AC/DC: The War of Currents

EDISON WAS A JOKE

On 6 June 1884, Tesla first arrived in the US in New York City with little besides a letter of recommendation from Charles Batchelor, a former employer. In the letter of recommendation to Thomas Edison, Batchelor wrote, “I know two great men and you are one of them; the other is this young man”.

Edison hired Tesla to work for his Edison Machine Works. Tesla’s work for Edison began with simple electrical engineering and quickly progressed to solving some of the company’s most difficult problems. Tesla was even offered the task of completely redesigning the Edison company’s direct current generators.

Tesla claims he was offered US$50,000, if he redesigned Edison’s inefficient motor and generators, making an improvement in both service and economy. Tesla said he worked night and day on the project and gave the Edison Company several profitable new patents in the process. In 1885, when Tesla inquired about the payment for his work, Edison replied, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor,” thus breaking his word.

Bad feelings were exacerbated because Tesla had been cheated by Edison of promised compensation for his work.

Earning a mere US$18 per week, Tesla would have had to work for 53 years to earn the amount he was promised. The offer was equal to the initial capital of the company. Tesla then immediately resigned when he was refused a raise to US$25 per week.

Tesla remained bitter in the aftermath of his incident with Edison. The day after Edison died the New York Times contained extensive coverage of Edison’s life, with the only negative opinion coming from Tesla, who was quoted as saying:

«He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene  … His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor’s instinct and practical American sense».

 

TWO RIVALS, NO NOBEL

Tesla, in need of work, eventually found himself digging ditches for a short period of time for the Edison company. He saw the manual labor as a terrible job, but Tesla used this time to focus on his AC polyphase system.

Several years after, Edison and Tesla got involved in the War of Currents. Edison invented DC, Tesla AC.

Edison was a brute-force experimenter, but was no mathematician. AC cannot be properly understood or exploited without a substantial understanding of mathematics and mathematical physics (see AC power), which Tesla possessed.

Tesla had worked for Edison but was undervalued (for example, when Edison first learned of Tesla’s idea of alternating-current power transmission, he dismissed it: “[Tesla’s] ideas are splendid, but they are utterly impractical”.

Edison would later come to regret that he had not listened to Tesla and used alternating current.

Alternating current (AC) could be transmitted over long distances at high voltages, at lower current for lower voltage drops (thus with greater transmission efficiency), and then conveniently stepped down to low voltages for use in homes and factories.

When Tesla introduced a system for alternating current generators, transformers, motors, wires and lights in November and December 1887, it became clear that AC was the future of electric power distribution, although Direct Current (DC) distribution was used in downtown metropolitan areas for decades thereafter.

Since the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Marconi for radio in 1909, Thomas Edison and Tesla were mentioned as potential laureates to share the Nobel Prize of 1915 in a press dispatch, leading to one of several Nobel Prize controversies. Some sources have claimed that due to their animosity toward each other neither was given the award, despite their enormous scientific contributions, and that each sought to minimize the other one’s achievements and right to win the award, that both refused to ever accept the award if the other received it first, and that both rejected any possibility of sharing it.

 

EDISON AND ANIMAL KILLING

Edison carried out a campaign to discourage the use of alternating current, including spreading disinformation on fatal AC accidents, publicly killing animals, and lobbying against the use of AC in state legislatures.

Edison directed his technicians, primarily Arthur Kennelly and Harold P. Brown, to preside over several AC-driven executions of animals, primarily stray cats and dogs but also unwanted cattle and horses. Acting on these directives, they were to demonstrate to the press that alternating current was more dangerous than Edison’s system of direct current.

He also tried to popularize the term for being electrocuted as being “Westinghoused”. Westinghouse was Tesla’s financer.

Years after DC had lost the “war of the currents,” in 1902, his film crew made a movie of the electrocution with high voltage AC, supervised by Edison employees, of Topsy, a Coney Island circus elephant who had recently killed a man.

Edison opposed capital punishment, but his desire to disparage the system of alternating current led to the invention of the electric chair. Harold P. Brown, who was at this time being secretly paid by Edison, constructed the first electric chair for the state of New York in order to promote the idea that alternating current was deadlier than DC.

