My Inventions Part Two - My First Efforts In Inventions 2

Date: 
Saturday, March 1, 1919
Volume: 
22
Pages: 
776-843
Archived Page: 
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776 March, l9l9 5 Q lg 'i ; F ° Q tlljy llritvrention 5- % By Nikola Tesla 'l . . -w 11 ~17"\wr|' i 55 2. ]Ml‘tt" ll;3lli_ll?.§>'l lbd“d'©RTS IN HNVENTHUN ?' ~`FW1P7ii‘lf7§1PWl7§Ylf'3i1fWT1fW1T'_` '51 " " ‘ " 1 Y \'l ‘<1 \1 SHALL dwell brielly on these extraordinary experiences, on account of their possible interest to students of psychology and physiology and also because this period of agony was of the greatest consequence on my mental development and subsequent labors. But it is indispensable to tirst relate the circumstances and conditions which preceded them and in which might he found their partial explanation. From childhood I was compelled to con- centrate attention upon myself. This caused me much suffering hut, to my present view, it was a blessing in dis- guise for it has taught me to appreciate the inestimable value of in- trospection in the pre- servation of life. as well as n means of achievement. The pressure of occupation and the incessant stream of impressions pouring into our consciousness thru all the gateways of lcnowledgc make modern existence hazardous in many ways. I\lost persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are \vholly oblivious to what is passing on within tht-inselvcs. The premature death of millions is primarily traceable to this cause. Even among those who exercise care it is a common mistake to avoid imaginary, and ignore the real dangers. /\nd ing as well as vivid colors. ment. what is true of an iiulivitltial also applies, more or less, to a people as a whole. \\/itness, in illustration, the prohibition |no\'einent_ OYS will be boys, the world over. The Boy Tesla was no e:rception to the universal rnlc, as this, his second auto- Iningralrliiral arlir'/1' rlvarly prmfus. Mr. Tesla in his own iuimilalzlv, da-lightful way, hcrc _paints with a literary arlisfs brush his own intimate boyhood in charm- We /lava often hoard of Tesla, the dreamer. But if he Lt entitled tu the epithet, his early boyhood certainly fails to reveal it. Tesla did not allow much grass tn grow under his feet while a boy, for he assuredly was a strenuous, red-blooded youngster. Yun will wish rn rf-ad all about the greatest iuv1:ntor's early lmylmml. lr is alnnlnly rwlluuhlr' Iwrarlxv il vrurlvs from his own pen. We promise yon an irtlvreslilig nut-nly-minutes’ entertain- Similar observations might probably he made in cities where the consumption of tea is excessive, These delicious beverages super- excite and gradually exhaust the hne tihers of the brain. They also interelere seriously with arterial circulation and should be enjoyed all the more sparingly as their deleterious effects are slow and imperceptible. Tobaccofon the other hand, is conducive to easy and pleasant thinking and detracts from the intensity and concen- tration necessary to all original and vigorous ellurt of the intellect. Cliewing gum is help- tul for a short while hut soon d rains the glandular system and in fic t s irreparable damage, not to speak ofthe revulsion it creates. Alcohol in small quantities is an excellent tonic, but is toxic in its action \vheu absorbed in larger amounts, quite immate- rial as to whether it is taken in as whiskey or produced in tl\c stomach from sugar. But it should not be overlooked that all these are great elitninators assisting Nature,as they do, in upholding her stern but just la\v of the survival of the httest. Eager reform- ers should also be mindful of the eternal perversity of mankind which makes the intlitforent "lai,r_reL'-faire” by far preferable to enforced restraint. The truth about this is that we need stimu- lants to do our best work under present living conditions, and that we must exercise moderation and control our appetites and inclinations in every direction. That is what I have been doing -EDI TOR. A drastic, if not unconstitutional. measure is now being put thru in this country tn prevent the erm- for many years, in this way maintain- sumption oI alcohol ill ' 2.~j' ing myself young in and yet it is a posi- 9 _. ~ _ , _' body and mind. Ab- tive fact that collec, _ t; _ t ~ _ stinence was not al- tea, tobacco, chew- ,__ §_I» , ways to my liking ing gum a|\d other 1 f»" __ .f,_ ‘ it i _ but I find ample stimulants, wh ich _ ,A,~ _i,'°~_i_ _ - _i_i_- _ _ __ rivyard in the agree; are freely indulged " _;i‘/»T¢3'.'3 ig'-_ ,;~`t T_\;;"`-"ggi, Q’ Kill/ a e experiences in even at the ; ' _ if $.,__ ` l_il ’- `(' t am now makin g. tender age, are vast- _ ` »__ L- ,,,._ _. , `, " ` _-»_ _ ,_ p ,IM 7’t _ -t I iQ , .lust in the hope of ly more injurious to f_;'- ` -_“ - .' <_ _ 'T " 'fe;|;j:-#24, ;" ‘?