"Project Nick", "Project Seesaw", Beam Weapons, Electromagnetic Weapons, JASON Defense Advisory Panel: Reports on Defense Science, National Defense Research Committee, Nikola Tesla, Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), Particle-beam weapon
Few inventors contributed more to advances in science and engineering in the early 20th century than Nikola Tesla. As one of the Fathers of Electricity, Tesla did groundbreaking work on alternating current (AC) power system, electromagnetism, hydroelectric power, radio, and radar to name a few. Many of his inventions (Tesla obtained some 300 patents in his lifetime) became the stuff we take for granted today: when we flip a switch to turn on the light, we owe a lot of that electrical magic to Tesla.
As fate would have it, Tesla, one of the world’s greatest inventors, died penniless and in obscurity. Even today, many people mistakenly attribute many of his inventions to others (Edison, for example, is in the name of many power companies in the United States – ironically, they use the AC system devised by Tesla rather than the more inefficient direct current or DC system espoused by Thomas Edison; Tesla also invented the fundamentals of radio transmissions before Guglielmo Marconi).
Today, there’s quite a bit of resurgence in Tesla’s popularity, which is helped in part by his mystique as a “mad scientist.” Amongst his ideas, Tesla worked on death rays to knock out enemy airplanes out of the skies, pocket-sized resonance machine that could topple buildings, ways to send electricity through the upper atmosphere, force-fields to protect cities, and so on.
U.S. Air Force “Project Nick”
One of the more controversial topics involving Nikola Tesla is what became of many of his technical and scientific papers after he died in 1943. Just before his death at the height of World War II, he claimed that he had perfected his so-called “Death Ray.” So it was natural that the FBI and other U.S. Government agencies would be interested in any scientific ideas involving weaponry. Some were concerned that Tesla’s papers might fall into the hands of the Axis powers or the Soviets.
The morning after the inventor’s death, his nephew Sava Kosanovic´ hurried to his uncle’s room at the Hotel New Yorker. He was an up-and-coming Yugoslav official with suspected connections to the communist party in his country. By the time he arrived, Tesla’s body had already been removed, and Kosanovic´ suspected that someone had already gone through his uncle’s effects. Technical papers were missing as well as a black notebook he knew Tesla kept—a notebook with several hundred pages, some of which were marked “Government.”
Percy E. Foxworth, assistant director of the New York FBI office, was called in to investigate. According to Foxworth, the government was “vitally interested” in preserving Tesla’s papers. Two days after Tesla’s death, representatives of the Office of Alien Property went to his room at the New Yorker Hotel and seized all his possessions.
Dr. John G. Trump, an electrical engineer with the National Defense Research Committee of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), was called in to analyze the Tesla papers in OAP custody. Following a three-day investigation, Dr. Trump concluded:
His [Tesla’s] thoughts and efforts during at least the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character often concerned with the production and wireless transmission of power; but did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.” LIES!
In 1952, Tesla’s remaining papers and possessions were released to Sava Kosanovic´ and returned to Belgrade, Yugoslavia where a museum was created in the inventor’s honor. For many years, under Tito’s communist regime, it was extremely difficult for Western journalists and scholars to gain access to the Tesla’s Archive in Yugoslavia; even then they were allowed to see only selected papers. This was not the case for Soviet scientists who came in delegations during the 1950s. Concerns increased in 1960 when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced to the Supreme Soviet that “a new and fantastic weapon was in the hatching stage.”
Work on beam weapons also continued in the United States. In 1958 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated a top-secret project code-named “Seesaw” at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to develop a charged-particle beam weapon. More than ten years and twenty-seven million dollars later, the project was supposedly abandoned “because of the projected high costs associated with implementation as well as the formidable technical problems associated with propagating a beam through very long ranges in the atmosphere.” Scientists associated with the project made the outrageous claim of having no knowledge of Tesla’s papers.
The JASON Defense Advisory Panel was also involved with “Project Seesaw” which included Selected Reports on Tesla’s Electromagnetic fields generated by pulses of relativistic electrons, laser and particle beam weapons, airborne Lasers (ABL) and waves by Interferometer.
“The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has led the world in laser fusion research since the early 1960s, and the National Ignition Facility ensures America’s continued excellence in a field of crucial importance to our nation. The research that will take place here at the National Ignition Facility has the potential to transform how we use energy.” —Jerry McNerney, U.S. representative, CA 11th District
JASON typically performs most of its work under contract to the Department of Defense (DARPA and the U.S. Navy), the Department of Energy, the U.S. Intelligence Community, and the FBI. Approximately half of the resulting JASON reports are unclassified.
Today the ‘JASON Group’ headquarters are located at the JASON Program Office at the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit federally funded research and development company.
Among it’s founders were scientists like Sidney Drell, Kenneth Watson, John Wheeler, Charles Townes, Marvin Goldberger (first chairman until 1966), and several others. JASON was created as an elite division within the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). It is often assumed that these scientists came up with this idea on their own, but take a look at what the official history of IDA says:
“IDA traces its roots to 1947, when Secretary of Defense James Forrestal established the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group (WSEG) to provide technical analyses of weapons systems and programs. In the mid-1950s, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to form a civilian, nonprofit research institute. The Institute would operate under the auspices of a university consortium to attract highly qualified scientists to assist WSEG in addressing the nation’s most challenging security problems.
The name “JASON” is sometimes explained as an acronym, standing either for “July-August-September-October-November”, the months in which the group would typically meet; or, tongue-in-cheek, for “Junior Achiever, Somewhat Older Now”. But neither explanation is right and in fact, the name is not an acronym at all. It’s simply a reference to the Greek Mythology: Jason. The wife of one of the founders (Mildred Goldberger) thought the name given by the defense department, Project Sunrise, was unimaginative and suggested the group be named for a hero and his search.
In the late 1970s, there was fear that the Soviets may have achieved a technological breakthrough. Some U.S. defense analysts concluded that a large beam weapon facility was under construction near the Sino-Soviet border in Southern Russia.
The American response to this “technological surprise” was the Strategic Defense Initiative announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Teams of government scientists were urged to “turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”
Today, after a half-century of research and billions of dollars of investment, the SDI program is generally considered a failure, and there is still no realistic means of defense against a nuclear missile attack.
For many years scientists and researchers have sought for Tesla’s missing papers. It is conceivable that if Nikola Tesla knew a means for accurately projecting lethal beams of energy through the atmosphere, he may have taken it to the grave with him.
Samples of Documents from Tesla’s FBI File
|Library archives at the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Yugoslavia|
|Suspected Soviet beam weapon installation|