Other Ideas Not Ready for Prime Time!

...ideas that didn't quite work out

Charles Tripler Child proposed a very reasonable idea in his book "The How and Why of Electricity" in 1902. He did not believe that Hertzian waves traveling through the air could account for radio propagation. Instead, he proposed that "The currents rushing into and out of the earth at E tend to charge and discharge the earth itself, or that portion of it immediately concerned." Of course, nobody knew about "skip" propagation of radio waves at that time.

On the other hand, some other ideas proposed later weren't quite so tame. For instance, George O. Squier proposed using "Tree Antennas" in a Scientific American article in July of 1919. He felt that "a tree is as good as any man-made aerial." He goes on to state that "A dead tree will not do, and a tree not in leaf is not so sensitive as one in full foliage." Of course, if Charles Tripler Child had been right about radio waves traveling through the earth instead of the atmosphere, perhaps a tree with a full root system would have been more important!
The antenna was attached with a nail into the tree, best two-thirds of the way from ground to the top. Since Lee DeForest had already invented the tube amplifier, Squier says he was able to receive signals from all the principle European stations through a tree using the "remarkably sensitive amplifiers now available."
Sensitive amplifiers indeed!

And then there is the advertisement for the "Sub-Antenna" that appeared in the catalog for the Radio Specialty Company of New York in 1928. This wonderful completely underground antenna was supposed to completely replace the "up in the air" type of aerial. It was purportedly a "scientifically designed radio wave builder-- sorts the radio impulses from the static and other unwanted noises and then delivers the purified radio waves to the set." It is also noted that "The longer it remains in the ground the better it works." This antenna cost $7.35. Perhaps this idea should have been buried also!

Still want more ideas that didn't quite stand the test of time....
You've heard of X-rays, right? What about Rene Blondlot's "N-Rays"?

Back to the Spark Key Project