‘h‘-L z, if lr* _ converting some to the national body, __.; ‘ i _ 'e-_ ¢;"_.°73? _ ` . my precept; an_~¥._- .,,;, fr. ' ` _ », _ convictions wi iiugnbger of those 1' ,Q ‘ “ ` 'yfu . ai , i. ,z I recall °"¢ °f fW°- who succumb. So, if i lA'<` -;;;_ §f,§ ‘gl QQ. »-g ` ' A short time ago for instance, dur- "-,Ll .22 _, ..-~_, i __ 7/` 3* T "Q I was returning to ing my student _ . gif; - _` ,' _ `-f`3' >,_ _f.:_ "Qu 5. _; my hotel. It was a ye a r s_ I gaahegeg _ . __. _ _' ___.,‘ }t,;Q- 1 :J l _ _ latter co; d_ night, rom tie pub is e §» T » ‘-,Jw ; .;:"_,.¢,;:. ,, ii., `X_. , . A T' ' t e groun s ippery, nccrologues in ‘ é ' ta _ and no Qaxi to be Vie|\na, the home of ‘_~_`__;. ' " . . “___ _ had. Half a block coffee drinkers, that " , _§i:"""l._ l Al-vu '-'-,_“ I “ T” 'i*i"fJ}!f~lf, ~_ ', f\ » . f Q behind me followed deaths from heart trouble sometimes l't~:u'lieil .vi.|'l_v-.n'1u'/A per :mil of the total. Thls Photograph Shows In the Background the House In Whlch Mr. Tes|a’| Famlly Reslded. The Edlllce at the Right Is the "Real Gymnasium" Where He Studied. The Eccleslastlc Gnntlemnu In ltln Uurzln, the Mntropnlltnn ol Donnln, who Wnl n Brut Slntumnn and Who Thwarted the Designs of Austria Upon Sarbla at a Crltlcal Parlod. another man, evi- dently as anxious as myself to get titular (Cont. an [vaglv 839)

ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER :lurk nuvl I was cnnlitlcnt that I cuulrl per- lurin the feat. /\<‘cnrdiugIy I plunged into thc water and, when out of vie\v, turned around and proceeded rapidly towards the opposite side. Thinking that I was safely beyond the structure, I rose to the surface but to my dismay struck a beam. Of course, I quickly dived and forged ahead with rapid strokes until my breath was beginning to give out. Rising for the second time, my head came again in contact with a beam. Now I was becoming desperate. However summoning all my energy, I made | third frantic attempt but the result was the same. The torture of supprest breathing was get- ting unendurable, my brain was reeling and I felt myself sinking. At that moment, when my situation seemed absolutely hopeless, I experienced one of those flashes of light and the structure above me appeared before my vision. I either discerned or guest that there was a little space between the surface of the water and the boards resting on the bcams and, with consciousness nearly gone, I floated up, prest my mouth close to the planks and managed to inhale a little air, unfortunately mingled with a spray of water which nearly choked me. Several times I rcreated this procedure as in a dream unti my heart, which was racing at a terrible rate, quieted down and I gained composure. Alter that I made a number of unsuccessful dives, having completely lost the sense of direction, but finally suc- ceeded in getting out of the trap when my friends had already given me up and were fishing for my body. That bathing season was spoiled for me thru recklessness but I soon forgot the lesson and only two years later I fell into a worse predicament. There was a large ilour mill with a dam across the river near the city where I was studying at that time. As a rule the height of the water was only two or three inches above the dam and to swim out to it was a sport not very dan- gerous in which I often indulged. One day I went alone to the river to enjoy myself as usual. When I was a short distance from the masonry, however, I was horrified to observe that the water had risen and was carrying me along s\viftly. I tried to get away but it was too late. Luckily, tho, I saved myself from being swept over by taking hold of the wall with both hands. The pressure against my chest was great and l was barely able to keep my ead above thc surface. Not a soul was in sight and in voice was lost in the roar of the fall. glowly and gradually I became ex- hausted and unable to withstand the strain Inutirr. just ns I wus about to let n, to he dashed against the rocks helow,I saw in a flash of light a. familiar diagram illus- trating the hydraulic principle that the pres- sure of a lluid in motion is proportionate to tl\e area exposed, and automatically I turned on my left side. As if by magic the