Tesla got a hard “no” from Morgan. One of the reasons he withdrew his backing was the success of Marconi’s wireless radio, and the shrewd Morgan preferred certainty over risk, he invested in Marconi instead. Tesla looked for other backers but to no avail.

Tesla’s theories were based on the assumption that the Earth carries an electrical charge which can be harnessed to facilitate energy transmission. By setting up a whole network of towers like Wardenclyffe, Tesla hoped to attain his dream of providing free energy for everyone. Of course, the idea of free energy was not terribly appealing to the big energy corporations. Why should they provide the masses with free energy when they could keep charging them for as long as they liked? But who knows? Perhaps Tesla’s genius and vision will still be appreciated by some future generation. The Wardenlyffe Tower was demolished in 1917. Over a hundred years later, its original location was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


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Have you met Ted? Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, an amateur Poet, and as you can see- "a Blogger."

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