Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Q&A with Marc J. Seifer




Marc J. Seifer is the author of the new book Tesla: Wizard at War: The Genius, the Particle Beam Weapon, and the Pursuit of Power. His other books include Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla. He is also a handwriting expert.


Q: What initially fascinated you about Nikola Tesla, and over how long a period did you work on this book?


A: I was amazed that at the time, which was 1976, that I had never heard of the person who invented the induction motor, our hydroelectric power system, wireless communication and what was to become cell phone technology, that is, the ability to create an unlimited number of wireless channels, fluorescent and neon lights, remote control, robotics and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (such as the Osprey helicopter/airplane).


At first I didn’t think one person could do all this, so I made Tesla the subject of my doctoral dissertation to go into the heart and soul of each of these inventions. To my astonishment, Tesla did indeed lay at the basis of each of these creations.


The dissertation took about six years and then I put in another eight years of daily work to create Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius.


Ultimately, it took 20 years from 1976 until the book came out in 1996 and I was gratified to see that Wizard was called “serious scholarship” by Scientific American and is “Highly Recommended” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


My new book, Tesla: Wizard at War: The Genius, the Particle Beam Weapon, and the Pursuit of Power, began about eight years ago. During that time, I helped develop, write and star in the five-part limited TV series The Tesla Files for the History Channel, now on Amazon.


I was already in the midst of writing the book but because of the show, which went out to 40 countries, people from all over the world wrote and sent me amazing new never-before-revealed information on Tesla, including recently declassified documents from the Soviet Union and letters between Tesla and the British War Office as WWII was beginning.


Where Wizard covers Tesla’s entire life, year by year, Wizard at War focuses mainly on Tesla’s link to three wars: the Spanish-American War of 1898; WWI, where Tesla worked for Telefunken in wireless; and WWII, where Tesla negotiated with the sale of his particle beam weapon to the Soviet Union and Great Britain and also gave freely the details to the US War Department.


Q: What would you say are some of the most common perceptions and misconceptions about Tesla?


A: The most common perception is that Tesla was a genius. Although he virtually disappeared from the history books and from the American psyche from about the 1950s through the early 1990s, a few years later, Tesla rose to become the Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived, beating out 50 other great scientists such as Newton, Einstein, Edison, Turing, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Marconi, DaVinci, and Elon Musk.


One of the greatest misconceptions about Tesla is that after his heyday in the 1890s, his work became less and less important. He is often depicted in old age as a has-been.


In fact, quite the opposite is true. In Tesla: Wizard at War, I show that a half-dozen Nobel Prize winners sent Tesla happy birthday congratulations when he turned 75 and he made the cover of Time magazine in 1931.


And that as WWII was brewing, Tesla was negotiating with the very highest echelons of power in the Soviet Union, Canada, Yugoslavia, Great Britain, and the United States in his attempts to sell them his particle beam weapon.


Tesla felt that if all the nations in the world had such a weapon, war would become obsolete because it would make no sense to go to war because the defense of a country’s borders would be impregnable.


My new book shows that the leaders of these countries, including Joseph Stalin, General McNaughton--who was the head of secret weapons development for Canada and thus for the British Empire--and FDR himself, were very interested in meeting with Tesla to learn more about his so-called death ray. This is a very new look at Tesla.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Tesla and inventor Guglielmo Marconi?


A: Tesla offered his wireless equipment to Marconi in the late 1890s and Marconi passed and then simply pirated it, so Tesla was very unhappy about Marconi! The big difference between them with regards to who invented the radio has to do with the difference in their working equipment at the turn of the century.


Although Marconi was using a Tesla coil, he was using a spark gap transmitter to transmit Morse Code and could only operate his system on one line. Tesla was using his oscillators to create continuous waves so he could transmit voice, pictures, and even power by wireless on multiple frequencies.


Marconi mostly sent the electromagnetic energy through the air, whereas Tesla sent it not only through the airwaves, but also by conduction through the Earth. Tesla’s system was more efficient and is the basis of modern-day radio, cell phone technology, wireless communication, and when TV goes through the airwaves. 


Q: What about Tesla and Thomas Edison?


A: During the War of the Currents, Tesla along with Westinghouse were using alternating current (AC) whereas Edison was using direct current or DC. The difference was that with the Edison system, electricity could only be sent about a mile power dropping off over distance and then only for lighting.


The Tesla AC system put in at Niagara Falls by Westinghouse, on the other hand, enabled electricity to be transported hundreds of miles with no loss of power and AC was used not only to light homes but also to run electrical equipment such as refrigerators, toasters, the vacuum cleaner, and also power factories as well. Tesla invented the modern-day electrical grid.


Before Tesla, all the factories were set up along rivers because they had to be close to the power source. After Tesla, factories could be placed anywhere. The Tesla hydroelectric power system ran on waterfalls, and was thus renewable and was clean energy. The Edison system was coal-operated for lighting villages and thus was adding greatly to air pollution.


So, Tesla and Edison were business enemies during the War of the Currents, but afterwards, they became friends and when Tesla’s laboratory burned to the ground, Edison provided Tesla a work space until he could build another factor. I get into their friendship in Wizard at War.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I am also the author of the Rudy Styne Quadrilogy. Each book is different, but the middle two are a two-book saga covering WWI and WWII as a back story. All four are modern-day murder mysteries starring ace reporter Rudy Styne.


Rasputin’s Nephew is a psi-spy thriller involving the creation of cybernetic soldiers with paranormal abilities created by an enemy nation in Eurasia. Although total fiction, this book is based to some extent on my 15 years as a teacher of parapsychology at Providence College Night School and my work with such superpsychics as Ingo Swann and Uri Geller.


My ace reporter, Rudy Styne, begins to investigate the unusual deaths of American parapsychologists and tries to report on this, only to get resistance from his boss at Modern Times, my fictitious magazine that he works for. As he gets deeper into the mystery, the cybernetic soldiers are now sent to kill him.


Doppelganger and Crystal Night are a two-book saga. The modern story involves ace reporter Rudy Styne on the trail of a major computer hacker. While en route to interview the Steve Jobs of Germany, Rudy runs into his doppelganger, and that will tie him to the back story which begins in 1906 with the birth of Abe Maxwell.


Abe’s father is Elias Maxwell, who, along with his brother Simon, starts a motorworks which evolves into an airline. Since the back story takes place in the beginning of the 20th century, Simon will end up flying for the Kaiser during World War I and this will tie him to the Red Baron and Herman Goering, who were both ace pilots during the Great War.


As we move to the second novel, with Rudy still on the trail of the computer hacker, he now wants to learn more about his link to his look-alike, who obviously is German. After finding out that he is not biologically related to his mother, this becomes a search for his birth parents, who are more deeply tied to the back story. These two books are a great two-book saga in the tradition of Exodus, The Winds of War, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin


I happen to also be a handwriting expert, having testified over 100 times in state, federal, civil and criminal court. Through the years, I have had a number of amazing cases, so I fictionalized a few of them and created a murder mystery again starring ace reporter Rudy Styne, trying to figure out who is murdering handwriting experts and why in Fate Line


All four novels are completely original. They are not formula novels. Each deals with real events as well, so the reader not only has the pleasure of reading a murder mystery, but also interesting information about parapsychology, World War I, World War II, computer hacking and forgery detection are also gleaned. Please check them out on Amazon.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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