PREPARING FOR THE EXPERIMENT.
Importance Attached to the Invention--Kites May Be Used--Waves to Run from St. Paul's to the Eiffel Tower.
LONDON, Aug. 7.--A boy of twenty-three years of age appears to have revolutionized telegraphy. Just what is the limit to the application of Guglielmo Marconi's discoveries no one knows, not even himself, but it is safe to say that his invention is among the most important discoveries of this age. What he does it to transmit telegraphic messages from sender to receiver without wires, using air as the medium of passage. Others have felt sure that this could be done, including Edison and Tesla, but none has succeeded in sending a despatch any important distance save this Italian boy, whose "invention is as important as the Roentgen ray," said one of the members of the Royal Institution to me to-day, "for it will save half the cost and half the difficulties of construction of telegraph lines, and thus make possible the introduction of electrical communication to many parts of the earth now shut off by expense or by stretches of impassable territory. Besides, it will greatly add to the offensive and defensive powers of opposing armies, doing one more thing to bring universal peace about by making war too horrible for contemplation."
I have spent many hours with Marconi, and probably have seen more of the young man's patents and know more about what he hopes to do than any other outsider except members of the English company which has paid him a fabulous sum for patent rights in all countries. He is a singularly modest young chap, with big nose, high forehead and dreamy eyes--quite the typical inventor. His blond face frequently takes on the expression of a man who has drifted away from earth into realms of profound thought, and he looks ten years older than he is.
Most of Europe's really great scientists give the boy as much credit for the discovery of the value of the vertical wire in connection with existing radiators and coherers as they would give him if he had created the whole electrical scheme utilized in new instruments.
When I suggested to him to experiment for the New York World he modestly shook his head and said: "But how do I know? I have only telegraphed twelve miles. What if my instruments and my system prove unequal to the great task set before them by American newspaper enterprise? I am unwilling to predict anything."
But arrangements for the experiment are at last well under way and will be made within a few weeks. It involves the construction of new and more powerful instruments than are at present in existence. Marconi will attempt to send the New York World's motto, "PUBLICITY, PUBLICITY, PUBLICITY," from St. Paul's in London to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The importance attached to young Marconi's invention is shown by the fact that the Italian Government has been experimenting at a cost of $600 a day for weeks, has decided that it is the greatest discovery of the time and has secured patent rights for Italy, all other rights being owned by Marconi and associates in his company, which has already paid him over $60,000.
When public experiments were conducted in Italy the enthusiasm of the officials and populace over the seemingly supernatural results reached a point of almost frenzy, and the young inventor received such an ovation as falls to the lot of but few men.
Experiments made by the German Government are laughed at by German scientists, but in Berlin itself Professor Slaby carried out the most successful experiments by passing a current, without wires, through brick walls and other obstructions believed to he insurmountable by his sceptical colleagues. He had been present at experiments carried on by Preece, the chief engineer of the Government telegraphs in Great Britain, in London, and had made his own instruments, and is now carrying on public experiments daily to show that no known body has any effect on the passage of the current from sender direct to receiver.
All the Cabinet officers of Italy have paid their highest tributes to Marconi and the King and Queen, who witnessed several experiments, have said that they were wonderful.
The enterprise of the English Government in watching everything new is shown by the early experiments already referred to. Preece has all to say about telegraphy in Great Britain, and he is really the greatest practical electrician here.
I saw him to-day. He said: "While I cannot say Marconi has found anything absolutely new, it must be remembered Columbus did not invent the egg. He showed how to make it stand on end. Marconi shows how to use the Hertz radiator and Branley coherer. He has produced a new electric eye, more delicate than any other known, and a new system of telegraphy which will reach hitherto inaccessible places. But enough has been shown to prove its value. I have experimented freely with Marconi's instruments myself and I find for a certainty that they all proved of immense value to shipping and for lighthouse purposes."
It should be understood that what Preece says is important, because he has been ordered to report on the new system for the British Government. But he is naturally conservative. The World's great experiment will come off as soon as possible and will undoubtedly prove the possibility of telegraphing over land and water without wires. If sufficient elevation cannot be obtained by using St. Paul's dome and the Eiffel Tower, aluminum wires will be sent up on kites to the desired height.
The European scientific world will be widely represented at both ends of the route.
|MARCONI CABLES THE SUNDAY WORLD THE|
|SECRET OF HIS MARVELLOUS INSTRUMENT.|
(Copyright, 1897, by the Press Publishing Company, New York World.)
|(Special Despatch to The World.)|
|LONDON, August 7.|
|To the Editor of the New York World:
I have little doubt that the experiment proposed by the New York World to transmit a message--The World's motto, "PUBLICITY, PUBLICITY, PUBLICITY"--from the dome of St. Paul's in London to the Eiffel Tower in Paris will prove very interesting.
