Pittsburg Dispatch April 07-1890

Much-Abused Inventor Keely's New and Mysterious Motive Force
After a Thorough Exhibition in the Presence of Two Scientific Experts.
In the Operations of the Device, Which is Said to be Moved by the Power of Vibration.
In One of the Peculiar Experiments Shown by the Man Who Claims to Have Made Such A Great Discovery.
Keely's new motive force has been tested in the presence of well-known scientific experts. They pronounce the results wonderful, and inexplicable except by the discoverer. Many peculiar experiments were made, several apparently overcoming the force of gravity. No deception could be detected.


NewYork, April 6. Prof. Leidy, of the University of Pennsylvania; the President of Philadelphia's famous Academy of Natural Sciences; Mr. James M. Willcox, author of "Experimental Philosophy;" a well-known woman who has befriended Keely, and a representative of The Dispatch sat in the workshop of Keely, the
Inventor Keely

alleged discoverer of a new force, and saw some queer things Saturday afternoon.

There was no "motor" visible, and Keely said that he had long since quit working at that thoroughly ridiculed engine. He said he would try to show three experiments from which he would ask Dr. Leidy to declare whether he (Keely) was a fraud, or whether he had discovered a new and wonderful force. Mr. Willcox was present, it was stated, as a practical physicist, whose writings and researches had led him to deny the possibility of any such discovery as Keely claimed to have made.

In the Interest of Science.

The lady [Bloomfield-Moore] referred to, who is a very wealthy and benevolent woman, as well known in London as in the United States, said the experiments were made in what it was hoped would be the interest of science, and not to boom any speculative company's shares. Neither she nor Keely cared a fig for the price of any stock. The room was the upper one in a two-story brick workshop, in the northern part of the city of Philadelphia. It was about 14 feet square, and uncarpeted. Dr. Leidy, one of the most distinguished scientific men in the world, and a member of nearly two score of learned societies in this country and Europe, sat about nine feet from the machine by which Keely, a big, tall, awkward-looking man, with dark hair and eyes and beard, and clumsy-looking hands, took his stand. Mr. Willcox and the other two present sat nearer. There was a bright sunlight in the room and every part of it was distinctly visible to everybody.

The Name of the Machine

"What is the name of that machine you are standing by" somebody asked Keely.

"It is," he replied, "a sympathetic transmitter. It is a negative transmitter."

"Is the force you use generated in it?"asked Dr. Leidy.

"It is," was the answer.

The thing referred to was a cupboard about 30 inches high on which stood a cylinder of what looked like bronze, fitted with a concentric series of upright tubes one-half inch in diameter, also of the same metal, surrounded at its base with a series of graduated horizontal rods, solid and evidently of some resonant metal, and capped by a bell-shaped metal cup, in which appeared to be several tuning forks about four inches long, set parallel to each other. The cupboard door was open. Inside it appeared a curious looking harp and a glass bell to which Keely put his ear every now and then to see whether he had hit the proper "sympathetic chord" he said on the resonant rods and on the harp-like instrument.

Remix for the Exhibition.

"Now, he's going to begin," said somebody. Keely took a common twine string out of his pocket, wound it around a little brass spindle in front of the cylinder on top of the cupboard, jerked the loose end as a boy would spin a top, and set the spindle whirling very rapidly. He then attached a metallic wire, which he said was platinum and silver, and which was about as big as a small knitting needle, to a small aperture in the cylinder.

The wire fitted as if it belonged there. The wire was about three feet long. He attached the other end of the wire to what looked like a five pound weight of copper on a table near by, and on this he put a little metal disk in which he laid a magnetic needle. All this time the spindle he had spun with his twine string was revolving at a prodigious speed. He sat down in a big chair by the cupboard and began striking the strings of the harp and attentatively seeking with the other hand a responsive chord among the resonant rods on top of the cupboard.

The Important Moment.

When what he said was "B flat" was touched on both rod and harp string the magnetic needle gave a shiver distinctly visible to everybody and began slowly to revolve from right to left. In a half minute it was going so fast as to be almost invisible. Keely did not go nearer to it, but sat by the cupboard with his hands in his pockets. The spindle revolved all the while, and the echoes of the note came from the cupboard.

