interview with helen hall
conversation with brian carroll of
sept. 26-27th, 2007, minneapolis, minnesota
recorded & transcribed, published 11/07

/ part 1 / part 2 / part 3 /

Tesla 'wheelwork of nature' quote

bc:  why make a film about Nikola Tesla and the aether? [0

hh:  well, first of all, it's about new energy science and it comes from doing years of research for my earlier film, Powerlines. [1]  i kept coming across the work of scientists and inventors around the world who were tapping into a new form of energy and it wasn't really understood what the mechanism was that was making it possible for them to tap into it.

and this new energy seemed to have unique and unusual properties that couldn't be defined and understood in the current system of science. and so they were looking to other ways of understanding and a lot of this experimentation has been inspired by Nikola Tesla's work at the turn of the last century.

so, a lot of these scientists were influenced by Tesla. and i did not know that much about Tesla in the beginning. but as i read and learned more and more, it became clear to me that he also called this new form of energy the aether. but he had never discarded it because it was a concept he grew up with and it was commonly understood in the 19th century.

so when 20th century physics decided it didn't exist anymore, as a result of Einstein's theory of relativity, Tesla ignored that and he always looked to his own unique understanding which was based on other influences from the past.

bc:  what do you think of the Michelson-Morley experiment which (supposedly) debunked the theory of the aether. [2]  what is your take on that, in terms of western science which says it doesn't exist, how can you pursue the aether in terms of science and scientists?

hh:  i personally do not understand how a single experiment can discredit an entire phenomenon - it doesn't really make sense to me.

bc:  is that because of the larger cultural context of the aether?

hh:  yes, because of the larger cultural context... i've always thought that there was an energy all around us and that this energy was also related to life energy, subtle energy, chi/qi in oriental systems. and it made sense to me that this was all part of the same energy that's been defined in many different ways across different cultures, [3] and also coming from fields of astrophysics and of biology - in what is now known as biophysics.

and, so a lot of the discoveries with new energy are basically pointing to the same energy. and there are many different understandings of it. but to me it makes sense that it's another level/field of energy that is not electromagnetic.

bc:  what is the relationship between electromagnetism and the aether, in this approach?

hh:  when i began reading about Tesla and also Tesla's own writings, i discovered he describes his understanding of electromagnetism in acoustic terms. and i came to understand that when he talked about the energy he was tapping into that wasn't electromagnetic, he said it was non-hertzian and 'longitudinal'... [5]

bc: ...what do you mean by 'longitudinal'?

hh:  'standing waves', as opposed to tranverse waves, electromagnetic waves. [6]

bc:  was Tesla alone in this thought at the time, or is this a general view...?

hh:  i really don't have the background and knowledge to answer that with any clarity but he was taking principles of the acoustic resonators of Helmholtz and combining them with elements of the work of Arago, Galvani, Volta, Boscovich, Faraday, and Lord Kelvin to arrive at his own unique understanding of the world.

bc:  so the relationship of electromagnetism to the aether, your understanding comes from Tesla's view which is based upon his experiments, in which he found there is something other than electromagnetism (organizing the cosmos)... the aether is something other than electromagnetism...

hh:  this new energy has very unique properties - it's basically mass-free, it's without charge, and it's behaving in ways that can't be predicted with laws of electromagnetism, so it's operating in a different realm, almost.

bc:  and is he alone in thinking this or was this the cultural thought, thoughout the time, about the aether?

hh:  i think he was very much alone in thinking this, and i think that is why he worked in such isolation.

bc:  now, i want to get the focus away from Tesla to your understanding, because you are making this film...

so we're talking about Tesla, we're talking about the aether, and i am trying to get into your framework of what we're talking about, so you can say 'Tesla said this, Tesla said that' -- yet i am more interested in what you think -- i am trying to setup the situation, the perspective i am trying to capture - because i am interviewing you -- i am trying to get to what you understand...

hh:  okay, personally, i think this energy has always existed, and i've always felt at odds with a physics that didn't seem to understand it or to have a way of measuring it - and that actually seemed to be the problem - that it was so subtle that there were no instruments that were sensitive enough to pick it up.

and i think this goes through physics, astrophysics, medicine; whenever i've read any stories about dark energy, i've always thought 'that's the aether', 'there's the aether' - in physics, in biophysics, in biology...

bc:  how? is this, uh, like in Powerlines (your film), you mentioned 'tiny bodies' -

hh:  somatids. [7]

bc:  are they related to the aether?

hh:  well, i can't really make a direct connection, what Gaston Naessens had discovered was a tiny particle that he proposed was the most fundamental unit of life...

bc:  okay. so would that be concerned with, like in biophysics - there's a layer of things and beneath that layer is the aether?

hh: {yes}

bc:  and so when you are talking about chi or life energy, that 'aetheric' energy might be mediated in acupuncture or homeopathy...

hh: [exactly, yes]  it's mediated in many different healing modalities that tend to be non-western... acupuncture and homeopathy are really good examples. there's all kinds of magnetic healing and use of magnets and that sort of thing that's working with this kind of energy.

bc:  would you say Feng Shui also? i mean, would it go into 'environments'? [8]

hh:  in the sense that it is probably tapping into geomagnetic fields and magnetic north and that sort of thing, yes...

bc:  but that it's not the aether necessarily, because magnetism is electromagnetic?

hh:  but it's a form of energy, it's aetheric energy, i would say, yes.

