Communicating with Mars?
Progress of Wireless Telephony.
"Talking with Mars?" Senator Marconi said to me to-day (writes a correspondent of the "Manchester Guardian"). "No, I a m not yet talking with Mars. Mr. Wells and M. Flammarion are more responsible than I am for the popular belief existing about mars and for the consequent jumping to conclusions that has followed my last statement on certain effects notice of late which appeal to the imagination as signals from intelligent being from another world.
"But again, I would not deny the possibility of sending signals by wireless waves through inter-planetary space. Space is not impenetrable to all ether waves, as somebody has affirmed. Electric waves have a strong affinity with the light and heat waves that reach and vivify this planet through the 'void,' and whether they get through or not seems to me to depend mainly upon their length. It is probably that so-called wireless waves of a moderate length, let us say of three or four miles, are reflected from the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere. But it is probable that much longer waves are not reflected back, escaping evidently into inter-planetary space and becoming attenuated so far as the perceptible phenomenon is concerned in the infinity of space.
"Ether is permeable to them, and so any certain kinds of matter, although in a much lesser degree. Wireless messages can be received at great distances through a wall. This closed room, for instance, is now full of messages from all over the world that a small receiving apparatus could easily detect. But masses, like great mountains, are probably a real obstacle, and waves must pass over them.
A Question of Wave-Lengths.
"I do not think we can penetrate the mass of the earth. Messages received at the Antipodes appear to have travelled round the globe and not through it.
"While the shorter waves are definitely confined between the earth's surface and the upper layers of the atmosphere, the long ones may expand upwards without a conceivable limit. Their intensity may be varied at will within the power now reached in the generation of the waves. That is why I believe in the transmission of waves through the celestial space.
"As to the connection of the wireless disturbances I have spoken of with the solar storms revealed by the sun-spots, I may say that to my knowledge no case of striking coincidence between the two phenomena has been reported so far. Of course we must admit that the studies on this subject are still in their infancy."
The point of the controversy aroused by Senator Marconi's last statements on the possibility of inter-planetary communications being exhausted, I tried to investigate the wonders of the wireless role in the petty affairs of mankind. I asked Senator Marconi questions about the latest developments of wireless telephony.
The Guardian, February 3, 1920
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