"The force, which is a vibratory one," said Keely, "has been transmitted along the wire to the metal disk on which the magnetic needle stands. The disk is solid, as you see, but the force is powerful enough, as now generated, to keep that needle revolving at the rate of 120 revolutions a second for 14 weeks."

"Has your alleged force anything to do with magnetism?" asked someone.

"As I understand it," Mr. Willcox remarked, "you claim it to be an interruption of the magnetic currents of the earth?"

Said Keely: "There is an unceasing, all pervading dual flow of this new force, negative and positive."

A Thorough Examination.

Mr. Willcox and Dr. Leidy then examined the platinum wire, the metal disk on which the magnetic needles rested, the cupboard, the base of the cupboard and the table on which the disk and needle rested. When asked if there was, in his opinion, any possibility that the force which made the needle revolve was electricity, compressed air or steam, Dr. Leidy looked thoughtful and said he could not see the possibility of any of those forces producing the result attained.

"What you have seen was shown you in order to illustrate the ease with which this force can be made to do work," said Keely.

"Of course the work just done was trifling. But I hope now to show you what will look very differently."

He pointed out then two glass jars, such as chemists use, on a table near by. The jars were of the same size, about 40 inches high, and 10 inches in diameter. They were filled with what is said to be, and certainly smelled and tasted like, Schuylkill water. In the bottom of one jar lay a copper globe, cut in half to show, Keely "said, just what it was; and filled, in each hollow half, with iron nails.

Another Peculiar Experiment. [see Figure 17.18 - Keelys Levitation Demonstration]

In the other jar were three brass balls of different sizes. The copper globe and nails were weighed by Dr. Leidy and found to kick the beam at five pounds and six ounces. The brass balls or eggs they were egg-shaped, weighed less. Everybody sat down alter the weighing and Keely fastened another "platinum silver wire" to the cylinder on the cupboard and, detaching the one already in use from the magnetic needle disk was about to fasten the loose ends of each to the metal disks that covered the tops of the jars when some one asked if the wires were "hollow." The suggestion was followed by a smile from Keely, who at once cut off the end of one of them and handed it around.

"Prof. Rowland, of Baltimore, [had] declared that this was a fraud, because the wires were hollow," said the woman, "but Keely asked him how he could explain what Keely did even on the hypothesis that the wires were hollow and he didn't answer. Then Keely got mad and would not let him cut the wire, as he wanted to do." [add link here to the above story]

Dr. Leidy followed everything closely. Keely fastened the loose ends of both wires into the metal caps of the cylinders.

The String an Important Feature.

Again he spun the spindle on his cupboard with the twine string he had used before. Again with his gnarled fingers, the joints of the first two fingers of his right hand being as big as walnuts, be pounded the "harp" in the cupboard and the resonant bars on top of it.

"What are you doing now?" asked Dr. Leidy.

"I am trying" said Keely, "to get the mass chord of that copper sphere full of nails. Every aggregation of molecules or of matter, I claim, or, in other words, every mass of matter, has a sympathetic chord, through the medium of which I can operate my vibratory force."

The chord was not found for some minutes. Again the spindle was spun by the help of the twine, and its whizz was distinct in the silence of the room. The search for the mass chord continued on the "harp" and the resonant rods. A deep, clear note resounded from both at the same time, and at the instant it broke on the ear the heavy copper globe quivered as it lay at the bottom of the water, rolled over, reluctantly as it were abandoning the ties by which gravity held it to the bottom of the jar, floated at first slowly, and then more swiftly and steadily to the top of the jar, against which it impinged with an audible concussion. [see Figure 17.18 - Keelys Levitation Demonstration]

Gravity Easily Overcome.

"Why, there is the force of gravity as plainly overcome and indeed annihilated as it is possible for a human being to imagine," exclaimed the woman.

Dr. Leidy was asked this question: "Doctor, is it true that this unknown force, or what is here manifested as such, has actually before your eyes overcome the force of gravity with which we are all familiar?" and the answer, slowly, deliberately, was: "I see no escape from that conclusion."

Attention was then attracted to the little magnetic needle which had been put in position on a portion of the cylinders on top of the cap board. It was whirling so fast that only a fleeting shadow of its coming and going was perceptible.