It might well prove to be very important because, while, a vertical wire one hundred feet high is required to transmit a message a distance of twelve miles, my experiments have proved that the distance over which messages can be transmitted increases in geometrical or nearly geometrical ratio to the height of the vertical wire.
Thus, while a wire thirty feet in height is required to telegraph one-and-a-half miles, a wire double that height will get a range of over five miles.
The Eiffel Tower is nearly 1,000 feet in height and it will be possible, I think, to secure elevation of at least as much from St. Paul's in London by means of kites.
According to this ratio, and acting on the theory that on the height of the vertical wire depends the distance to which a message can be transmitted, I believe these two wires 1,000 feet in the air will be sufficient to send a message from London to Paris.
Iron in the Eiffel Tower may bother us, but inasmuch as the Italian experiments were tried from the shore to an ironclad it does not seem probable that this will absolutely stop us. In that case the receiver was placed on the deck of the vessel, in the cabins, under the guns, in boilers and hidden in every other remote part of the ship which we could think of. The vertical wire on the ship was run to the masthead, and on shore the vertical of the sender was elevated to a height of 100 feet. The messages were intelligently received under many difficult and disadvantageous circumstances.
I believe that one of the greatest uses to which these instruments will be put will be signalling in war times.
Scientists have said that this plan was impracticable because the electric current would be thrown off in every direction and would therefore be as easily intercepted by the enemy's instruments as it would be by friendly machines which were waiting for the message.
This is by no means true, because in the first place, it is entirely possible to construct senders and receivers which are in "electrical sympathy," so that current sent by one instrument could only be received on a twin instrument. And beyond that the direction in which the current is to be sent from the sender can be governed by reflectors.
The vibration in the receiver is enormously smaller than vibrations caused by the charge and discharge of Hertz radiators or sender, and which sets up vibrations in ether which are essential to transmissions of messages.
But this original vibration is not utilized directly to make the receiving instrument work. It simply allows the currents of local batteries to pass through the receiving instruments.
We shall make every effort to thoroughly test the powers of the new system at once. These experiments will include the effort to go over the channel and will certainly be carried very far in Italy.
I am especially anxious to show that no matter what obstacles are placed in the way of the current passing between my instruments, the current itself will not be affected.
I am very much pleased by the interest which the New York World is taking in the matter, and am gratified to see that my theories will be so accurately explained to the American public.
I am uncertain as to the final results of my system. My discovery was not the result of long hours and logical thought, but of experiments with machines invented by other men to which I applied certain improvements. These experiments were made principally in Bologna, Italy. I used the Hertzian radiator and Branley coherer. The radiator was what would be known in telegraphers' speech as the sender and the coherer as the receiver.
Before I began the experiments these two instruments would send a message without wires a distance of from three to thirty yards, but there the power ended.
The improvements which I made were to connect both receiver and sender with first the earth and second the vertical wire insulated from the earth. The latter was by all means the more important of the two innovations.
At once instead of being limited to a few yards in results I extended the distance over which a message could be sent without wires to about two miles. I found this due principally to the vertical wire, and speaking as simply as possible I believe the following theory may explain why this was so.
Everybody knows how sound is transmitted by means of vibrations of air. For instance, if you fire a cannon the concussion produced by the explosion of the powder causes the ether to vibrate, and so far as these vibrations of air extend just so far is sound audible. In other words, sound consists of vibrations of air.
Well, my vertical wire carries the electric vibrations up into the air and produces certain vibrations in the ether, and these vibrations extend in every direction until they reach the receiving instrument. Thus a message can be transmitted through ether for as great a distance as you can cause vibrations to proceed.
The original Hertz radiator worked on the same principle, but the vibrations its two brass spheres produced were very slight. My improvement magnifies them. An Italian scientist, in speaking of the case, said: "The old Hertz radiator and old Branley coherer might be likened to the reed of an organ. By the Marconi improvements, the pipe of the organ is added. The reed would make very little noise, but when you add the reverberant power of the pipe you get a great volume of sound. Marconi's connection of both receiver and transmitter, first with earth, second with air, supplies the pipe to the reed and makes the volume of vibrations great enough so that it will reach great distances."
As a matter of fact, before I improved the receiver it was impossible to end one pole of the transmitter with the earth and the opposite poles with insulated vertical wire. It was impossible to communicate intelligible messages even thirty yards, but after I had done these things I succeeded in communicating, from the Arsenal of San Bartolomeo at Spezzia with an ironclad twelve miles away upon the water.
I have no reason to suppose that this is the limit of the possibilities of the system. Indeed, I am sure that it is not the limit. What the ultimate limit will be I cannot say. I have no idea whether or not my system will ever be able to carry messages across the Atlantic, but for land purposes it will be a complete commercial success within a comparatively short time.