Nikola Tesla was not just an unparalled scientific genius, but possessed extraordinary capacities and capabilities that paint him as the prototype of future man. This article is an adaptation of a paper written by R Chandrasekhar of the University of Western Australia
“Were we to seize and eliminate from our industrial world the results of Mr. Tesla’s work, the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our electric cars and trains would stop, our towns would be dark, our mills would be dead and idle. Yes, so far reaching is his work that it has become the warp and woof of industry. The name of Tesla …marks an epoch in the advance of electrical science. From that work has sprung a revolution,”
-B. A. Behrend,engineer and colleague of Tesla.
The world today is rediscovering Nikola Tesla, one of the most prolific scientific inventors of our time. Like Leonardo Da Vinci, Tesla, with his highly developed inner and higher senses, was truly ahead of his time. His mission in life, as a scientist of the highest order, was to open a new cosmic window, advancing our sciences into futuristic new dimensions. Tesla’s energy science was to introduce technologies that worked in harmony with nature, without harming the environment. Unfortunately, like many visionaries, Tesla died impoverished and unsung, even as many won Nobel prizes on discoveries that he had contributed largely to.
Tesla invented and created the polyphase alternating current energy transmission, the system of motors and generators that powers the world. He also invented apparatus for radio transmission based on the use of resonance and a kind of spread-technique. Among the more than 700 of Tesla’s other inventions/patents are the rotating magnetic field principle, induction motor, wireless communication, fluorescent lights, and use of high frequency (h.f.) currents in medicine and remote control. He also invented the radio (not Marconi).
But Tesla is extraordinary for more than just his scientific genius. He possessed some truly marvellous capacities and capabilities that in some areas are unmatched in the history of mankind. And the question that springs before us is, could he be what the rest of us are evolving into? Could Tesla be an early harbinger of future man?
In many ways, Tesla was different. He had an extremely acute sense of hearing and sight; a
visualisation so vivid as to mimic reality; some eccentricities of habit and behaviour; and the capacity to dream of inventions that were inconceivable in his time. He also was given to visions, flashes of light and other phenomena which today would have marked him as a psychic of rare proportions. For instance, at the time of his mother’s death he had the following vision:
“During the whole night every fibre in my brain was strained in expectancy, but nothing happened until early in the morning, when I fell in a sleep, or perhaps a swoon, and saw a cloud carrying angelic figures of marvellous beauty, one of whom gazed upon me lovingly, and gradually assumed the features of my mother.
“The appearance slowly floated across the room and vanished, and I was awakened by an indescribably sweet song of many voices. In that instant a certitude, which no words can express, came upon me that my mother had just died. And that was true.”
Tesla’s hearing was unusually sharp. At the age of 25, he suffered what was termed by his doctors a “nervous breakdown” for want of a better term. While he was ill, Tesla’s pulse varied from a few beats to 260 beats per minute, and all the tissues of his body quivered and twitched. During the period he was ill, Tesla had the following extraordinary aural experiences:
1. He could hear the sound of a watch ticking three rooms away;
2. A fly landing on a table in his room caused a dull thud in his ear;
3. A carriage passing several kilometres distant caused his whole body to shake;
4. He could not endure the vibration in his chair caused by a train whistle 32 kilometres away;
5. Rubber cushions had to be placed under his bed so that he could rest undisturbed by the vibrations of sounds around him; and
6. In the dark, like a bat, he could sense an object at a distance of about four metres by a peculiar creepy sensation on the forehead.
Even when Tesla was past 40, and conducting research into lightning in the Colorado mountains, in the USA, he could hear thunderclaps 880 kilometres away, whereas his assistants, at half his age, could only hear them up to 240 kilometres away.
Of visions and lights
Even more amazing was his envisioning capacity. He says, “In my boyhood I suffered from a peculiar affliction due to the appearance of images, often accompanied by strong flashes of light, which marred the sight of real objects and interfered with my thought and action. They were pictures of things and scenes which I had really seen, never of those I imagined. When a word was spoken to me the image of the object it designated would present itself vividly to my vision and sometimes I was quite unable to distinguish whether what I saw was tangible or not. This caused me great discomfort and anxiety…
“Then I instinctively commenced to make excursions beyond the limits of the small world of which I had knowledge, and I saw new scenes. These were at first very blurred and indistinct, and would flit away when I tried to concentrate my attention upon them, but by and by I succeeded in fixing them; they gained in strength and distinctness and finally assumed the concreteness of real things. I soon discovered that my best comfort was attained if I simply went on in my vision farther and farther, getting new impressions all the time, and so I began to travel –of course, in my mind. Every night (and sometimes during the day), when alone, I would start on my journeys – see new places, cities and countries – live there, meet people, and make friendships and acquaintances and, however unbelievable, it is a fact that they were just as clear to me as those in actual life and not a bit less intense in their manifestations.”
This capacity to see in his mind’s eye what is not actually present in the real world, is best illustrated in his discovery of the AC motor.
