Radio in the early years was called “wireless telegraphy.” Beginning around the year 1913, amateur wireless telegraph stations were set up in trees and on housetops. Aerials and masts dotted the countryside. It is estimated that there was almost “a quarter of a million stations.” They were used to send and receive wireless telegraph signals, not voice. Vacuum tubes were not yet widely known. These stations had to rely on spark gaps.
It was the energy spikes, or surges that the spark gap transmitters generated that first caught T. H. Moray’s attention back in 1903. In 1909, Moray devised a circuit that would draw electricity from the surges of energy that were thought to travel through the ground. By the fall of 1910, he obtained enough electrical energy from the ground to power a miniature arc lamp. During the Christmas holidays of 1911, he was able to power an old type 16-candle carbon arc lamp at about half of its normal brightness.
In 1912 while Henry Moray was on mission with the Mormon Church in Uppsala, Sweden, his passion for crystal radios got him started in his research in the science of radiant energy. Every spare moment he searched for a mineral that could work as a good radio detector. Moray had found two specimens that worked well as radio detectors. The material that he found in the hillside could have very well been a type of argenti-zinciferrous-galena. This type of galena is highly sensitive to radio waves that would have allowed his receiver to function without a battery. My finding here is based on the fact that Moray describes a synthetic galena type formula in his Electrotherapeutic Apparatus – U.S. Patent No. 2,460,707. This material could have used only the power transmitted from a local wireless station to drive a small horn speaker as he has reported.
The other detector material was a white, powdery, stone-like material that he found in a railway car, located in Abisko, Sweden. Military Contract No. F42600-75-2212, Hill Airforce Base, Ogden, Utah, Final Report dated April 15, 1977, page 4, 2.6.2, indicates that it contained a small amount of crystallized silicate but consisted mostly of “fused silicate.” Silica is the chemical name for the simple oxide of silicon, silicon dioxide (SiO2). Mineralogists call this compound quartz. This is normally found in nature in its crystalline form. What Moray could have found is quartz in a metamict state. Metamict minerals are formed when a crystalline mineral loses its crystalline structure due to radioactive destruction. It must contain at least impurity amounts of uranium and, or thorium. In its metamict state, quartz is in a more or less amorphous state, owing to radiation damage from a-decay. “Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, a-decay doses as high as 1019 decays/g can occur, which may lead to the complete amorphization” (1) of the quartz structure. What Moray probably ended up with is an artificial willemite, by powdering his crystallized quartz and adding powdered zincite (ZnO) mineral to it, and then heat fusing them together. Artificial willemite is a white lumpy substance. Chemically, it is an anhydrous silicate of zinc, having the composition ZnO SiO2. When willemite is exposed to a preparation of radium, it fluoresces with a fine green glow. The luminosity produced by the proximity of even a small quantity of radium, such as one-thirteenth of a grain, is sufficient to enable the time to be read on a watch in total darkness. The luminosity of the artificial substance is, in some cases, superior to the natural mineral.
Moray’s mineral find became known as the “Swedish Stone.” He was able to light a standard 100-watt General Electric light bulb in June of 1925 using this material in his circuitry. By August 1925 he was able power an electric flat iron along with a 100-watt bulb. Therefore, bringing the total power consumed to 655 watts. People would quite often demand that he would draw too much power from his device and the white, stone-like material would overheat and burn up.
The Federal Radio Commission on Nov. 11, 1928 limited the amount that could be transmitted from telegraph stations. Because of this Moray’s energy device could no longer generate high wattage. His device depended on these stations to excite the Swedish Stone into giving up its energy. Scores of spark gap driven telegraph stations had to be dismantled and in effect had been given death sentences. This spelled disaster for Moray. His device would still generate power but the amount of power that it generated was restrained. Originally, Moray’s device had relied on the telegraph stations to excite it into generating electrical power. This forced him to find another way to excite his circuitry. Moray could utilize the natural background radio energy but unfortunately, the result was that only very low power would be generated. This forced Moray to develop a more sensitive detector material. It was not too long before he got the inspiration to add ionizing radioactive substances to it. This new detector was housed in a quartz tube in order to control its environment. This was done so that it would not oxidize. This line of research occurred shortly after the Radio Allocation Act of 1928 when Moray’s detectors were no longer able to generate steady power. His Radiant Energy circuitry could still produce power but it only did so in pulses. The power was not constant. The addition of radioactive impurities allowed the production of a steady flow of energy.
Moray built his last radiant energy device in 1943. This device was able to light a bank of light bulbs. The amount of lamps and their respective wattage were not specified. The device had burned out the same year during one of its test runs. This was due to “an overload in the circuit.” When the circuitry burned out Moray decided to dismantle the detector “out of fear of compromising its secret.”