When the chair was first used, on August 6, 1890, the technicians on hand misjudged the voltage needed to kill the condemned prisoner, William Kemmler. The first jolt of electricity was not enough to kill Kemmler, and only left him badly injured. The procedure had to be repeated and a reporter on hand described it as “an awful spectacle, far worse than hanging.” George Westinghouse commented: “They would have done better using an axe.”

 

TESLA: AN ANIMAL LOVER

Tesla then studied electrical engineering at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz (1875). While there, he studied the uses of alternating current. Some sources say he received Baccalaureate degrees from the university at Graz. However, the university claims that he did not receive a degree and did not continue beyond the first semester of his third year, during which he stopped attending lectures. In December 1878, he left Graz and broke all relations with his family. His friends thought that he had drowned in Mura. He went to Maribor, (today’s Slovenia), where he was first employed as an assistant engineer for a year. He suffered a nervous breakdown during this time.

Tesla was fluent in many languages. Along with Serbian, he spoke seven other languages: Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin.

Tesla engaged in reading many works, memorizing complete books, supposedly having a photographic memory.

Tesla related in his autobiography that he experienced detailed moments of inspiration. He suffered a peculiar affliction in which blinding flashes of light would appear before his eyes, often accompanied by hallucinations. Much of the time the visions were linked to a word or idea he might have come across; just by hearing the name of an item, he would involuntarily envision it in realistic detail. Modern-day synesthetes report similar symptoms. Tesla would visualise an invention in his brain with extreme precision, including all dimensions, before moving to the construction stage; a technique sometimes known as picture thinking. He typically did not make drawings by hand, instead just conceiving all ideas with his mind. Tesla also often had flashbacks to events that had happened previously in his life; this began to happen during childhood.

He did not like posing for portraits, doing so only once for princess Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy.

Tesla was obsessed with the number three; he often felt compelled to walk around a block three times before entering a building, demanded a stack of three folded cloth napkins beside his plate at every meal, etc.

He was also obsessed with pigeons, ordering special seeds for the pigeons he fed in Central Park and even bringing some into his hotel room with him. Tesla lived the last ten years of his life in a two-room suite on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker, room 3327. There, near the end of his life, Tesla claimed to be visited by a specific white pigeon daily. Several biographers note that Tesla viewed the death of the pigeon as a “final blow” to himself and his work. In his final years he suffered from extreme sensitivity to light, sound and other influences.

Tesla was an animal-lover, often reflecting contentedly about a childhood cat, “The Magnificent Mačak.”

Tesla never married. He was celibate and claimed that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities. Nonetheless there have been numerous accounts of women vying for Tesla’s affection, even some madly in love with him. Tesla, though polite, behaved rather ambivalently to these women in the romantic sense.

Tesla was prone to alienating himself and was generally soft-spoken. However, when he did engage in a social life, many people spoke very positively and admiringly of him. Robert Underwood Johnson described him as attaining a “distinguished sweetness, sincerity, modesty, refinement, generosity, and force.”His loyal secretary, Dorothy Skerrit, wrote: “his genial smile and nobility of bearing always denoted the gentlemanly characteristics that were so ingrained in his soul.” Tesla’s friend Hawthorne wrote that “seldom did one meet a scientist or engineer who was also a poet, a philosopher, an appreciator of fine music, a linguist, and a connoisseur of food and drink.”

Nevertheless, Tesla displayed the occasional cruel streak; he openly expressed his disgust for overweight people, once firing a secretary because of her weight. He was quick to criticize others’ clothing as well, on several occasions demanding a subordinate to go home and change her dress.

In middle age, Tesla became very close friend with Mark Twain. Some of Tesla’s closest friends were artists. He befriended Century Magazine editor Robert Underwood Johnson, who adapted several Serbian poems of Jovan Jovanović Zmaj (which Tesla translated).

Also during this time, Tesla was influenced by the Vedic philosophy teachings of the Swami Vivekananda; so much so, that after his exposure to Hindu-Vedic thought, Tesla started using Sanskrit words to name some of his fundamental concepts regarding matter and energy.

