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Tesla’s “World System” for wireless telegraphy, telephony and transmission of power was also to apply the principle of earth resonance.

Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, 1894, p. 347:

“If ever we can ascertain at what period the earth’s charge, when disturbed, oscillates with respect to an oppositely electrified system or known circuit, we shall know a fact possibly of the greatest importance to the welfare of the human race. I propose to seek for the period by means of an electrical oscillator, or a source of alternating electric currents. One of the terminals of the source would be connected to earth as, for instance, to the city water mains, the other to an insulated body of large surface. It is possible that the outer conducting air strata, or free space, contain an opposite charge and that, together with the earth, they form a condenser of very large capacity. In such case the period of vibration may be very low and an alternating dynamo machine might serve for the purpose of the experiment. I would then transform the current to a potential as high as it would be found possible and connect the ends of the high tension secondary to the ground and to the insulated body. By varying the frequency of the currents and carefully observing the potential of the insulated body and watching for the disturbance at various neighboring points of the earth’s surface resonance might be detected. Should, as the majority of scientific men in all probability believe, the period be extremely small, then a dynamo machine would not do and a proper electrical oscillator would have to be produced and perhaps it might not be possible to obtain such rapid vibrations. But whether this be possible or not, and whether the earth contains a charge or not, and whatever may be its period of vibration, it certainly is possible—for of this we have daily evidence—to produce some electrical disturbance sufficiently powerful to be perceptible by suitable instruments at any point of the earth’s surface”.


The True Wireless” Electrical Experimenter, May 1919:

“It was clear to me from the very start that the successful consummation could only be brought about by a number of radical improvements. Suitable high frequency generators and electrical oscillators had first to be produced. The energy of these had to be transformed in effective transmitters and collected at a distance in proper receivers. Such a system would be manifestly circumscribed in its usefulness if all extraneous interference were not prevented and exclusiveness secured. In time, however, I recognized that devices of this kind, to be most effective and efficient, should be designed with due regard to the physical properties of this planet and the electrical conditions obtaining on the same”

 The Future of the Wireless Art – 1908:

“When the earth is struck mechanically, as is the case in some powerful terrestrial upheaval, it vibrates like a bell, its period being measured in hours. When it is struck electrically, the charge oscillates, approximately, twelve times a second. By impressing upon it current waves of certain lengths, definitely related to its diameter, the globe is thrown into resonant vibration like a wire, stationary waves forming, the nodal and ventral regions of which can be located with mathematical precision. Owing to this fact and the spheroidal shape of the earth, numerous geodetical and other data, very accurate and of the greatest scientific and practical value, can be readily secured. Through the observation of these astonishing phenomena we shall soon be able to determine the exact diameter of the planet, its configuration and volume, the extent of its elevations and depressions, and to measure, with great precision and with nothing more than an electrical device, all terrestrial distances. In the densest fog or darkness of night, without a compass or other instruments of orientation, or a timepiece, it will be possible to guide a vessel along the shortest or orthodromic path, to instantly read the latitude and longitude, the hour, the distance from any point, and the true speed and direction of movement. By proper use of such disturbances a wave may be made to travel over the earth’s surface with any velocity desired, and an electrical effect produced at any spot which can be selected at will and the geographical position of which can be closely ascertained from simple rules of trigonometry”.

In fact, Tesla proposed two different methods by which global wireless energy transmission might be achieved. The first is by atmospheric conduction using two type-one facilities as described in the previous section. The second involves the use of earth resonance principles, the creation of manmade oscillations in Earth’s naturally existing electrical charge. This was made clear in a 1932 interview in which he makes a distinction between the transmission of electrical energy by ionization of the upper atmosphere and terrestrial resonance – [Tesla Cosmic Ray Motor May Transmit Power ‘Round Earth Brooklyn Eagle, July 10, 1932, John J. A. O’Neill:

“I also asked him if he is still at work on the project which he inaugurated in the ’90’s of transmitting power wirelessly anywhere on earth. He is at work on it, he said, and it could be put into operation. . . . He at that time announced two principles which could be used in this project. In one the ionizing of the upper air would make it as good a conductor of electricity as a metal [using a type-one transmitter in conjunction with an active receiver]. In the other the power would be transmitted by creating “standing waves” in the earth by charging the earth with a giant electrical oscillator [of the type-two design] that would make the earth vibrate electrically in the same way a bell vibrates mechanically when it is struck with a hammer. “I do not use the plan involving the conductivity of the upper strata of the air,” he said, “but I use the conductivity of the earth itself, and in this I need no wires to send electrical energy to any part of the globe.”