In 1875, at the age of 19, Tesla enrolled at the Polytechnic Institute at Graz in Austria to study electrical engineering. In his second year there, his professor demonstrated a direct current (DC) motor for the first time. Tesla was impressed but objected to the sparking that he saw taking place at the commutator. His professor replied that the sparking was inevitable, being inherent in the design of the machine. Tesla was unconvinced, and felt that there must be some way to circumvent the use of commutators, even though his professor did not agree with him. Here is how he put it: “When I undertook the task it was not with a resolve such as men often make. With me it was a sacred vow, a question of life and death. I knew that I would perish if I failed. Now I felt that the battle was won. Back in the deep recesses of the brain was the solution, but I could not yet give it outward.”
After six years of intensive thought, Tesla did finally get the revelation that revolutionised our world: the AC induction motor and, concomitantly, the AC generator. It occurred in Budapest during a walk in the late afternoon that he took with a friend in February 1882. The full flavour of the revelation that dawned on him is best conveyed by his own words:
“One afternoon, which is ever present in my recollection, I was enjoying a walk with my friend in the City Park and reciting poetry. At that age I knew entire books by heart, word for word. One of these was Goethe’s Faust. The sun was just setting and reminded me of the glorious passage:
The glow retreats, done is the day of toil;
It yonder hastes, new fields of life exploring;
Ah, that no wing can lift me from the soil
Upon its track to follow, follow soaring!
“As I uttered these inspiring words the idea came like a flash of lightning, and in an instant the truth was revealed. I drew with a stick on the sand the diagrams shown six years later in my address before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and my companion understood them perfectly. The images I saw were wonderfully sharp and clear and had the solidity of metal and stone, so much so that I told him: “See my motor here; watch me reverse it.” I cannot begin to describe my emotions. Pygmalion seeing his statue come to life could not have been more deeply moved. A thousand secrets of nature which I might have stumbled upon accidentally, I would have given for that one which I had wrested from her against all odds and at the peril of my existence.”
Tesla used his unique powers of visualization to conduct his experiments in the most amazing manner.
“I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements, and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in thought or test it in my shop. I even note if it is out of balance. There is no difference whatever, the results are the same. In this way I am able to rapidly develop and perfect a conception without touching anything. When I have gone so far as to embody in the invention every possible improvement I can think of and see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form this final product of my brain. Invariably my device works as I conceived that it should, and the experiment comes out exactly as I planned it. In 20 years there has not been a single exception. Why should it be otherwise? Engineering, electrical and mechanical, is positive in results. There is scarcely a subject that cannot be mathematically treated and the effects calculated or the results determined beforehand from the available theoretical and practical data. The carrying out into practice of a crude idea as is being generally done is, I hold, nothing but a waste of energy, money and time.”
Thus, Tesla produced his inventions without drawings or blueprints. Instead, he conducted all the preliminary work for the machines he built entirely in his mind. It is only after he had satisfactorily concluded those mental experiments that he proceeded with physical fabrication of the devices.
It is a curious fact that once Tesla started an experiment, say switching on a motor and keeping it running for several days, he could devote his mind to other tasks while the running motor experiment carried along on its own, without conscious intervention from him, until he decided to switch the motor off and examine the wear and tear.
Here are some more characteristics that make Tesla seem more superhuman than human:
1. During his first year at the Polytechnic at Graz, he “regularly started [his] work at three o’clock
in the morning and continued until 11 at night, no Sundays or holidays excepted”.
2. Tesla excelled at languages and knew English, French, German, Italian and the Slavic dialects.
3. He had a prodigious memory and could store entire logarithmic tables in his mind.
4. At the age of 59, when he slipped on icy ground, he righted himself like a cat while in the air and landed on his feet.
5. At 63, his body shape and weight had remained unchanged for 35 years.
6. He was attracted to gambling but gave it up when admonished by his parents. He not only “conquered [his] passion then and there … [but also] …tore it from [his] heart so as not to leave even a trace of desire”.
7. He took up smoking, but on realising that it would ruin his health, he gave it up permanently.
8. When Tesla discovered that the innocent cup of coffee he consumed every morning could precipitate heart trouble, he discontinued it by strenuous will.
He saw his conquest of bad habits in a different light from most people. He said:
“In this way I checked and bridled other habits and passions and have not only preserved my life but derived an immense amount of satisfaction from what most men would consider privation and sacrifice.”
Although Tesla did not accept his many gifts as spiritual, he had a strange experience with a pigeon. He was tremendously fond of pigeons and used to feed and look after them. There was one particular pigeon who he said he loved just exactly as if she were a woman.
He recalled that one night, as he was lying on his bed in the dark, this pigeon flew in through the open window, as if to deliver a message. He looked at her and realised that she had come to tell him she was dying. As he looked at her, Tesla said, “there came a light from her eyes – two powerful beams of light”. He reaffirmed, “Yes, it was a real light, a powerful, dazzling, blinding light, a light more intense than I had ever produced by the most powerful lamps in my laboratory”. When that pigeon died, Tesla “knew” that his life’s work was finished.
Tesla was also a man of high integrity and moral ethics. A humanist he desired to use his mind for the freedom of all mankind from the thralldom of matter using his magical inventions. He also was not money minded, which perhaps explains why others made millions on his inventions while he himself died virtually penniless.
Was Tesla a man from our future who had torn the veil of time to visit us and give us a glimpse of the future capabilities of humankind?
Only time will tell.
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