Tesla, Dr. Nikola (1856-1943)
"Tesla logged in his diary on July 3, 1899 that a separate resonance transformer tuned to the same high frequency as a larger high-voltage resonance transformer would transceive energy from the larger coil, acting as a transmitter of wireless energy, which was used to confirm Tesla's patent for radio during later disputes in the courts. These air core high-frequency resonate coils were the predecessors of systems from radio to radar and medical magnetic resonance imaging devices."  This information was later used to confirm his patent for radio which he received posthumously in 1946, 3 years after his death. .
engineering students... from Cornell, Yale
Cornell is Pynchon's alma mater, where he initially studied engineering. Pynchonwiki Thomas Pynchon bio
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was a Scottish mathematical physicist among the pioneers of electromagnetism. Pynchon made use of his theoretical "Maxwell's Demon" in The Crying of Lot 49. Wikipedia entry
So is altitude transformed, continuously, to light
The potential energy of water at an altitude is realized when it falls, producing the flow of electricity required for the production of artificial light.
Hamilton had experienced at Brougham Bridge
William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865) was an Irish mathematician, physicist, and astronomer who made important contributions to the development of optics, dynamics, and algebra. His discovery of quaternions is perhaps his best known investigation. The discovery of quaternions reportedly occurred during a walk with his wife by the Royal Canal in Dublin. Upon having the inspiration for the formula, he promptly carved it into the bricks on the side of the canal. Wikipedia entry
The Enrollment Act of 1863 allowed draftees to pay $300 to a substitute who would serve for them. (See here for an example substitution form.) J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, James Mellon and future president Grover Cleveland all hired substitutes. Within a year the price had gone up to $1,100, however. Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments
blindness at the heart of a diamond
This enigmatic imagery is reflected (no pun intended) in a few references:
"where the light came down sifted through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless as the heart of a diamond. " (Anne of Green Gables, Chapt. 15, by Lucy Maud Montgomery)
"It was a singularly sharp night, and clear as the heart of a diamond." A Story that is Untrue by Ambrose Bierce
An early incandescent lamp invented by Hermann Nernst, which made use of a heated ceramic rod to produce light in ambient air (in contrast to Edison's incandescent, which required a vacuum to operate).
Hermann Nernst was also responsible for first formulating the Third Law of Thermodynamics, also called the Nernst Heat Theorem. "Nernst Heat Theorem (Third Law of Thermodynamics) was presented by Walther Nernst on December 23, 1905 at a meeting of the Königliche Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen."
Dr. Mikimoto (Kokichi)
Produced the first cultured pearl in 1893 in Toba, Japan. As he left school at 13 to help support his family, any Doctorate he may have obtained must have been honorary.
See this handy "About Geology" page , with an illustration demonstrating a spar's double-refraction effect on printed letters--remarkably like that on the cover of ATD! This kind of calcite has rhombohedral cleavage, because each of its faces is a rhombus, a warped rectangle in which none of the corners are square. A "spar" would be not the whole calcite crystal, but a cleavage fragment. Is each of the rectangular pages of ATD then a warped cleavage from some sort of crystalline whole, refracting its text in several directions at once? Of course, to the Chums the text message they receive from Upper Hierarchy has but one simple meaning. "Paramorphism" = the structural alteration of a mineral without any change in its chemical composition.
1775-1812, a French officer and mathematician whose work was predominantly concerned with light. He studied ray systems, and his theory on polarisation was published in 1809. His theory of the double refraction of light in crystals was published in 1810. Wikipedia
Malus is also the genus of the apple.
1656-1742, Halley was an English physical scientist most remembered for the comet he which he predicted would return. In 1692 he proposed that the earth was hollow. In 1698 he departed on a two year voyage as captain of the HMS Paramore in order to measure variations in the Earth's magnetic field. In 1716 he suggested timing the transit of Venus to determine the distance between the earth and the sun.
royal court of Chthonica
The adjective chthonic means "of the earth" or "of the underworld" and is often used to refer to the gods and other entities residing under the surface of the earth. The adjective is used creatively, and most famously, in the fictional works of H.P. Lovecraft ... a chief deity of his ficitional universe being Cthulhu.
"Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" is an archetypal figure of conservative England whose correspondence can be found frequently in newspapers railing at the latest outrages of modernity. Tunbridge Wells briefly features in Gravity's Rainbow.
my harmless little intraterrestrial scherzo
Once again, the unseen narrator appears. By inference, the narrator is also the author of the various Chums of Chance... books referenced in ATD. This episode's also a little inter-textual scherzo: Poe (Arthur Gordon Pym), Jules Verne, Star Trek ... and Jeremiah Dixon's own underground journey in M&D. Doesn't Chick Counterfly sound rather Spockian here (cf. 115, bottom)?