Nikola Tesla


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

Author Quotes

More than 35 years ago, I undertook the production of these phenomena (of lightning) and, in 1899 I actually succeeded, using a generator of 2,000 horsepower, in obtaining discharges of 18,000,000 volts carrying currents of 1,200 amperes, which were of such power as to be audible at a distance of 13 miles. I also learned how to produce such lightnings as occur in Nature, and mastered all the technical difficulties in this connection. But I found that even in the small and comparatively negligible trigger work called for the employment of thousands of horsepower; and this is the great obstacle now in the way of this supreme accomplishment.

You may live to see man-made horrors beyond your comprehension.

Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.

Our senses enable us to perceive only a minute portion of the outside world.

What the result of these investigations will be the future will tell; but whatever they may be, and to whatever this principle may lead, I shall be sufficiently recompensed if later it will be admitted that I have contributed a share, however small, to the advancement of science.

But I hope that it will also be demonstrated soon that in my experiments in the West I was not merely beholding a vision, but had caught sight of a great and profound truth.

These scientific developments may even affect our morals and customs. Perhaps we shall shortly get so used to this state of things that nobody will feel the slightest embarrassment while he is conscious that his skeleton and other particulars are being scrutinized by indelicate observers.

Following up these promising revelations I demonstrated conclusively by experiments that great amounts of electrical energy can be transmitted to any distance through upper air strata which are easily accessible, and since this truth has been recognized every fiber has been strained to realize such a transmission on a large scale.

That is the trouble with many inventors; they lack patience. They lack the willingness to work a thing out slowly and clearly and sharply in their mind, so that they can actually 'feel it work.' They want to try their first idea right off; and the result is they use up lots of money and lots of good material, only to find eventually that they are working in the wrong direction. We all make mistakes, and it is better to make them before we begin.

The idea gradually took hold of me that the earth might be used in place of the wire, thus dispensing with artificial conductors altogether. The immensity of the globe seemed an unsurmountable obstacle but after a prolonged study of the subject I became satisfied that the undertaking was rational.

My project was retarded by laws of nature. The world was not prepared for it. It was too far ahead of time. But the same laws will prevail in the end and make it a triumphal success. [on the magnifying transmitter]

The desire that guides me in all I do is the desire to harness the forces of nature to the service of mankind.

Technical invention is akin to architecture and the experts must in time come to the same conclusions I have reached long ago. Sooner or later my power system will have to be adopted in its entirety and so far as I am concerned it is as good as done.

It is quite evident, though, that this squandering cannot go on indefinitely, for geological investigations prove our fuel stores to be limited. So great has been the drain on them of late years that the specter of exhaustion is looming up threateningly in the distance.

The opinion of the world does not affect me. I have placed as the real values in my life what follows when I am dead.

Life is and will ever remain an equation incapable of solution, but it contains certain known factors.

The papers, which thirty years ago conferred upon me the honor of American citizenship, are always kept in a safe, while my orders, diplomas, degrees, gold medals and other distinctions are packed away in old trunks.

If the genius of invention were to reveal to-morrow the secret of immortality, of eternal beauty and youth, for which all humanity is aching, the same inexorable agents which prevent a mass from changing suddenly its velocity would likewise resist the force of the new knowledge until time gradually modifies human thought.

There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without.

Most certainly, some planets are not inhabited, but others are, and among these there must exist life under all conditions and phases of development.

We build but to tear down. Most of our work and resource is squandered. Our onward march is marked by devastation. Everywhere there is an appalling loss of time, effort and life. A cheerless view, but true.

With a different form of wireless instrument devised by me some years ago it was found practicable to locate a body of metallic ore below the ground, and it seems that a submarine could be similarly detected.

It is a simple feat of scientific electrical engineering — only expensive — blind, faint-hearted, doubting world.

It is true that some of them have had to do with wireless telegraphy and that in addition to the tower and poles there is a hole dug in the ground. This is 150 feet deep and is used in these experiments. The people about there, had they been awake instead of asleep, at other times would have seen even stranger things. Some day, but not at this time, I shall make an announcement of something that I never once dreamed of.

While I have not lost faith in its potentialities, my views have changed since. War can not be avoided until the physical cause for its recurrence is removed and this, in the last analysis, is the vast extent of the planet on which we live. Only though annihilation of distance in every respect, as the conveyance of intelligence, transport of passengers and supplies and transmission of energy will conditions be brought about some day, insuring permanency of friendly relations. What we now want most is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth and the elimination of that fanatic devotion to exalted ideals of national egoism and pride, which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife. No league or parliamentary act of any kind will ever prevent such a calamity. These are only new devices for putting the weak at the mercy of the strong.

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