Definite genius, probable nutcase - Nikola Tesla's Fuelless Generatorgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Running on Empty - The Coming Petroleum Exhaustion Dieoff : One Thread
Interesting historical reading:
Nikola Tesla's Fuelless Generator
-- Scott (email@example.com), April 19, 2000
... sample snip from above Tesla link ...
A DEPARTURE FROM KNOWN METHODS - POSSIBILITY OF A "SELF ACTING" ENGINE OR MACHINE, INANIMATE, YET CAPABLE, LIKE AN LIVING BEING, OF DERIVING ENERGY FROM THE MEDIUM - THE IDEAL WAY OF OBTAINING MOTIVE POWER
Tesla stated he first started thinking about the idea when he read a statement by Lord Kelvin who said it was impossible to build a mechanism capable of abstracting heat from the surrounding medium and to operate by that heat. As a thought experiment Tesla envisioned a very long bundle of metal rods, extending from the earth to outer space. The earth is warmer than outer space so heat would be conducted up the bars along with an electric current. Then, all that would be needed is a very long power cord to connect the two ends of the metal bars to a motor. The motor would continue running until the earth was cooled to the temperature of outer space. "This would be an inanimate engine which, to all evidence, would be cooling a portion of the medium below the temperature of the surrounding, and operating by the heat abstracted(2)," that is, it would produce energy directly from the environment without "the consumption of any material."
Tesla goes on in the article to describe how he worked on the development of such an energy device, and here it takes a bit of detective work to focus on which of his inventions he meant. He wrote that he first started thinking about deriving energy directly from the environment when he was in Paris during 1883, but that he was unable to do much with the idea for several years due to the commercial introduction of his alternating current generators and motors. It was not "until 1889 when I again took up the idea of the self-acting machine(3)."
-- Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 19, 2000.