In his later years Tesla became a vegetarian. In an article for Century Illustrated Magazine he wrote: “It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarous habit.” Tesla argued that it is wrong to eat uneconomic meat when large numbers of people are starving; he also believed that plant food was “superior to [meat] in regard to both mechanical and mental performance”. He also argued that animal slaughter was “wanton and cruel”.

He ripped up a Westinghouse contract that would have made him the world’s first billionaire, in part because of the implications it would have on his future vision of free power, and in part because it would run Westinghouse out of business, and Tesla had no desire to deal with the creditors.

In 1934, Tesla wrote to consul Janković of his homeland, expressing gratitude to Mihajlo Pupin who had initiated a donation scheme by which American companies could support Tesla. Tesla refused the assistance, choosing instead to live on a modest pension received from Yugoslavia, and to continue his research.

Tesla obtained around 300 patents worldwide for his inventions. Some of his patents are not accounted for, and various sources have discovered some that have lain hidden in patent archives. There are a minimum of 278 patents issued to Dr. Tesla in 26 countries that have been accounted for. Many inventions developed by Dr. Tesla were not put into patent protection.

Tesla solved the problem of the “Egg of Columbus“, using the principles of the rotating magnetic field and induction motor: an egg made of copper stands.

When he was eighty-one, Tesla stated he had completed a “dynamic theory of gravity”. He stated that it was “worked out in all details” and that he hoped to soon give it to the world. The theory was never published.

He died poor.

 

WORDS FOR UNLIMITED LIFE 

Nikola Tesla reading Ruđer Bošković's book "Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis", in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer (at East Houston Street, New York).

Nikola Tesla, about life without limitations:

«My idea is that the development of life must lead to forms of existence that will be possible without nourishment and which will not be shackled by consequent limitations. Why should a living being not be able to obtain all the energy it needs for the performance of its life functions from the environment, instead of through consumption of food, and transforming, by a complicated process, the energy of chemical combinations into life-sustaining energy? (…) The changes I noted were taking place periodically, and with such a clear suggestion of number and order that they were not traceable to any cause then known to me. I was familiar, of course, with such electrical disturbances as are produced by the sun, Aurora Borealis and earth currents, and I was as sure as I could be of any fact that these variations were due to none of these causes. The nature of my experiments precluded the possibility of the changes being produced by atmospheric disturbances, as has been rashly asserted by some. It was some time afterward when the thought flashed upon my mind that the disturbances I had observed might be due to an intelligent control. Although I could not decipher their meaning, it was impossible for me to think of them as having been entirely accidental. The feeling is constantly growing on me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another.» – “Talking with the planets”, Collier’s Weekly, February 19, 1901.

«The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea.  (…) It is not true, as Descartes taught, that the brain is an accumulator. There is no permanent record in the brain, there is no stored knowledge. Knowledge is something akin to an echo that needs a disturbance to be called into being.» –  “How Cosmic Forces Shape Our Destinies”, 1915.

 “I’m equally proud of my Serbian origin and my Croatian homeland. Long live all Yugoslavs.” – Telegram to Vladko Maček, 1936.

«Though we may never be able to comprehend human life, we know certainly that it is a movement, of whatever nature it be.  The existence of movement unavoidably implies a body which is being moved and a force which is moving it.  Hence, wherever there is life, there is a mass moved by a force.  All mass possesses inertia, all force tends to persist.  Owing to this universal property and condition, a body, be it at rest or in motion, tends to remain in the same state, and a force, manifesting itself anywhere and through whatever cause, produces an equivalent opposing force, and as an absolute necessity of this it follows that every movement in nature must be rhythmical.  Long ago this simple truth was clearly pointed out by Herbert Spencer, who arrived at it through a somewhat different process of reasoning.  It is borne out in everything we perceive—in the movement of a planet, in the surging and ebbing of the tide, in the reverberations of the air, the swinging of a pendulum, the oscillations of an electric current, and in the infinitely varied phenomena of organic life.  Does not the whole of human life attest to it?  Birth, growth, old age, and death of an individual, family, race, or nation, what is it all but a rhythm?  All life-manifestation, then, even in its most intricate form, as exemplified in man, however involved and inscrutable, is only a movement, to which the same general laws of movement which govern throughout the physical universe must be applicable. (…) 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 problem of increasing human energy with special references to the harnessing of the sun’s energy”, Century Illustrated Magazine, June 1900.

