Nikola Tesla


Serbian-American Inventor, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, Inventor of Alternating Current and Holder of Over 1200 Patents

Author Quotes

They laughed in 1896, too when I told them about the cosmic ray. They jeered 35 years ago when I discovered the rotating field principle of alternating currents. They called me crazy when I predicted the radio. And when I sent the first impulse around the world, they said it couldn't be done.

I propose to show that, however impossible it may now seem, an automaton may be contrived which will have its own mind and by this I mean, that it will be able, independently of an operator, left entirely by itself, to perform, in response to external influences affecting its sensitive organs, a great variety of acts and operations as if it had intelligence...In fact, I have already conceived of such a plan!

You do not see there a wireless torpedo, you see the first of a race of robots, mechanical men, which will do the laborious work of the human race. (demonstrating remote control at Madison Square Garden)

When a word was said to me, the image of the object which was designated would appear vividly before my eyes, and many times it was impossible for me to tell whether the object I saw was real or not.

I am not an inventor. I am a discoverer of new scientific principles.
(When offered to share the Nobel Prize with Edison for their electrical inventions, Tesla turned the prestigious award down! Edison never received the Nobel).

So long as there are different nationalities, there will be patriotism. This feeling must be eradicated from our hearts before permanent peace can be established. Its place must be filled by love of nature and scientific ideal. Science and discovery are the great forces which will lead to that consummation....The consequences of such an advance are incalculable. A new epoch in human history would be inaugurated and a colossal revolution in moral, social and other respects accomplished, innumerable causes of trouble would be removed, our lives profoundly modified for the better, and a new and firm foundation laid to all that makes for peace.

The establishment of permanent peaceful relations between nations would most effectively reduce the force retarding the human mass, and would be the best solution of this great human problem. But will the dream of universal peace ever be realized? Let us hope that it will. When all darkness shall be dissipated by the light of science, when all nations shall be merged into one, and patriotism shall be identical with religion, when there shall be one language, one country, one end, then the dream will have become reality

Impossible as it seemed, the planet, despite its vast extent, behaves like a conductor of limited dimensions. The tremendous significance to this fact in the transmission of energy in my system had already become quite clear to me. Not only was it possible to send telegraphic messages to any distance without wires, as I recognized long ago, but also to impress on the entire globe the faint modulation of the human voice. Far more significant is the ability to transmit power in unlimited amounts to almost any terrestrial distance and without loss.

If we use our fuel to get our power, we are living on our capital and exhausting it rapidly. This method is barbarous and wantonly wasteful, and will have to be stopped in the interest of coming generations. The heat of the sun's rays represents an immense amount of energy vastly in excess of waterpower...The sun's energy controlled to create lakes and rivers for motive purposes and transformation of arid deserts into fertile land.

Even matter called inorganic, believed to be dead, responds to irritants and gives unmistakable evidence of a living principle within. Everything that exists, organic or inorganic, animated or inert, is susceptible to stimulus from the outside.

The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter—for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way.

When we speak of man, we have a conception of humanity as a whole, and before applying scientific methods to the investigation of his movement we must accept this as a physical fact. But can anyone doubt to-day that all the millions of individuals and all the innumerable types and characters constitute an entity, a unit? Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them. I cut myself in the finger, and it pains me: this finger is a part of me. I see a friend hurt, and it hurts me, too: my friend and I are one. And now I see stricken down an enemy, a lump of matter which, of all the lumps of matter in the universe, I care least for, and it still grieves me. Does this not prove that each of us is only part of a whole?
For ages this idea has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one. Metaphysical proofs are, however, not the only ones which we are able to bring forth in support of this idea. Science, too, recognizes this connectedness of separate individuals, though not quite in the same sense as it admits that the suns, planets, and moons of a constellation are one body, and there can be no doubt that it will be experimentally confirmed in times to come, when our means and methods for investigating psychical and other states and phenomena shall have been brought to great perfection. Still more: this one human being lives on and on. The individual is ephemeral, races and nations come and pass away, but man remains. Therein lies the profound difference between the individual and the whole.

The individual is ephemeral, races and nations come and pass away, but man remains.

All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle

It is not a dream, it is a simple feat of scientific electrical engineering, only expensive — blind, faint-hearted, doubting world! [...] Humanity is not yet sufficiently advanced to be willingly led by the discoverer's keen searching sense. But who knows? Perhaps it is better in this present world of ours that a revolutionary idea or invention instead of being helped and patted, be hampered and ill-treated in its adolescence — by want of means, by selfish interest, pedantry, stupidity and ignorance; that it be attacked and stifled; that it pass through bitter trials and tribulations, through the strife of commercial existence. So do we get our light. So all that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combatted, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle. (Tesla at the end of his dream for Wardenclyffe)

Invention is the most important product of man's creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs.

Everyone should consider his
body as a priceless gift from
one whom he loves above all, a
marvelous work of art, of
indescribable beauty, and
mystery beyond human conception, and so delicate that
a word, a breath, a look, nay, a
thought may injure it.

I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.

What we now want is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth, and the elimination of egoism and pride which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife... Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment.

If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.

Now, I must tell you of a strange experience which bore fruit in my later life. We had a cold [snap] drier than even observed before. People walking in the snow left a luminous trail. [As I stroked] Mačak's back, [it became] a sheet of light and my hand produced a shower of sparks. My father remarked, this is nothing but electricity, the same thing you see on the trees in a storm. My mother seemed alarmed. Stop playing with the cat, she said, he might start a fire. I was thinking abstractly. Is nature a cat? If so, who strokes its back? It can only be God, I concluded.
I cannot exaggerate the effect of this marvelous sight on my childish imagination. Day after day I asked myself what is electricity and found no answer. Eighty years have gone by since and I still ask the same question, unable to answer it.

It has cost me years of thought to arrive at certain results, by many believed to be unattainable, for which there are now numerous claimants, and the number of these is rapidly increasing, like that of the colonels in the South after the war.

The day when we shall know exactly what “electricity” is, will chronicle an event probably greater, more important than any other recorded in the history of the human race. The time will come when the comfort, the very existence, perhaps, of man will depend upon that wonderful agent.

How extraordinary was my life an incident may illustrate... [As a youth] I was fascinated by a description of Niagara Falls I had perused, and pictured in my imagination a big wheel run by the Falls. I told my uncle that I would go to America and carry out this scheme. Thirty years later I saw my ideas carried out at Niagara and marveled at the unfathomable mystery of the mind.

The problem was rendered extremely difficult, owing to the immense dimensions of the planet... But by gradual and continuous improvements of a generator of electrical oscillations... I finally succeeded in reaching rates of delivery of electrical energy actually surpassing those of lightning discharges... By use of such a generator of stationary waves and receiving apparatus properly placed and adjusted in any other locality, however remote, it is practicable to transmit intelligible signals, or to control or actuate at will any one apparatus for many other important and valuable purposes.

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Serbian-American Inventor, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, Inventor of Alternating Current and Holder of Over 1200 Patents