Parallel Earth: 110629
Designation: Permanent Collection
Parallel Historians: JJ Darling and Ben Tumbling. Special thanks to Laura Kandle.
Nikola Tesla (b. 1856, Smiljan, Austrian Empire) and George Westinghouse (b. 1846, Central Bridge, New York, USA), 1889
Proprietary alloy with steel finish
Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, two giants of invention, helped shape the world. From alternating current and wireless power transmission, to that pillar of American freedom, the death ray, their professional partnership produced an awesome array of life saving and life limiting technologies. What you may not know is that theirs was also a legendary friendship built on respect, passion for science, and slapstick humor.
Take, for example, the Hop-light Helmet. Wordplay? Check. Reference to classical antiquity? Check. Brilliant super science with a reckless disregard for personal safety? Check.
The artifact started as a proof of concept for the use of kinetic energy by mechanical means. Driven by research into qi, Tesla discovered that matter could express, or be expressed as, force. Westinghouse began experimenting on several ways by which this force could be applied to industrial work. The pair had recently spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. There, in the famous arms and armor collection, they found their inspiration: an ancient Greek hoplite warrior’s helmet. They imagined the helmet was a receiver of, in Tesla’s words, “a sea of kinetic energy”, energy that could have been used to drive a piston or move a train car.
To avoid being overheard in public places while collaborating, the two men would pass a notepad of bound scrap paper back and forth.
The outer parts of the machine were made with a proprietary alloy that conducted kinetic energy, acting as a kind of capacitor. Hidden mechanisms inside it then converted, focused, and released it. Once completed, it was supposed to turn brute force, amply provided by Tesla and Westinghouse’s repeated bashing of the helmet with mallets, into a clean, bright light. And it worked, for a time.
The helmet in its activated state at its lowest setting.
Experimentation came to a halt after an unfortunate incident wherein the fully charged helmet burst from its clamps, flew across the room, and buried itself in the wall next to Westinghouse’s head. According to the pair’s notes, they wouldn’t have been so quick to abandon the project had the room not been filled with possible investors at the time.
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