The earth resonance method has basis in the one-wire transmission principles spoken of in the 1893 lecture ON LIGHT AND OTHER HIGH FREQUNCY PHENOMENA (see More on One-wire Transmission above.) It is described in U.S Patent No. 787,412, “Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy Through the Natural Mediums.” Here are some statements regarding “.improvement in the art of transmitting electrical energy to a distance which consists in establishing stationary electrical waves in the earth” contained in the similar Canadian patent:

“electrical disturbances may be transmitted through portions of the earth by grounding only one of the poles of the source. Earth behave[s] much like a vast reservoir or ocean, which, while it may be locally disturbed by a commotion of some kind remains unresponsive and quiescent in a large part or as a whole. When electrical waves or oscillations are impressed upon a metallic wire, reflection takes place under certain conditions from the end of the wire, and in consequence of the interference of the impressed and reflected oscillations the phenomenon of “stationary waves” with maxima and minima in definite fixed positions is produced. The terrestrial globe may in a large part or as a whole behave toward disturbance impressed upon it in the same manner as a conductor of limited size”.

“In studying the effects of lightning discharges upon the electrical condition of the earth I observed electrical waves which were produced in the earth and which had nodal regions following at definite distances the shifting source of the disturbances. From data obtained in a large number of observations of these waves I found their length to vary approximately from twenty-five to seventy kilometre and these results and certain theoretical deductions led me to the conclusion that waves of this kind may be of still more widely differing lengths, the extreme limits being imposed by the physical dimensions and properties of the earth”.

“Figure 1 represents diagrammatically the generator which produces stationary waves in the earth, and Fig. 2 an apparatus situated in a remote locality for recording the effects of these waves”.

“In Fig. 1, A designates a primary coil forming part of a transformer and consisting generally of a few turns of a stout cable of inappreciable resistance, the ends of which are connected to the terminals of a source of powerful electrical oscillations, diagrammatically represented by D. This source is usually a condenser charged to a high potential and discharged in rapid succession through the primary, as in a type of transformer invented by me and now well known; but when it is desired to produce stationary waves of great lengths an alternating dynamo of suitable construction may be used to energize the primary A. . . . the total length of the conductor, from the ground-plate E to the elevated terminal D should be equal to one-quarter of the wave length of the electrical disturbance in the system E C D or else equal to that length multiplied by an odd number. This relation being observed, the terminal D will be made to coincide with the points of maximum pressure in the secondary or excited circuit, and the greatest flow of electricity will take place in the same. In order to magnify the electrical movement in the secondary as much as possible, it is essential that its inductive connection with the primary A should not be very intimate, as in ordinary transformers, but loose, so as to permit free oscillation. . . The spiral form of coil C secures this advantage. The powerful electrical oscillations in the system E C D being communicated to the ground cause corresponding vibrations to be propagated to distant parts of the globe, whence they are reflected and by interference with the outgoing vibrations produce stationary waves the crests and hollows of which lie in parallel circles relatively to which the ground–plate E may be considered to be the pole. Stated otherwise, the terrestrial conductor is thrown into resonance with the oscillations impressed upon it just like a wire. Three requirements seem to be essential to the establishment of the resonating condition”.

First: The earth’s diameter passing through the pole should be an odd multiple of the quarter wave length – that is, of the ratio between the velocity of light – and four times the frequency of the currents:


  • M = D/(1/4 lambda) where lambda = c/f = 4D/M and M is the odd multiple.


  • C = speed of light at 299,792 km/sec.


  • D = Earth diameter at 12,742 km.


