Reviewed by Douglas Chapman
The volumes admitted bias does not get in the way of its contentsthe detailed stories of some fascinating individuals and their work, from the valid to the highly controversialto put it mildly.
The individuals profiled are Baron Karl Von Reichenbach, Antonio Meucci, Nathan Stubblefield, Nikola Tesla, R. Raymond Rife, Thomas Henry Moray, Thomas Townsend Brown, Gavreau, and Philo Farnsworth. Most famous of these are Tesla, who harnessed the use of alternating currents of electricity, and Philo Farnsworth, the man responsible for television as we know it. The world would be far different without their like.
The books concentration is, of course, on more controversial alleged discoveries.
This leads in interesting directions. To the present reviewer, Von Reichenbachs considerations of Od energy find an interesting reflection in the Star Wars movieswhich goes unmentioned in the book. Reichenbach stated: Everything then, emits LIGHT...everything everything/We live in a world full of SHINING matter! The diminutive Jedi master Yoda, in The Empire Strikes Back, expresses similar views about the nature of the Force.
In his time, Von Reichenbach was influential, but is less so now. But the work of the tragic Wilhelm Reichnot dealt with in this bookoffers a related worldview.
Antonio Meucci, the inventor of the teletrofono (apparently the first telephone), is a case in point about how large business interests can try to ruin those who influenced their successes. Meucci developed his discoveries into rather large and workable systems, whose success was subsequently downplayed by The Bell Company. Public demonstrations of his technology were later compared to tin cans and string.
Some have claimed that Meuccis telephones were acoustic rather than electrical. However, Vassilatos writes in detail about Meuccis work at vibrating electrical current with speech.
Regarding electricity, Nathan Stubblefields earth batteries and ground radio, and Nikola Teslas broadcast power made interesting uses of wireless technology. An account of Teslas career is given in this volume, an admittedly brief look at a giant influence.
Raymond Rifes work with ultra microscopes and cure rays calls to mind the iconic image of the leading edge scientist as popularly pictured earlier this century. Dr. Philo Farnsworth, whose invention of electronic television impacted humanity as much as Teslas inventions, is claimed in this book to have invented a workable hot fusion system in 1965which was shelved by ITT, which nevertheless held tightly onto the patents.
Even a claimed true version of the elsewhere debunked Philadelphia Experiment is to be found in this volume. The present reviewer is not knowledgeable enough to judge the worth of the various technologies described in this book. Nevertheless, he finds much food for thought here, even after skepticism is applied.
The need to control power sources has occasioned war and espionage, whether from governments or companies. Were some of the inventors described in this volume the victims of these? Or were they humbugs?
One might suspect that some of their leads in this book will turn out to be fruitful, and others much less so.
Vassilatos believes the human race is centuries behind the development it could have achieved, if it had not blindly held onto a main source of energy: fire. He is anti-fire, and thus feels civilization took a wrong turn when fire and its fuels became a central fact of human existence. He writes: Fire is not the only energy which Nature has to show us. It is time again to consider what the watery song-myths of the old green forest world yet sing.
There is fire, and it kills. But Nature is a garden, a thesaurus of dynamics.
That reminder is enough of a justification for the existence of this work.