«Our senses enable us to perceive only a minute portion of the outside world. Our hearing extends to a small distance. Our sight is impeded by intervening bodies and shadows. To know each other we must reach beyond the sphere of our sense perceptions. We must transmit our intelligence, travel, transport the materials and transfer the energies necessary for our existence. Following this thought we now realize, forcibly enough to dispense with argument, that of all other conquests of man, without exception, that which is most desirable, which would be most helpful in the establishment of universal peaceful relations is — the complete ANNIHILATION OF DISTANCE. To achieve this wonder, electricity is the one and only means. Inestimable good has already been done by the use of this all powerful agent, the nature of which is still a mystery» – “The Transmission of Electrical Energy without wires as a means for furthering Peace” in Electrical World and Engineer, 7 January 1905.

«According to an adopted theory, every ponderable atom is differentiated from a tenuous fluid, filling all space merely by spinning motion, as a whirl of water in a calm lake.  By being set in movement this fluid, the ether, becomes gross matter.  Its movement arrested, the primary substance reverts to its normal state.  It appears, then, possible for man through harnessed energy of the medium and suitable agencies for starting and stopping ether whirls to cause matter to form and disappear.  At his command, almost without effort on his part, old worlds would vanish and new ones would spring into being.  He could alter the size of this planet, control its seasons, adjust its distance from the sun, guide it on its eternal journey along any path he might choose, through the depths of the universe.  He could make planets collide and produce his suns and stars, his heat and light; he could originate life in all its infinite forms.  To cause at will the birth and death of matter would be man’s grandest deed, which would give him the mastery of physical creation, make him fulfill his ultimate destiny» – Mr. Tesla’s Vision“, New York Times, April 21, 1908.

About invention and inventors:

«There is something frightening about the universe when we consider that only our senses of sound and sight make it beautiful. (…) Just think, the universe is darker than the darkest ink; colder than the coldest ice and more silent than a silent tomb with all the bodies rushing through it at terrific speeds. What an awe-inspiring picture, isn’t it? Yet it is our brain that gives merely a physical impression. Sight and sound are the only avenues through which we can perceive it all. Often I have wondered if there is a third sense which we have failed to discover. I’m afraid not (…). It is providential that the youth or man of inventive mind is not ‘blessed’ with a million dollars (…). He would find it difficult to think. The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born. That is why many of the earthly miracles have had their genesis in humble surroundings» – “Tesla sees evidence radio and light are sound”, New York Times, April 8, 1934, Section X, p. 9.

«The scientists from Franklin to Morse were clear thinkers and did not produce erroneous theories. The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane. Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. » Radio Power Will Revolutionize the World” in Modern Mechanics and Inventions, July 1934.

«I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success… Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything».

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

«Mr. Marconi is a donkey».

«If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor».

  

About women:

“The acquisition of new fields of endeavor by women, their gradual usurpation of leadership, will dull and finally dissipate feminine sensibilities, will choke the maternal instinct, so that marriage and motherhood may become abhorrent and human civilization draw closer and closer to the perfect civilization of the bee” – When woman is boss – An interview with Nikola Tesla”, Colliers, 30 January 1926.

About the spiral coil of high-frequency transformer (at East Houston Street, New York):

“ There is no thing endowed with life—from man, who is enslaving the elements, to the nimblest creature—in all this world that does not sway in its turn. Whenever action is born from force, though it be infinitesimal, the cosmic balance is upset and the universal motion results. ” – 1925.

«”Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe. This idea is not novel… We find it in the delightful myth of Antheus, who derives power from the earth; we find it among the subtle speculations of one of your splendid mathematicians… Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic? If static our hopes are in vain; if kinetic – and this we know it is, for certain – then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature.” — “Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency”, February 1892. 

