“It seems that all my research suggests the conclusion that these are tiny particles that are so weak that they can reasonably be called neutrons. They move rapidly beyond the speed of light” said Nikola Tesla on 10th of July in 1932.
After last week, CERN scientists and Opera announced the discovery of neutrinos that travel faster than light which sparked fans of Tesla’s life and work all around the world to rush to refer to these allegations and to conclude that the great scientist was on the right tracks once again. The idea quickly took attention of some of the media.
Sadly, a glimpse into the source of the above quotation shows that the genius of our quote above is actually talking about the so-called cosmic rays and not about neutrinos per se. Namely, in the same interview Tesla describes how cosmic rays could run a small device. “Attractive properties of cosmic rays is in their constancy. They bombard us 24 hours a day and a future research would initiate discussion whether we should have facilities to store energy produced by them as they should be central to the wind, tide or light” said Tesla in the same interview.
In explaining his thoughts, Tesla said that “cosmic rays ionize the air and release charged particles – ions and electrons” adding “These charges are collected capacitors that discharge through the motor coil. I hope to be able to build the engine on a large scale utilizing this power but the circumstances are not yet ready.”‘
The particles being talked about in Tesla interview are actually neutrinos, who do not enter into any interactions with matter, according to Tesla they interact only with cosmic rays and they are mainly composed of charged protons, nuclei and electrons and occasionally antiparticle. Furthermore, he never had found that the cosmic rays travel faster than light.
The motion of any particle, including neutrinos, faster than light is not in accordance with Einstein’s theory of relativity but with some additional assumptions, such as the existence of particles of an imaginary mass – so called tahions – and the existence of extra dimensions as well as quantum gravity.
But even if we accept the idea that Tesla talked about neutrinos (terms neutrons and neutrinos have not yet been clearly defined in 1932 – neutrinos were postulated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1930 and he called them ‘neutrons’ while in 1956 Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines actually did a scientific proof of them) the facts show that he has never proved that the mysterious particles travel faster than light nor they show whether he has ever published any scientific study on this issue.
No matter how we respect the work of Nikola Tesla, it is important to understand that he is not always right in his assumptions because despite being a genius scientist he was just a man. For example in the same year of 1932 he claimed to be able to specify power to travel faster than light and also rejected the theory of relativity which later has been proved very successful in the interpretation of many phenomena of the precession of Mercury’s perihelion black holes all down through to the gravitational lens.
This trial-error theoretizing applies to other giants of science as well – it seems that in every genius lies a bit of a lunatic. The founder of the mechanics, great Isaac Newton was delighted with alchemy and the last years of his life were spent decrypting the Book of Revelation in order to determine the exact date of end of the world. Albert Einstein rejected the idea that the universe is expanding, even though he announced his own theory of relativity. Same as Johannes Kepler who has not bathed because he was convinced that washing causes the disease.
Unfortunately for science, Tesla’s extraordinary deeds together with many strange unfinished projects but also a strange statements and interests later in his life attracted a large pseudo-science followers base after his death. The “fanatic followers” to whom he revered as a prophet or a guru are actually harming his scientific reputation, which was already in turmoil due to some resourceful scientists appropriating part of his valuable patents.
What is a neutrino?
Neutrino is electrically neutral subatomic particle of weak interactions and very low mass. It actually occurs in three forms with different masses of the lightest of which can be inserted. Being neutral, it passes through matter with almost no interaction “as being shot through the fog.” Since there is no charge, it does seem that no electromagnetic force can act upon then as opposed to the electrons. The neutrino only affects weak nuclear force whose range is much shorter, the entrance and the gravitational interaction with other particles. The origin of the radioactive decay or nuclear reactions such as those that occur on the Sun.