bc:  how can you say that, what is your logic? because you just said that Tesla said that it wasn't electromagnetism, it functions by different laws, {yes} - and then you're referencing things that might work on concepts like geomagnetic meridians or whatever and-or different types of...

hh:  well, there's other forms of energy that interact with the aether and that basically structure it in some way, and that make aetheric energy accessible...

bc:  and so is this something like the classic map and territory question: the aether is the territory and these different things (magnetism, electricity) are mapping it in different ways...

hh:  or structuring it. if you think about form and music, geometry might create structure in music. in fact, it's very similar principles.

bc:  is geometry related to the aether?

hh:  i think so, i think it's related to a way of structuring it.

bc:  is number related to the aether?

hh:  i think so. [9]

bc:  so; the relationship between electromagnetism and the aether -- and then you mention 'sound'...

now, you've mentioned Tesla had an idea about sound and the aether, which is going to be the basis for your film, Pictures of Infinity, [0] that you've talked about -- that Tesla had this connection with sound that informed his understanding of physics...

and his physics, when you mention something like 'non-Hertzian', you have something like Hertz and radio waves, defining 'radio' through Hertzian waves, i imagine, but when you say 'non-Hertzian', Hertzian was a myth...

hh:  that's what Tesla said. [10]

bc:  and so how can that be -- is it that the concept of electromagnetism is wrong, or that it's not what's actually being dealt with at a more fundamental level?

hh:  it's not that it was wrong... but Tesla believed that when he was experimenting with really high radio frequencies with his Magnifying Transmitter in Colorado Springs, [11] that the radio frequency energy was actually accessing this very high frequency aether - it was basically ripping apart the current field of the ionosphere and revealing an underlying structure... which is partially revealed with those purple streams of lightning...

Tesla coil discharge

bc:  (emitted from Tesla Coils) [12]

hh:  that was the energy he called the aether.

bc:  what are they traditionally known as, those streamers, those purple or ultraviolet streamers, whatever color they are - are they known by Tesla people as a certain thing, glowlets or something?

hh:  artificial lightning. streamers. some say that it's a form of plasma. [13]

bc:  one of the things that we are kind of getting around is this idea of sound and the aether. and you gave a talk at the Bakken Library [14] and you described how harmonics, resonance, vibration, and frequency - all of these can be related to the aether. which (you said) Tesla did but you also do in your own work. {yes}

the thing that is interesting to me is that, um, what you are saying is that, in my talking with you before, is that there is an intuitive way to grasp this subtle realm. and that there's these highly abstract things like Special Theory of Relativity and these other things, uh, that make it incredibly hard to relate to things...

hh:  well, i think, it's almost as though it's not describing the reality that we know and understand.

bc:  implicitly, in terms of living beings, you are saying?

hh:  yes. and i think that is part of what's been motivating me for so long, because... something i've been very interested in as a composer is music's relationship to physics - and in particular (the physics of) tuning systems. [15]

bc:  so, what i am trying to get at is, we talked about sound... electromagnetism's relation to the aether which you said a couple times that Tesla said that it was inaccurate in terms of describing the aether. but then you said he referenced sound and you've referenced sound, and so you've compared, uh, you've said this aether (in your talk) could be related to musical concepts and principles {yes}, and okay, and that this seems to be a way of quote unquote 'grounding" -- 'of experience', of firsthand 'experience'...

hh:  yes, in the natural world or in the 'real world' or whatever.

bc:  so when something happens in the realm of phenomena, is that... are you saying that that is happening in the aether? {yes} and it is not just a manifestation of atoms and molecules in an electromagnetic field {right}, but that there is something underlying it and what-is-that-thing. {right}

and so you previously mentioned there is like a medium, and we've talked about this quite a bit... - and so electromagnetism -- its relation to physics would be like a layer atop of the aether -- i mean, would it be sitting on top of this other thing? {yes} -- and so, when we see fields and we see charge, {yes} that the aether is not charge {exactly} but it sustains charge {yes, that's it}, and so it's a structure...

hh:  it's a structure, it's an underlying structure.

bc:  and it's equivalent to sound or it is the basis for sound or it relates to sound?

hh:  it relates to sound.

bc:  but sound comes through it...

hh:  yes.

bc:  and so, what my question is...

hh:  i think sound accesses it. it can be accessed through sound.

– notes, part 1 –

[0]  Pictures of Infinity (2)

[1]  Powerlines is a poetic documentary film about the mystery of electromagnetic fields, the promise of new energy and the dangers of electromagnetic pollution.

[2]  Michelson-Morley experiment (1887)

[3]  for example, 'akasha' in Hindu philosophy is described as: "a supposed universal etheric field in which a record of past events is imprinted" (New Oxford American Dictionary) and "the ether, regarded as including material and nonmaterial entities in a common medium." (Random House Dictionary)

[4]  Aether theories

[5]  longitudinal wave

[6]  standing waves

[7]  somatids - Gaston Naessens

[8]  Feng Shui

[9]  hh: in his experiments, Tesla applied the simple mathematics of the Ancient Greeks. Pythagoras, a philosopher and mathematician, discovered that properties of mathematical and physical objects have a direct 1:1 correspondence, such as the correlation of number to musical tone. the numerical relationship of vibrations to each other creates resonance, and Tesla applied this principle to his inventions to extract energy from the aether.

[10]  Nikola Tesla - Non-Hertzian Waves

[11]  Magnifying Transmitter

[12]  Tesla Coil

[13]  Tesla Coil - Air discharges (streamers, leaders)

[14]  The Bakken Library and Museum

[15]  Tuning Systems