Tesla's Little Gift

by Professor A.D. Conrow

Because of my military service in WWI, and my secret work during WWII, not to mention my close working relationship with Tesla himself, it seemed only natural to me that I would be contacted upon the great man's death in early 1943.

Initially, I was involved in the small flap about the confiscation of Tesla's notebook and some papers concerning government “beam-weapons”. However, by early 1946, I found myself involved in a top secret project codenamed “Nick”. Some have speculated that “Nick” was just a reference to Nikola's name, but I had reason to believe it was because his basic research papers had been “nicked” shortly after his death.

The tedious commute, by train, up to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was always long and unpleasant, but the research was extremely interesting. I don't claim to have been at the very center of the Program & Analysis Group of the project, but rather, as a high-voltage engineering consultant who knew Tesla well.

After all these years, I am still not at liberty to disclose most of the details of Project Nick, but suffice it to say, that what started out as a beam-weapon, or death-ray, soon became a breakthrough in nuclear fusion reactors!

Some have speculated that my good friend, Philo Farnsworth, was swept into the effort himself, but that is speculation, of course. What we DO now know, and what has been demonstrated is called the FUSOR.

Although not generally credited to Tesla himself, the great thinker's initial ideas laid down in the early 1900's cleared the way for the amazing FUSOR, and the “electronic fusion” that it produces. Modern FUSORS are now commonly used as Neutron sources for research, and some physicists believe that the FUSOR may soon be able to provide mankind with unlimited energy, just as Tesla had hoped.

To make a long story very short, Dear Reader, I was contacted in 1956 to produce a series of specialty lamps to commemorate the 10th anniversary of our first Plasma Containment.

I had to give the matter considerable thought, however, because it is not a simple matter to produce a FUSOR that can be safely displayed upon one's desk or table!

What I came up with I called the Tesla Plasma Lamp, and I am certain that Tesla himself would have taken great delight in demonstrating it. The device is completely self-contained and operates from a mere 14.6 volts DC.

Owing to the fact that I have my own facilities for blowing glass, casting Bakelite and producing miniaturized electronic components, I was in the unique position to produce an extremely limited number of said lamps. While it is somewhat amusing to recall the exact circumstances surrounding the lamp's production, I will present only an abbreviated outline here, in this article.


I received a 2-way radio call from a good friend in nearby Fayetteville, who's name is Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith has been working in the radio business since the mid 1920's, and has all of the latest equipment for installing and maintaining his 2-way radios.

Anyway, I received a rather frantic sounding transmission from Mr. Smith, indicating that I had some very important visitors at the local airport. Mr. Smith went on to inform me that he had “never seen such high-ranking brass since the war”, and I knew that Mr. Smith was not easily excited. So, I quickly put on my best hat and overcoat and made double-time down the mountain and directly out onto Drake Field itself, in my electric Model T pickup.

Sitting on the tarmac was a freshly painted Convair C-131 Samaritan with Air Force markings. Soon, I was astonished to see Major General L. C. Craigie, himself, and found myself snapping to attention out of respect, and not to mention, force-of-habit!

It was good to see the General, and we walked, along with four of his crew, over to the hanger to get a cup of coffee. My reader may already be familiar with General Craigie and his promise to President Eisenhower “not to discuss what he saw at Roswell, New Mexico in the summer of 1947”, and that is the subject of another article. However, General Craigie got right down to business, as was his habit. “Professor Conrow,” said the General in a quiet voice, “what is all this about you making FUSOR lamps out here in your mountain laboratory?” I probably stammered a little when I replied, “Well, I was contracted to make some commemorative lamps for the old Project Nick team, but that is all I have been doing.”

Well, Conrow, here is what worries me: With as much as you know about Project Nick, and our 'device', I just can't have you out here making copies of the thing to send all around the country. Do I have to remind you that you operate under several Federal Secrecy Orders, and that I don't want to have to worry about any violations? Do I?”

I am certain that my face was already turning darker shades of red (or maybe white) but I soon recovered and defended my innocent intentions. “General, you know that I take my oath very seriously, as do you, and I would never do anything whatsoever to reveal any secrets that would compromise our national security.” I said with a little quiver in my voice.

Good, Conrow. That is good, but, what about this lamp? Once I heard about it from my staff, I could hardly wait to get one myself.” said the General already eying his plane, and the fuel truck that had finished refueling it. “General,” I said more confidently, “I will send you the very first one that I produce to be certain that it has your blessing before sending the rest up to D.C.”

Professor Conrow, you are a man of your word and I will not waste another minute of your time.” With that, and a firm handshake, the General spun on his heel, pitched his spent paper coffee cup into a nearby waste drum and was off.

Believe you me, I was extremely careful with what I included in my Tesla Plasma Lamps! So, Dear Reader, if you encounter a four or five inch in diameter glass sphere with little lightning bolts inside, you can rest assured that it is NOT A FUSOR!