"Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe."
That quote comes from a book called "Experiments with Alternate Currents of High Potential and High Frequency by Nikola Tesla" where Tesla describes his discovery of one wire power transmission as demonstrated to drive a motor with just one wire.
"It is quite possible, however, that such "no-wire" motors, as they might be called, could be operated by conduction through the rarefied air at considerable distances. Alternate currents, especially of high frequencies, pass with astonishing freedom through even slightly rarefied gases. The upper strata of the air are rarefied.
To reach a number of miles out into space requires the overcoming of difficulties of a merely mechanical nature. There is no doubt that with the enormous potentials obtainable by the use of high frequencies and oil insulation luminous discharges might be passed through many miles of rarefied air, and that, by thus directing the energy of many hundreds or thousands of horse-power, motors or lamps might be operated at considerable distances from stationary sources.
But such schemes are mentioned merely as possibilities. We shall have no need to transmit power in this way. We shall have no need to transmit power at all.
Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe.
This idea is not novel. Men have been led to it long ago by instinct or reason. It has been expressed in many ways, and in many places, in the history of old and new.
We find it in the delightful myth of Antaeus, who derives power from the earth; we find it among the subtile speculations of one of your splendid mathematicians, and in many hints and statements of thinkers of the present time.
Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic?
If static our hopes are in vain;
if kinetic—and this we know it is, for certain—then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature.
Of all, living or dead, Crookes came nearest to doing it. His radiometer will turn in the light of day and in the darkness of the night; it will turn everywhere where there is heat, and heat is everywhere. But, unfortunately, this beautiful little machine, while it goes down to posterity as the most interesting, must likewise be put on record as the most inefficient machine ever invented!
The preceding experiment is only one of many equally interesting experiments which may be performed by the use of only one wire with alternate currents of high potential and frequency.
We may connect an insulated line to a source of such currents, we may pass an inappreciable current over the line, and on any point of the same we are able to obtain a heavy current, capable of fusing a thick copper wire. Or we may, by the help of some artifice, decompose a solution in any electrolytic cell by connecting only one pole of the cell to the line or source of energy. Or we may, by attaching to the line, or only bringing into its vicinity, light up an incandescent lamp, an exhausted tube, or a phosphorescent bulb.
However impracticable this plan of working may appear in many cases, it certainly seems practicable, and even recommendable, in the production of light. A perfected lamp would require but little energy, and if wires were used at all we ought to be able to supply that energy without a return wire."