Nikola Tesla was the brilliant scientist whose work, primarily in electricity, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries set the stage for the technological breakthroughs that shape our world today.
Tesla spent seven months in Colorado Springs in 1899 conducting experiments in wireless telegraphy and investigating the higher strata of the atmosphere.
The following paragraphs are taken from journal notes Tesla wrote about Colorado Springs.
“Owing to the extraordinary purity and dryness of the atmosphere in Colorado, sounds penetrate to astonishing distances. This is particularly true of high notes as nearly as I can judge. Certain conditions, entirely exceptional, concur at times and produce effects of this kind which are startling. A bell will ring in the city several miles away, and it would seem as though the bell would be before the very door of the laboratory. During certain nights when sleepless I have been astonished to hear the talk of people in the streets and sounds of this kind in a large radius around the dwelling not to speak of the grinding of the wheels, the rolling of wagons, the puffing of the engines, etc., which are perceptible in such a case, and with painful loudness though coming from distances incredibly great. These phenomena are so striking that they cannot be satisfactorily explained by any plausible hypothesis and I am led to believe that the strong electrification of the air, which is often noted, and to an extraordinary degree, may be more or less responsible for their occurrence.
“The dryness of the atmosphere, which is still further enhanced by the low pressure, is such that wood or other material is made what is called kiln-dry within a few hours and is rendered an insulator far more perfect than wood is ordinarily. The nails on the hands and toes dry out to such an extent that they break off very easily, in fact one has to be careful in trimming them. The skin on the hands dries out and cracks up and is apt to form deep sores particularly if, as often in experimentation, one has to wash the hands frequently.
“One does not perspire as the sweat is immediately evaporated. It is curious how quick the body gets dry when a bath is taken. Still more this is noted when the body is rubbed with alcohol. These observations are not often made, unfortunately, as the opportunities for comfort are not such as one might desire.
“The sights one sees here in the heavens above Colorado are such that no pen can ever describe. The cloud formations are the most marvelous sights that one can see anywhere. The iridescent colors are to my judgment incomparably more vivid and intense than in the Alps. Every possible shade of color may be seen, the red and white preponderating. The phenomena accompanying the sunrise and sunset are often such that one is at the point of not believing his own eyes. At times large portions of the sky assume a deep red, almost a blood red color, so intense that superstitious people might be well frightened when first seeing it as by some other altogether unusual manifestation in the heavens.”
Richard Marold is editor of the Cheyenne Mountain Kiva, the journal of the Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Center. This article comes courtesy of the Kiva. The Center’s mission is to gather and share the unique heritage and traditions of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak region. For more information, visit cmheritagecenter.org.