  

About the Flying Machine:

«I have accomplished what mechanical engineers have been dreaming about ever since the invention of steam power (…). That is the perfect rotary engine. (…) In doing this I have made use of two properties which have always been known to be possessed by all fluids, but which have not heretofore been utilized. These properties are adhesion and viscosity. (…) All fluids have these qualities—and you must keep in mind that air is a fluid, all gases are fluids, steam is fluid.  Every known means of transmitting or developing mechanical power is through a fluid medium. (…) All one needs is some disks mounted on a shaft, spaced a little distance apart and cased so that a fluid can enter at one point and go out at another.  If the fluid enters at the centre and goes out at the periphery it is a pump.  If it enters at the periphery and goes out at the center it is a motor. (…) Now you have struck the point in which I am most deeply interested—the object toward which I have been devoting my energies for more than twenty years—the dream of my life. It was in seeking the means of making the perfect flying machine that I developed this engine. (…) What I was working on twenty years ago was the wireless transmission of electric power. My idea was a flying machine propelled by an electric motor, with power supplied from stations on the earth. I have not accomplished this as yet, but am confident that I will in time. When I found that I had been anticipated as to the flying machine, by men working in a different field, I began to study the problem from other angles, to regard it as a mechanical rather than an electrical problem. I felt certain there must be some means of obtaining power that was better than any now in use. And by vigorous use of my gray matter for a number of years, I grasped the possibilities of the principle of the viscosity and adhesion of fluids and conceived the mechanism of my engine. Now that I have it, my next step will be the perfect flying machine. (…) The flying machine of the future—my flying machine—will be heavier than air, but it will not be an aeroplane. It will have no wings. It will be substantial, solid, stable. You cannot have a stable airplane. The gyroscope can never be successfully applied to the airplane, for it would give a stability that would result in the machine being torn to pieces by the wind, just as the unprotected aeroplane on the ground is torn to pieces by a high wind. My flying machine will have neither wings nor propellers. You might see it on the ground and you would never guess that it was a flying machine. Yet it will be able to move at will through the air in any direction with perfect safety, higher speeds than have yet been reached, regardless of weather and oblivious of “holes in the air” or downward currents. It will ascend in such currents if desired. It can remain absolutely stationary in the air, even in a wind, for great length of time. Its lifting power will not depend upon any such delicate devices as the bird has to employ, but upon positive mechanical action. (…) Through gyroscopic action of my engine, assisted by some devices I am not yet prepared to talk about (…). It is the child of my dreams, the product of years of intense and painful toil and research. I am not going to talk about it any further. But whatever my airship may be, here at least is an engine that will do things that no other engine ever has done, and that is something tangible». – Nikola Tesla, “Tesla’s New Monarch of Machines“, New York Herald Tribune, October 15, 1911.

A poem by Tesla:

 While listening on my cosmic phone
I caught words from the Olympus blown.
A newcomer was shown around;
That much I could guess, aided by sound.
“There’s Archimedes with his lever
Still busy on problems as ever.
Says: matter and force are transmutable
And wrong the laws you thought immutable. (…)”

– “Fragments of Olympian Gossip“, November 4, 1934.

 

About Einstein’s relativity:

«I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.» – New York Herald Tribune, 11 September 1932.

«The scientists of today have substituted mathematics for experiments and they wander off through equation after equation and eventually build a mathematical structure which has no relation to reality. They are metaphysicians rather than scientists.» – “Dr. Tesla, at 77, seldom sleeps”, New York Times, 11 July 1933, p. 23.

«…[a] magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king … its exponents are brilliant men but they are metaphysicists rather than scientists…» – “Tesla, 79, promises to transmit force – WOULD EVEN GUIDE SHIPS”, New York Times, 11 July 1935, p. 23.

«…the relativity theory, by the way, is much older than its present proponents. It was advanced over 200 years ago by my illustrious countryman Ruđer Bošković, the great philosopher, who, not withstanding other and multifold obligations, wrote a thousand volumes of excellent literature on a vast variety of subjects. Bošković dealt with relativity, including the so-called time-space continuum …» – 1936 unpublished interview, quoted in L. Anderson, Nikola Tesla: Lecture Before the New York Academy of Sciences. April 6, 1897, “The Streams of Lenard and Roentgen and Novel Apparatus for Their Production, reconstructed 1994”.

