Roberto Landell de Moura was born in the City of Porto Alegre, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil on January 21, 1861.
I have been unable to discover much about his early life, if I do this page will be updated. Most of what I have found about Roberto is written in Portuguese so I've had to translate it (thanks to Bablefish) and then turn it into understandable English.
Roberto went to the Polytechnic School of Rio de Janeiro. Then, with his brother William, went to Rome, registering in 1878 in the South American College (Collegio Pio-Latino-Americano Pontificio) and Pontifical Gregorian University (Pontificia Università Gregoriana), where he studied physics and chemistry. Roberto graduated in theology and was ordained as a priest in 1886.
Father Landell, as he preferred to be known after ordination, managed (mostly) to mix his love of physics and chemistry with his ordination a Catholic priest, not an easy task as often, religon and science are on opposing sides in a debate.
Father Landell was the man who accomplished, for the first time the "transmission of the human voice by a wireless machine by transmitting an electromagnetic wave, modulated by an audio signal" (voice over radio). He conducted his first public experiment on June 3, 1900 in front of journalists and the General Consul of Great Britain, Mr C P Lupton, in São Paulo, Brazil. His signals were received approximately 8 km away. At the time the only available means of communications were the Wired Telegraph, the Wired Telephone or Radiotelegraphy. The great challenge was to transmit an audio signal without the aid of wires. Several scientists were trying to accomplish this, but Father Landell was noted as the first to succeed. What's more he developed it totally on his own, he was the scientist, engineer and builder! Fessenden achieved his first voice transmission on December 23 the same year.
Just one year after the experiment in public he received his first patent from the Brazilian government. It was described as "equipment for the purpose of phonetic transmissions through space, land and water elements at a distance with or without the use of wires". The patent is dated March 9, 1901.
Four months later, conscious that his invention had real value, he left Brazil for the United States of America with the intent of patenting the machine at the U S Patent Office in Washington, DC. With scarce resources he had to rely on friends to push ahead his project. In spite of great difficulties, three patents were finally awarded: "The Wave Transmitter" (October 11, 1904) which is the precursor of today's radio transceiver; "The Wireless Telephone" and the "Wireless Telegraph", both those dated November 22, 1904.
In that same year Father Landell conceived yet another invention, the "Telephotorama", or "Distance Vision", the precursor of television as we know it today, which would not be demonstrated publicly until 1926. A few of his manuscripts infer that some video communications problems had already been solved by him. This allows us to conclude that Father Landell was also, perhaps, the "Father" of Television (pun intended).
With the support of three U S patents, Father Landell believed that his future was a bright one. When he returned to Brazil he wrote to the then President of Brazil, Mr Rodrigues Alves, requesting the use of two Navy ships to conduct radio transmission experiments. In his letter he expressed that the vessels should be placed "at the greatest distance possible between them, since in the future, Radio would be used for Space Travel Communications". That statement caused him to be judged mentally unstable, and he received, after a long delay, a Presidential Diplomatic Response Letter declaring the unavailability of such Naval equipment!
In 1904 Father Landell invented an engine that he named "Bioelectrographic Machine". He was the pioneer of the first scientific and systematic researches on the Bioelectrography field, from 1904 until 1912, at worldwide level. However he was obliged by Catholic Church to stop those researches for reasons of Church Doctrin and they tried to confiscate his notes. Many of his reports escaped the Churches confiscation and are in a safe place, currently the Father Roberto Landell de Moura Museum, in Porto Alegre, Brazil (see? I told you science & religion didn't mix well)! During his 8 year research Father Landell took hundreds of photos and named the halo around the human body as "Perianto".
But what was / is Bioelectrography and why did the Church not like it?I hear you ask. I cannot answer why the Church didn't like it (but I think you may come up with your own ideas), however I can tell you that:
Bioelectrography, now called Kirlian Photography, is a high voltage, contact print photography. The process is quite simple: Sheet film is placed on top of a metal plate, called the discharge or film plate. The object to photograph is placed on top of the film. If the object to be Kirlian photographed is inanimate, such as a coin or leaf, an earthed ground is connected to the object. High voltage is applied to the plate momentarily to make an exposure. The corona discharge between the object and discharge plate passes through and is recorded onto the film. When the film is developed you have a Kirlian photograph of the object. The Kirlian process, being a contact print process, doesn't require the use of a camera or lens, however if a transparent electrode is substituted for the discharge plate it is possible to use an ordinary camera, video camera or CCD device (digital camera) for imaging.
These days there are companies selling equipment to take these photos that claim the resulting image is paranormal or holds information that can be decrypted by the company's Kirlian researchers. I think they just need a gimmick to sell their goods, the corona discharge can be explained by employing known physical laws, like changes in subjects skin resistance (due to factors such as stress, illness, fatigue etc) without the necessity of invoking paranormal factors. Some other variable factors influencing the resulting Kirlian picture including pressure of the object against film, air pressure, air humidity, voltage level, voltage frequency, and exposure time. Anyway, back to Father Landell.
Neither Father Landell nor Brazil appear in the legitimate credits for radio or television but, hopefully, this article will go some way toward rectifying the omissions.
The Science and Technology Foundation of Rio Grande do Sul (CIENTEC) built a replica of The Wave Transmitter (below) and, upon the conclusion of tests made upon the replica, it was determined that the transceiver works, and is uncontested proof of Father Landells' genius. The equipment is on display for public viewing at the Fundação Educacional Padre Landell de Moura (FEPLAM (translated: Father Landell de Moura Educational Foundation)), in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul.
Father Landell passed away in his home town of Porto Alegre, on June 30, 1928.