He constructed a simple device consisting of a piston
suspended in a cylinder, which bypassed the necessity of a
camshaft driven by a rotating power source, such as a gasoline or
steam engine. In this way, he hoped to overcome loss of power
through friction produced by the old system.
This small device
also enabled Tesla to try out his experiments in resonance. Every
substance has a resonant frequency which is demonstrated by the
principle of sympathetic vibration the most obvious
is the wine glass shattered by an opera singer (or a tape
recording for you couch potatoes.) If this frequency is matched
and amplified, any material may be literally shaken to
A vibrating assembly with an adjustable frequency was finally
perfected, and by 1897, Tesla was causing trouble with it in and
near the neighborhood around his loft laboratory. Reporter A.L.
Besnson wrote about this device in late 1911 or early 1912 for the
Hearst tabloid The World Today. After fastening the resonator ("no
larger than an alarm clock") to a steel bar (or "link") two feet
long and two inches thick:
He set the vibrator in "tune" with the link.
For a long time
nothing happened, vibrations of machine and link did not
seem to coincide, but at last they did and the great steel began
to tremble, increased its trembling until it dialated and
contracted like a beating heart&endash;and finally broke. Sledge
hammers could not have done it; crowbars could not have done it,
but a fusillade of taps, no one of which would have harmed a baby,
did it. Tesla was pleased.
But not pleased enough it seems: ....