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Our Electronic Universe
October 1952 Radio-Electronics

October 1952 Radio-Electronics

October 1952 Radio-Electronics Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Electronics, published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

Hugo Gernsback had a vivid imagination, creativity, and foresight. Throughout the many decades he penned editorials for his magazines and authored many books - both fiction and technical - Mr. Gernsback made scores of predictions which came to fruition (as well as far fewer which did not). In 1952 he published an editorial in Radio-Electronics magazine entitled "Our Electric Universe," wherein he postulated the immense amount of energy impinging upon the Earth being transformed into useable forms like electricity, heating water for environment conditioning, directly driving machinery, and other innovative scenarios. Is it sort of a follow−up on "The Celestial Audion" he wrote in a 1922 issue of his Radio−News magazine which likened the makeup of the cosmos to a vacuum tube. In this article, capturing cosmic rays and other forms of extraterrestrial (galactic) energy is considered a major source to supplement and/or replace petroleum. At the time, nuclear electricity generation was still in the developmental stages. The USSR commissioned the first nuclear plant in 1954, two years after Gernsback wrote this. The first nuclear energy plant disaster occurred two years later (not the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown).

Mag Tag: Cosmic ray energy generation

Our Electronic Universe - The heavens are the major producer of all electrons...

Our Electric Universe, October 1952 Radio-Electronics - RF CafeBy Hugo Gernsback

Exactly 30 years ago the writer authored an article entitled "The Celestial Audion" (Radio News, July, 1922). This article showed the surprising close parallelism of the vacuum tube with the solar system. Just as the filament or cathode of the vacuum tube constantly emits electrons which bombard the "empty" space and the elements in the tube, so the sun, too, emits electrons on a gigantic scale which bombard the earth, moon, and other planets, through space.

When, due to sunspots or other atomic activity, the flow of solar electrons is increased, we, on earth, know it about 26 hours later, for it takes this particular electronic flow - traveling at the rate of 994 miles a second - that length of time to bridge the 93 million miles separating us from the sun. Magnetic storms on earth, which disrupt wire and radio communication, the flaming up of the aurora borealis - the northern lights - are only a few of the phenomena noted by us when solar electronic activity increases,

Even without a sudden increase of solar electron radiation, we. are under continuous electronic bombardment from the sun. Nor is this solar energy which the earth intercepts trifling. Scientists today are certain that most of the magnetic field of the earth is created chiefly by solar electronic emission.

That the sun is indeed a gigantic radio transmitter was confirmed again in September 1951 and February, 1952. A French scientific expedition on the African River Niger made a number of significant radio observations during solar eclipses. It was noted that with a specially constructed wave guide a considerable amount of radio energy was intercepted on centimeter wavelengths. Nor did the radio energy originate from the center or the edge of the solar disc. It appears that the radiation comes from outside the solar surface. As the scientists put it: "the radioelectronic sun's diameter is 70% larger than the optical sun." It thus appears that the sun's corona is also a radio emitter.

But our sun is not the only celestial radioelectronic transmitter. There are hundreds of millions of other stars in the universe and practically all of them send us similar radio energy. Naturally, due to the enormous intervening distances, the intercepted energy received on earth is trifling. Nevertheless, our new radio telescopes, now springing up all over the globe, collect these celestial radio waves and measure their frequency and energy accurately.

Not all of the myriad suns in the universe are alike. All vary in age, size, and composition. Thus our sun is a moderate-size star, fairly young - about four billion years old, and will probably last 50 billion years more according to cosmologists.

Other stars much larger than the sun have a different life cycle. These, called super-giants, are colossal in size, but when their hydrogen supply becomes exhausted, the star shrinks, or begins to collapse rapidly. Now it starts to radiate a different type of electronic energy - hard, powerful X-rays. Finally the super-giant in its death throes explodes with a force that would make the detonation of a million man-made atomic bombs, set off together, seem like a harmless firecracker. The exploding star has now become a supernova, such as we see flaring up in our skies periodically. Nevertheless, even after such a massive world-explosion. the supernova lives on a while. According to Prof. Fred Hoyle of Cambridge University, about 10% of the original star remains after the explosion. At this point the supernova emits the most powerful rays known to man, namely: cosmic radiation.

Inasmuch as there are many millions of different types of novae throughout the whole universe, continuously radiating cosmic rays, our earth intercepts unending streams of this still little understood electronic super-radiation.

Most cosmologists today are agreed that the universe has neither beginning nor end, startling as the idea is to most of us. Space and universe are one entity you cannot well conceive one without the other. Even a truly empty space cannot be conceived as not having existed at one time.

More surprising still is the theory recently advanced by scientists. It is called continuous creation. This in its simplest terms means that the universe can never run down - it will live on forever. It has been shown mathematically that the fuel on which all suns feed is hydrogen - the most abundant material throughout the universe, which means throughout infinite space. (Let us not forget too, that hydrogen is composed of one negative electron, and one positive proton.) Far more startling is that in order to keep all the billions of stars, big and little, supplied with fuel, it is only necessary to continuously create one single hydrogen atom in a space as large as a medium skyscraper, once a year. But we must consider the immensity of universal space to realize how these lone atoms will nevertheless in the aggregate add up sufficiently to run the universe composed of millions of galaxies and billions of stars.

But cosmologists are silent when it comes to explaining how the hydrogen atoms are created continuously. They are no more concerned with this than to explain what gravitation is or how it is created. They merely say, as does Hoyle: "Where does the created material come from? It does not come from anywhere. It simply appears - it is created."

What practical benefit do we derive from the electronic universe? For one thing we learn many new electronic facts and we greatly enrich our present knowledge. We learn that electric radiation can be produced directly from the atom - achieved only as a laboratory curiosity today - but a commercial possibility tomorrow.

It will also be possible in the future to tap the sun for its electrical energy. This may be difficult to accomplish on earth for some time, due to our atmosphere which now hinders reception. But on the moon this obstacle vanishes. As it will not be very long now before we reach the moon, solar-electric generation stations are certain to be built for power purposes, to smelt lunar metals, for lighting and heating and many other purposes.

But it is in the cosmic radiation where our greatest hope in the future centers. These unbelievably powerful rays have such vast energy that they not only pass easily through our atmosphere but penetrate far into the earth without difficulty. Cosmic rays have been detected in mines over a mile below the earth's surface. As it takes around three billion volts for these rays to penetrate to the bottom of our atmosphere, an idea can be gained of this gigantic radiation. It seems certain that some day this stupendous energy will be harnessed for man's use. When that happens it may well revolutionize our lives.

This sketchy account of our electronic universe does not even begin to scratch the outer film of the subject. Let us ponder that our infinitesimal knowledge of this fascinating study is less than one hundred years old, and that the local electronic universe - our own galaxy - according to the latest researches, has been functioning uninterruptedly for over five billion years!



Posted December 10, 2021

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About RF Cafe

Kirt Blattenberger - RF Cafe Webmaster

1996 - 2024


Kirt Blattenberger,


RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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