Tesla, we need your peace ray!

Nikola Tesla failed to end war in his lifetime.

War clouds were again darkening Europe. On 11 July 1934 the headline on the front page of the New York Times read, “TESLA, AT 78, BARES NEW ‘DEATH BEAM.'” The article reported that the new invention “will send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles…” Tesla stated that the death beam would make war impossible by offering every country an “invisible Chinese wall.”

PBS: Tesla – Master of Lightning: A Weapon To End War

This is the so-called “Peace Ray”, the charged particle beam weapon proposed by Tesla, which he never lived to see taken seriously by any world government. Well, that’s not entirely true. Soviet Russia took an interest to the point of testing the first part of Tesla’s plan, but apparently they did not succeed. (I like to imagine a certain agent from the British Secret Intelligence Service was responsible for thwarting them) It’s a shame. How pleasant history would have been had Stalin and all those Soviet client states been in possession of the ultimate weapon of peace!

Like other inventors, I believed at one time that war could he stopped by making it more destructive. But I found that I was mistaken. I underestimated man’s combative instinct, which it will take more than a century to breed out. We cannot abolish war by outlawing it. We cannot end it by disarming the strong. War can be stopped, not by making the strong weak but by making every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself.

— Nikola Tesla

We were foolish not to listen to Tesla. Had we listened, the world would be a very different place today. Every state, failed or successful, rogue or free, would have this wonderful weapon of harmony and fraternity. Iran would have a Peace Ray. The Taliban would have a Peace Ray. Perhaps jihadists operating in Iraq could get that Sunni “Islamic State of Iraq” of theirs off the ground if only the playing field were even!

3 responses to “Tesla, we need your peace ray!

  1. Human beings are a screwed-up species. Aren’t nukes enough mutual assured destruction for us? I think we have our hands quite full enough with the genies we’ve already let out of the bottle. Man.

  2. This is possibly the finest example of sarcasm in print that I’ve seen.

    Well done.

  3. Aw, you can’t possibly mean that.

    Honestly now, I think Tesla was a really neat guy. He probably was on to something here or there that he never reaped fruit from, just judging by the degree to which the work he accomplished changed all of our lives for the better.

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