The Lightning War

Photograph/Dickenson V Alley Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Photograph/Dickenson V Alley Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published in June 2016.

Nikola Tesla, inventor and engineer extraordinaire, devoted his career to the fields of electromagnetism and wireless radio communications. On 17 May 1899, experiments in the latter took him to Colorado Springs in the United States, where he worked on the development of a system to enable wireless transmission of power. Moreover, Colorado Springs was one of the most active lightning strike areas in the country. This particular image was a publicity photograph for the largest periodical at the time, Century Magazine, and was one of 68 photos shot by Dickenson V Alley for the publication. It shows Tesla sitting in the corner of his laboratory, while his magnifying transmitter worked on generating millions of volts of electricity.

But, this photograph is not all that it seems to be and is a result of double exposure. The seven-meter long lightning bolts were shot in a darkened room, and were created by rapidly cycling the power switch. The image of Tesla sitting on a chair was made by exposing the photographic plate for the second time in the same room. However, he wasn’t a big fan of the image. In a journal that he maintained during his time at the laboratory he mentioned, “I did not like the idea of the photograph but some people find such images interesting.”

Tags: did you know, lightning, Nikola Tesla, Inventor, Electromagnetism, Dickenson V Alley