"Measuring the force," said Keely, "by vibrations, 18,000 of them to a second are necessary to raise that weight through the water. The current that raises the weight is of course a positive current. You see the copper globe remains suspended on the surface of the water. I turn on the negative current."

Here he struck a low minor chord, and the globe trembles and begins to descend. It was as he said. The minor chord brought the copper globe downward to the center of the jar, where a quick return to the major (chord) held the globe hanging motionless, half way between the bottom and the top. In a moment more it began to ascend, and the top of the jar was again reached. There it remained, "the quality of the vibrations," Mr. Keely said, "being unchanged." Turning to the other jar, Mr. Keely again tried to strike the chord desired to carry his positive current of force to raise the three brass balls at the bottom of the water.

Repeating the Experiment.

"There are three distinct masses to be operated on," said he, "and the mass-chords for them all are different each from the other." Finally a note was struck which sent a sort of shiver through one of the balls; the smallest. It slowly mounted through the water. Remaining a while at the top, the negative current, Mr. Keely said, was turned on and it descended. A different chord was struck, and the same ball and one of the others together climbed up to the surface again. There they remained while an effort was made to raise the biggest of the three. After some difficulty that one, too, was forced to the top. A change of action brought them all three as far down as the middle of the jar. There they were stopped.

"As I understand it," said Mr. Willcox, "Mr. Keely claims his force to produce an interference with the magnetic current of the earth. The earth is enveloped in magnetic currents as an orange is with Its rind." '

Dr. Leidy was asked what he thought of this proposition. He assented to it.

"This last," said he, "is a wonderful experiment. It impresses me favorably."

The last experiment performed was what was announced as being propagation and application of "the force" through the atmosphere, from one room to another, without other medium of conveyance than a silk cord. The door into the little back shop, whose existence until then was unsuspected, was now opened and a silk cord passed from the transmitter toward a large bronze globe, mounted on an axis horizontally.

Convincing the Experts.

The other end of the cord was not fastened to the globe, but to a slender bar of steel supported on uprights near it. A piece of plate glass an inch thick was put between the end of the resonant steel bar and the globe. A similar piece of glass was put between the wall and the other end of the bar. Glass was put under the uprights which supported the bar. Glass plates were also put under the uprights which supported the axis of the globe.

Keely then took a harmonicon in his hands and allowing the silk chord from the "transmitter" to pass over the harmonicon in contact with it, began to sound notes on it. When "the sympathetic chord," as he said, was struck, "the vibratory force," he declared, was conveyed along the silk chord. The bronze globe, which was about 14 inches in diameter, began to revolve about its axis. The faster, Keely played on, the faster the globe whirled.

"Some day," said Dr. Leidy, "I suppose a young lady will be able to play on the piano and set her father's mill to grinding. I see no possible source of deception. This demonstration is wonderful. There is no explanation of the effect thus produced except by a vibratory force, such as Keely assigns as the cause." Dr. Leidy spoke with an air of conviction.

"Would you care to be quoted to that effect?" he was asked.

"I have no objection." said he. He walked over and examined the apparatus of the last demonstration. The cord was inspected and chopped into pieces, some of which were given to each of those present. The harmonicon was looked into. It had a weather-beaten look. The top was removed by the aid of a monkey wrench from one of the tall cylinders in the workshop proper and the nails with which the copper globe had been floated up and down in the water were taken out and handed around.

Getting Ready to Fly.

"I expect to solve the problem of aerial navigation," said Keely, "for I can already move a weight up and down in atmosphere, or even in vacuo." Nobody offered any remark on this remarkable declaration.

"What is the force with which I expect to do this? The same sympathetic attractive force which holds the planets together. The force is dual. Sympathetic negative dissociates molecules just as the sympathetic positive associates them. I believe electricity to be a substance, not a force."

This man, who has broken the joints of his fingers, broken three of his ribs, paralyzed his left side and temporarily lost the sight of one eye in his search for the "principles of the new force," said the experiments were over. As Dr. Leidy turned away he said with authority and with the full understanding that he was speaking for publication: "You may announce to the world on my authority that John E. W. Keely has discovered a new and wonderful force."

Back to Keely Chronology

See Also

4.2.5 - Rotation of Compass Needle
Aerial Navigation

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