The Source of Human Energy – The Three Ways of Drawing Energy from the Sun

By Nikola Tesla, from the manuscripts titled “Problem of Increasing Human Energy” written in the year 1900.

An excerpt taken from the article “The Source of Human Energy – The Three Ways of Drawing Energy from the Sun”, written by Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors ever known to the World, and one of the greatest contributors to the technology of modern civilization.

This article highlight’s the importance of the Sun as related to human energy, and how everything from wind power to wood burning stoves is nothing more than a solar power system of a different form.  Nearly everything we do, when related to energy, is in some way or another devised from the Sun.  Clearly one can do no wrong by harnessing and utilizing solar power.  It is the origin of all energy systems as we know it.  Best of all, solar energy is clean and free.

“First let us ask: Whence comes all the motive power?  What is the spring that drives all?  We see the oceans rise and fall, the rivers flow, the wind, rain, hail, and snow beat on our windows, the trains and steamers come and go; we hear the rattling noise of carriages, the voices from the street; we feel, smell, and taste; and we think of all this.  And all this movement, from the surging of the mighty ocean to that subtle movement concerned in our thought, has but one common cause.  All this energy emanates from one single center, one single source – the Sun.  The Sun maintains all human life and supplies all human energy.  Another answer we have now found to the above great question: To increase the force accelerating human movement means to turn to the uses of man more of the Sun’s energy.  We honor and revere those great men of bygone times whose names are linked with immortal achievements, who have proved themselves benefactors of humanity – the religious reformer with his wise maxims of life, the philosopher with his deep truths, the mathematicians with his formulae, the physicist with his laws, the discover with his principles and secrets wrested from nature, the artist with his forms of the beautiful, – who can the name of him, – who first turned to use the Sun’s energy to save the effort of a weak fellow creature?  That was man’s first act of scientific philanthropy, and its consequences have been incalculable.

From the very beginning three ways of drawing energy from the Sun were open to man.  The savage, when he warmed his frozen limbs at a fire kindled in some way, availed himself of the energy of the Sun stored in the burning material.  When he carried a bundle of branches to his cave and burned them there, he made use of the Sun’s stored energy transported from one to another locality.  When he set sail to his canoe, he utilized the energy of the Sun supplied to the atmosphere or ambient medium.  There can be doubt that the first is the oldest way.  A fire, found accidentally, taught the savage to appreciate its beneficial heat.  He then very likely conceived the idea of carrying the glowing embers to his abode.  Finally he learned to use the force of a swift current of water or air.  It is characteristic of modern development that progress has been effected in the same order.  The utilization of the energy stored in wood or coal, or, generally speaking, fuel, led to the steam engine.  Next a great stride in advance was made in energy transportation by the use of electricity, which permitted the transfer of energy from one locality to another without transporting the material.  But as to the utilization of the energy of the ambient medium, no radical step forward has as yet been made known.

Leave a Comment