Science: Tesla's New X-Ray Experiments

Saturday, July 25, 1896
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393 THE LITERA SCIENCE. TESLA‘S NEW X-RAY EXPERIMENTS. MONG all scientinc nien of recognized authority Nikola Tesla has stood practically alone in his views ofthe consti- tution ofthe Riintgen rays, in that he has been inclined to regard them not as vibrations but as actual streams of Hue particles pass- ing directly through the pores of material bodies. ’1`he objections to such a hypothesis are evident, and it is therefore interesting to see that Tesla adheres to it and now brings forward some special experiments that seem to strengthen it con- siderably. We quote part of a description of these experiments contributed hy the experi- menter himself to The E/frlrzkal Rn/:bw , c (july S). Says Mr. Tesla: “In the main these observations agree with the views which have forced themselves upon my mind from the outset, namely, that the rays consist of streams of minute material particles projected with great velocity. In numerous experiments I have found that the matter which, by impact within the bulb, causes the formation of the rays, may come from either of the electrodes. Inasmuch as the latter are by continued use disintegrated to a marked degree, it seems more plausible to assume that the projected matter consists of parts of the electrodes themselves rather than of the residual gas, However. other observa- tions, upon which I can not dwell at present, lead to this conclusion, The lumps of pro- jected matter are by impact further disinte- grated into particles so minute as to be able to pass through the walls of the bulb, or else they tear on' such particles from the walls, or generally bodies against which they are pro- jected. At any rate, an impact and conse- quent shattering seems absolutely necessary for the production of Rtintgen rays. The vi- hration, if there be any, is only that which is , , ,I l, impressed by the apparatus, and the vibra- r' \ tions can only be longitudinal. ,J ‘, “The principal source of the rays is invari- f \ ably the place of lirst impact within the bulb, I lr whether it be the" anode, as in some forms of I ~ tube. or an enclosed insulated body, or the lv 67 \ glass wall. \Vhen the matter thrown off from an electrode, after striking against an obstacle, is thrown against another body, as the wall of the bulb, for instance, the place of second im- pact is a very feeble source of the rays. “These and other facts will be better appreciated by referring to the annexed figure, in which a form of tube is shown used in a number oi my experiments. The general form is that described on previous occasions. A single electrode e, consisting of a mas- sive aluminum plate, is mounted on a conductor c. provided with a glass-wrapping w as usual, and sealed in one of the ends of a straight tube 6, about 5 cm. in diameter and go cm. long. The other end of thc tube is blown out into a thin bulb of a slightly larger diameter, and near this end is supported on a glass stem .r a funnelf of thin platinum sheet .... The particular object of the presently described construction was to ascertain whether the rays generated at the inner surface of the platinum funnel_/\vould be brought to a focus outside of the bulb, and further, \vhether they would proceed in straight lines from that point. For this purpose the apex of the platinum cone \vas arranged to be about 2 cm. outside of the bulb at n. “When the bulb was properly exhausted and set iu action, the glass wall below the tunnel/ became strongly phosphorescent, but not uniformly. as there was a narrow ring r r on the periph- ery brighter than the rest, this ring being evidently due to the rays retiected from the platinum sheet." By holding u phnsphorescent screen outside the bulb and shift- DIA GRAM XLLUS- TRATING 'rEsL/\`s Exr>ERmrtN'r. RY DIGEST. [Jun 25.1896 ing it to and fro, Mr. Tesla showed that the rays focus at 0. He goes on to say : "This experiment illustrated in a beautiful way the propagation in straight lines, which Riintgcn originally proved by pinhole photographs. But, besides this. an important point was noted, namely, that the Huorescent glass wall emitted practically no rays, whereas, had the platinum not been present, it would have been, under similar conditions, an eflicient source of the rays, for the glass, even by weak excitation of the bulb, was strongly heated. I can only explain the absence of the radiation from the glass by assuming that the matter proceeding from the surface of the platinum sheet \vas already in a finely divided state when it reached the glass wall .... “From the preceding it is evident that, by a suitable construc- tion of the bulb, the rays emanating from the latter may be con- centrated upon any small area at some distance, and a practical advantage may be taken of this fact when producing impressions upon a plate or examining bodies by means of a fluorescent screen."