«… I was fortunate enough to make two far-reaching discoveries. The first was a dynamic theory of gravity, which I have worked out in all details and hope to give to the world very soon. It explains the causes of this force and the motions of heavenly bodies under its influence so satisfactorily that it will put an end to idle speculations and false conceptions, as that of curved space. According to the relativists, space has a tendency to curvature owing to an inherent property or presence of celestial bodies. Granting a semblance of reality to this fantastic idea, it is still self-contradictory. Every action is accompanied by an equivalent reaction and the effects of the latter are directly opposite to those of the former. Supposing that the bodies act upon the surrounding space causing curvature of the same, it appears to my simple mind that the curved spaces must react on the bodies and, producing the opposite effects, straighten out the curves. Since action and reaction are coexistent, it follows that the supposed curvature of space is entirely impossible. But even if it existed it would not explain the motions of the bodies as observed. Only the existence of a field of force can account for them and its assumption dispenses with space curvature. All literature on this subject is futile and destined to oblivion. (…) My second discovery was a physical truth of the greatest importance. As I have searched the scientific records in more than half dozen languages for a long time without finding the least anticipation, I consider myself the original discoverer of this truth, which can be expressed by the statement: There is no energy in matter other than that received from the environment. On my 79th birthday I made a brief reference to it, but its meaning and significance have become clearer to me since then. It applies rigorously to molecules and atoms as well as the largest heavenly bodies, and to all matter in the universe in any phase of its existence from its very formation to its ultimate disintegration. Being perfectly satisfied that all energy in matter is drawn from the environment, it was quite natural that when radioactivity was discovered in 1896 I immediately started a search for the external agent which caused it. (…) The kinetic and potential energy of a body is the result of motion and determined by the product of its mass and the square of velocity. Let the mass be reduced, the energy is diminished in the same proportion. If it be reduced to zero the energy is likewise zero for any finite velocity. In other words, it is absolutely impossible to convert mass into energy. It would be different if there were forces in nature capable of imparting to a mass infinite velocity. Then the product of zero mass with the square of infinite velocity would represent infinite energy. But we know that there are no such forces and the idea that mass is convertible into energy is rank nonsense» – Lecture prepared by Nikola Tesla for delivery before the Institute of Immigrant Welfare, July 10, 1937.

 

About “tele-force” (press called it “death-beam”):

«In the system there are no electrons.  Energy goes into the same direction without any distribution [dissipation] and the same on all sides of distance.  It contains neutrons. (…) Particles are practical with neutrons, because, they are 3,723 times lighter than electricity or electrons that cannot penetrate space for great distances.» – Letter to Sava Kosanovic, March 1941. 

«This “death-beam,” Dr. Tesla said, will operate silently but effectively at distances ”as far as a telescope could see an object on the ground and as far as the curvature of the earth would permit it.”» – “Tesla, at 78, bares new ‘Death-Beam'”, New York Times, July 11, 1934.

 

About religion and death:

«On this occasion, you might want me to say something of a personal and more intimate character bearing on my work. One of the speakers suggested: “Tell us something about yourself, about your early struggles.” If I am not mistaken in this surmise I will, with your approval, dwell briefly on this rather delicate subject. I may say, also, that I am deeply religious at heart, although not in the Orthodox meaning, and that I give myself to the constant enjoyment of belleving that the greatest mysteries of our being are still to be fathomed and that all the evidence of the senses and the teachings of exact and dry sciences to the contrary notwithstanding, death itself may not be the termination of the wonderful metamorphoses we witness. In this way I have managed to maintain an undisturbed peace of mind, to make myself proof against adversity, and to achieve contentment and happiness to a point of extracting some satisfaction even from the darker side of life, the trials and tribulations of existence. I have fame and untold wealth, more than all this, and yet – how many articles have been written in which I was declared to be an impractical unsuccesful man, and how many poor, struggling writers, have called me a visionary. Such is the folly and shortsightedness of the world!» – SPEECH ON BEHALF EDISON MEDAL PRIZE (delivered before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers), May 18, 1917.

More: here.

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