Interview: Jack Murphy Discusses Nikola Tesla's Death Ray and Mysterious Death

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 - 3:04PM
Weird Science
Military Tech
Tuesday, 20 February 2018 - 3:04PM
Interview: Jack Murphy Discusses Nikola Tesla's Death Ray and Mysterious Death
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Image Credit: Dickenson V. Alley via Wikimedia Commons: CC BY 4.0
On January 8, 1943, inventor Nikola Tesla was found dead in room 3327 in Manhattan's New Yorker Hotel where he spent the last years of his life. It was soon discovered that his room's safe had been broken into by his nephew Sava Kosanović and was missing a number of documents, plans, and journals. 

Within days, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the remainder of Tesla's papers which had been kept in a number of trunks at a storage facility. Investigators turned them over to the Office of Alien Property Custodian, which was tasked to maintain physical custody of foreign enemies of the United States. Tesla, however, was an American citizen – and no enemy of the United States. Kosanović, on the other hand, was regarded with much deeper suspicion. In an FBI memo dated January 11, 1943, Kosanović was described as "intensely disliked" by Tesla and likely to make Tesla's "important documents and plans... available to the enemy."

In 1953, the Alien Property Custodian had, at the urging of Sava Kosanović, sent the cache of Tesla's documents to Serbia's Tesla Museum. They remain under lock and key to this day.

Among these documents were plans for what Tesla himself called a "death beam" or "death ray:" a weapon, the New York Times reported in 1934, that would be "powerful enough to destroy planes at 250 miles away." The ray was said to consist of invisible "concentrated beams of particles" that could leave "an army of 1,000,000 dead, annihilated in an instant," while leaving no trace of the cause. Suffice it to say, such a weapon would have been – and still is – of great interest to any superpower, particularly one engaged in a world war. 

Most recently, the death ray has reappeared on the Discovery Channel in a 6-episode series entitled Tesla's Death Ray: A Murder Declassified, which focuses on two subjects: the theory that Nikola Tesla was assassinated and the creation of a working death ray based on Tesla's original design. The show features Cameron Prince, a noted Tesla historian and engineer, Aron Koscho, also a Tesla engineer, and military investigator, novelist, and former U.S. Special Forces soldier Jack Murphy, best known for his investigative journalism work with SOFREP. We sat down with Jack Murphy to discuss the show and what went on behind the scenes in Serbia and New York as the Discovery team not only tried to solve the mystery of Tesla's death, but also build one of his most famous inventions. 

via GIPHY



Here are some of the highlights (videos should play consecutively):



Tesla's Death Ray: A Murder Declassified can be streamed on Discovery.com or Amazon Video. For more from Jack Murphy, check out his work on SOFREP and follow him on Twitter. 


Cover photo: Photographer: Dickenson V. Alley via Wikimedia Commons: CC BY 4.0
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