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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 9/23/2023
Autograph Letter Signed ("Nikola Tesla"), to Carl Laemmle regarding extraterrestrial communication, 1p, 4to, New York, July 15, 1937

Fair condition, stains from adhesions to all margins and center.

Nikola Tesla seemed to have always had a brilliantly imaginative way of viewing the world. His account of discovering electricity while a young boy is a perfect example: "Tesla's favorite companion was the family's black cat, Macak. Macak followed young Tesla everywhere, and they spent many happy hours rolling on the grass. It was Macak the cat who introduced Tesla to electricity on a dry winter evening. 'As I stroked Macak's back,' he recalled, 'I saw a miracle that made me speechless with amazement. Macak's back was a sheet of light and my hand produced a shower of sparks loud enough to be heard all over the house.' Curious, he asked his father what caused the sparks. Milutin finally answered, "Well, this is nothing but electricity, the same thing you see through the trees in a storm.' His father's answer, equating the sparks with lighting, fascinated the young boy. As Tesla continued to stroke Macak, he began to wonder, 'Is nature a gigantic cat? If so, who strokes its back?' It can only be God,' he concluded" (Carlson p 18).

It was this imaginative nature that led to Tesla's invention of the polyphase AC motor and also of the transmission of radio waves, but at the same time it led him to misinterpret some of his discoveries.

Tesla spent the second half of 1899 in Colorado Springs, Colorado testing his magnifying transmitter which created stationary waves that he believed could broadcast power and messages through the earth. "Working at night, Tesla was amazed to detect weak oscillations consisting of regular beeps: first one, then two, and finally three beeps. 'My first observations [of those beeps] positively terrified me,' Tesla recalled later, 'as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural ... I felt as though I were present at the birth of a new knowledge or the revelation of a great truth.' over the next year or so (1899-1900) he continued to think about these unusual observations until 'the thought flashed upon my mind that the disturbances I had observed might be due to an intelligent control.' At the end of 1900 he concluded that the beeps must indeed be from another planet" (Carlson 275).

Scholars had long searched for a probable cause of the signals and the best explanation comes from Tesla scholars Dr. James F. Corum and Kenneth L. Corum. They found that in the summer of 1899, when Tesla was experimenting in Colorado Springs, "one of Jupiter's moons, Io, emits a 10 KHz signal as it passes through a torus of charged plasma particles that surrounds the planet. First detected in 1955, radio signals from Io often come as a series of pulses. Finally, to explain why Tesla associated these signals with Mars, the Corums ... found that on several nights in July 1899 Jupiter would have emitted a signal for part of the evening but would have stopped just as Mars was setting in the western sky. If Tesla had looked out the doors of the experimental station as he heard the beeps stop, he would have seen Mars disappear behind the mountains, making it easy for him to connect the red planet with the cessation of the signals" (Carlson pp 277-278). It is likely that Tesla did indeed detect extraterrestrial radio signals.

The present letter to the great German-American film producer and co-founder of Universal Pictures Carl Laemmle recounts the episode in Colorado and Tesla also discusses the complications of extra-terrestrial communication. In part:

"Undoubtedly there are myriads of planets in the universe which were, are, or will be abodes of life in its highest forms. The same formative principles must be operative in the building up of the bodies of the inhabitants and their perceptions of the external world must be closely similar to ours. It is highly probable that many are as far, or even more, advanced than ourselves. Codes for communication and mutual understanding can be readily formulated on the bases of commonly perceived universal truths. In 1899 I detected feeble impulses emanating from Mars which seemed to convey the idea of numbers. This discovery I announced through the Red Cross in 1900. Broadly considered, communication between two planets involves as an essential and indispensable condition the coincidence in time of the same phases of development on them. It is this rigid requirement which makes the practical solution of the problem so formidably difficult, not to mention the quick and unceasing motions of the planets. The task would be immensely simplified if the transmission could be affected with infinite velocity for then the same phases of development on the two planets would always coincide in time whatever be the distance. By my inventions if has become possible to transmit considerable amounts of energy at distances of thousands of light years and if received, it can be easily detected in many ways.”

It simply does not get better than this for Nikola Tesla, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own something as historic as this.

Provenance: Bonham's: History of Science and Technology, Including Space History 10/22/22 Lot 1039.

Authentication: Gotta Have Rock and Roll Certificate of Authenticity.
Nikola Tesla “Extraterrestrial Life on Mars” Handwritten & Signed 1937 Letter
This lot has a Reserve Price that has not been met.
Current Bidding (Reserve Not Met)
Minimum Bid: $40,000
Final Bid:
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
Number of Bids:4
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