  • M = odd multiple at 1


  • The resonant frequency is therefore given to be: f = M x C / 4D = 5.881965 (Yost)


  • The resonant frequency based upon round-trip time: f = 2(M x C / 4D) = 11.76393


“Second: It is necessary to employ oscillations in which the rate of radiation of energy into space in the form of hertzian or electromagnetic waves is very small say smaller then twenty thousand per second, though shorter waves might be practicable. The lowest frequency would appear to be six per second, in which case there will be but one node, at or near the ground-plate”.

“Third: irrespective of frequency the wave or wave-train should continue for a certain interval of time, estimated to be not less then one-twelfth or probably 0.08484 of a second and which is taken in passing to and returning from the region diametrically opposite the pole”.

“The presence of the stationary waves may be detected in many ways . For instance, a circuit may be connected directly or inductively to the ground and to an elevated terminal and tuned to respond more effectively to the oscillations. Another way is to connect a tuned circuit to the ground at two points lying more or less in a meridian passing through the pole E or, generally stated, to any two points of a different potential”.

“The specific plan of producing the stationary waves, here-in described, might be departed from. For example, the circuit which impresses the powerful oscillations upon the earth might be connected to the latter at two points”

“In collecting the energy of these disturbances in any terrestrial region at a distance from their source, the most economical results will be generally secured by the employment of my synchronized receiving transformer”.

“To complete this description, it may be stated that when it is desired to operate, independently, a great many receiving devices, by such stationary waves of different length, the principles which I have set forth in my British patent 14,579 [1901] and in my United States patents Nos. 723,188 “Method of Signaling“and 725,605 [1903] “System of Signaling” may be resorted to for rendering the signals or quantities of energy intended for any particular receiver or receivers non-interfering and non-interferable”.

Related statements from Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power:

“To give you an idea, I have prepared a diagram illustrating an analogue which will clearly show how the current passes through the globe. You know that in a solar eclipse the moon comes between the sun and the earth, and that its shadow is projected upon the earth’s surface. Evidently, in a given moment, the shadow will just touch at a mathematical point, the earth, assuming it to be a sphere”.




Diagram illustrating the mode of propagation of the current from the transmitter over the earth’s surface.

Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, pp. 137-138:

“Let us imagine that my transmitter is located at this point, and that the current generated by it now passes through the earth. It does not pass through the earth in the ordinary acceptance of the term, it only penetrates to a certain depth according to the frequency. Most of it goes on the surface, but with frequencies such as I employ, it will dive a few miles below. It can be mathematically shown that it is immaterial how it passes; the aggregate effect of these currents is as if the whole current passes from the transmitter, which I call the pole, to the opposite point, which I call the antipode”.

The phrase “a few miles below” gives the earth current propagation model a minimum skin depth of 3 miles, 15,850 feet, or 4,828 meters:

“Assume, then, that here is the transmitter, and imagine that this is the surface of the sea, and that now comes the shadow of the moon and touches, on a mathematical point, the calm ocean. You can readily see that as the surface of the water, owing to the enormous radius of the earth, is nearly a plane, that point where the shadow falls will immediately, on the slightest motion of the shadow downward, enlarge the circle at a terrific rate, and it can be shown mathematically that this rate is infinite. In other words, this half-circle on this side will fly over the globe as the shadow goes down; will first start at infinite velocity to enlarge, and then slower and slower and slower, and as the moon’s shadow goes further and further and further, it will get slower and slower until, finally, when the three bodies are on the plane of the ecliptic, right in line one with the other in the same plane, then that shadow will pass over the globe with its true velocity in space. Exactly that same thing happens in the application of my system, and I will show this next”.



Diagram illustrating the law governing the passage of the current from the transmitter through the earth, first announced in U.S. Patent No. 787,412 – “Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy Through the Natural Mediums” of April 18, 1905. Application filed May 16, 1900. See also J. Erskine-Murray, A Handbook of Wireless Telegraphy, Chapt. 17, pp. 312-330, 1913 edition, published by Crosby Lockwood and Son, London, and Appleton & Company, New York.

Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, pp. 138-142:

“This illustrates, on a larger scale, the earth. Here is my transmitter — mine or anybody’s transmitter — because my system is the system of the day. The only difference is in the way I apply it. They, the radio engineers, want to apply my system one way; I want to apply it in another way. This is the circuit energizing the antenna. As the vibratory energy flows, two things happen: There is electromagnetic energy radiated and a current passes into the earth. The first goes out in the form of rays, which have definite properties. These rays propagate with the velocity of light, 300,000 kilometers per second. This energy is exactly like a hot stove. If you will imagine that the cylinder antenna is hot — and indeed it is heated by the current — it would radiate out energy of exactly the same kind as it does now. If the system is applied in the sense I want to apply it, this energy is absolutely lost, in all cases most of it is lost. While this electromagnetic energy throbs, a current passes into the globe”.

“Now, there is a vast difference between these two, the electromagnetic and current energies. That energy which goes out in the form of rays, is, as I have indicated here, unrecoverable, hopelessly lost. You can operate a little instrument by catching a billionth part of it but, except this, all goes out into space never to return. This other energy, however, of the current in the globe, is stored and completely recoverable. Theoretically, it does not take much effort to maintain the earth in electrical vibration. I have, in fact, worked out a plant of 10,000 horse-power which would operate with no bigger loss than 1 percent of the whole power applied; that is, with the exception of the frictional energy that is consumed in the rotation of the engines and the heating of the conductors, I would not lose more than 1 percent. In other words, if I have a 10,000 horsepower plant, it would take only 100 horsepower to keep the earth vibrating so long as there is no energy taken out at any other place”.

“There is another difference. The electromagnetic energy travels with the speed of light, but see how the current flows. At the first moment, this current propagates exactly like the shadow of the moon at the earth’s surface. It starts with infinite velocity from that point, but its speed rapidly diminishes; it flows slower and slower until it reaches the equator, 6,000 miles from the transmitter. At that point, the current flows with the speed of light — that is, 300,000 kilometers per second. But, if you consider the resultant current through the globe along the axis of symmetry of propagation, the resultant current flows continuously with the same velocity of light. Whether this current passing through the center of the earth to the opposite side is real, or whether it is merely an effect of these surface currents, makes absolutely no difference. To understand the concept, one must imagine that the current from the transmitter flows straight to the opposite point of the globe”.

“There is where I answer the attacks which have been made on me. For instance, Dr. Pupin has ridiculed the Tesla system. He says, “The energy goes only in all directions.” It does not. It goes only in one direction. He is deceived by the size and shape of the earth. Looking at the horizon, he imagines how the currents flow in all directions, but if he would only for a moment think that this earth is like a copper wire and the transmitter on the top of the same, he would immediately realize that the current only flows along the axis of the propagation”.

“The mode of propagation can be expressed by a very simple mathematical law, which is, the current at any point flows with a velocity proportionate to the cosecant of the angle which a radius from that point includes with the axis of symmetry of wave propagation. At the transmitter, the cosecant is infinite; therefore, the velocity is infinite. At a distance of 6,000 miles, the cosecant is unity; therefore, the velocity is equal to that of light. This law I have expressed in a patent by the statement that the projections of all zones on the axis of symmetry are of the same length, which means, in other words, as is known from rules of trigonometry, that the areas of all the zones must also be equal. It says that although the waves travel with different velocities from point to point, nevertheless each half wave always includes the same area. This is a simple law, not unlike the one which has been expressed by Kepler with reference to the areas swept over by the radii vectors”.

“I hope that I have been clear in this exposition – in bringing to your attention that what I show here is the system of the day, and is my system — only the radio engineers use my apparatus to produce too much of this electromagnetic energy here, instead of concentrating all their attention on designing an apparatus which will impress a current upon the earth and not waste the power of the plant in an uneconomical process”.


“You say radio engineers put too much energy into the radiating part. What, as a matter of fact, according to your conception, is the part of the energy that is received in the receivers in the present system?”


“That has been investigated. Very valuable experiments have been made by Dr. Austin, who has measured the effects at a distance. He has evolved a formula in agreement with the Hertz wave theory, and the energy collected is an absolutely vanishing quantity. It is just enough to operate a very delicate receiver. If it were not for such devices as are now in use, the audion, for instance, nothing could be done. But with the audion, they magnify so that this infinitesimal energy they get is sufficient to operate the receiver. With my system, I can convey to a distant point millions of times the energy they transmit”.

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