pressure was reduced and I ound it comparativel easy in that position to resist the force ofy the stream. But the danger still confronted me. I knew that sooner or later I would be carried down, as it was not possible for any help to reach me in time, even if I attracted attention. I am ambidextrous now but then was left- handed and had comparatively little strength in my right arm. For this reason I dtd not dare to turn on the other side to rest and nothing remained but to slowly push my body along the dam. I had to get away from the mill towards which my face was turned as the current there was much swifter and deeper. It was a long and pain- ful ordeal and I came near to failing at its very end for I was confronted with a depression in tl\e masonry. I managed to get over with the last ounce of my force and fell in a swoon when I reached the »oank, where I was found. I had tom virtually all the skin from my left side and it tnnk several weeks before the fever sub- sided :uid I wus well. These are only two March, I9 I 9

March, I9 I 9 of many instances but they may be suilicient to show that had it not been for the in- ventor’s instinct I would not have lived to tell this tale. Interested peolple have often asked me how and when began to invent. This I can only answer from my present recollec- tion in the light of which the first attempt I recall was rather ambitious for it involved the invention of an apparatus and a method. In the former I was anticipated but the latter was original. It happened in this way. One of my playmates had come into the possession of a hook and fishing-tackle which created quite an excitement in the village, and the next morning all started out to catch frogs. I was left alone and deserted owing to a quarrel with this boy. I had never sccn'a real hook and pictured it as something wonderful, endowed with peculiar qualities, and was despairing not to be one of the party. Urged by necessity, I somehow got hold of a piece of soft iron wire, hammered the end to a sharp point between two stones, bent it into shape, and fastened it to a strong string. I then cut a rod, gathered some bait, an went down to the brook where there were frogs in abun- dance. llut I could not catch any and was almost discouraged when it occurred to me to dangle the empty hook in front of a frog sitting on a stump. At first he col- lapsed but by and by his eyes bulged out and became bloodshot, he swelled to twice his normal size and made a vicious snap at the hook. Immediately I pulled him up. I tried the same thing again and again and the method proved infallible. When my comrades, who in spite of their fine outtit had caught nothing, came to me they were green with envy. . For a long time I kept my secret and enjoyed the monopoly but tiually yielded to the spirit of Christ- mas. Every boy could then do the same and the following summer brought disaster to the frogs. In my next attempt I seem to have acted under the tirst instinctive impulse which later dominated me-to harness the eu- ergies of nature to the service of man. I did this thru the medium of Mny-bugs- or June-bugs as they are called in America -which were a veritable pest in that coun- try and sometimes broke the branches_of trees by the sheer weight of their bodies. The bushes were black with them. I would attach as many as four of them to a cross- piece, rotably arranged on a thin spindle, and transmit the motion of the same to a large disc and so derive considerable “pow- er.' These creatures were remarkably elihcient, for once they were started they had no sense to stop and continued whirling for hours and hours and the hotter it was the harder they worked. All went well until a strange boy came to the place. I-le was the son of a retired ofhcer in the _Austrian Army. That urchin ate May-bugs alive and enjoyed them as tho the; were the Finest blue-point oysters. That isgust- ing sight terminated my endeavors in this promising Field and I have never since been able to touch a May-bug or any other in- sect for that matter. After that, I believe, I undertook to take apart and assemble the clocks of my grand- father. ln the former operation I was al- ways successful but often failed in the latter. So it came that he brought my work to a sudden halt in a manner not too deli- cate and it took thirty years before I tackled another clockwork again. Shortly thereafter I went into the manufacture of a kind of pop-gun which comprised A hol~ low tube, a piston, and two_plugs of hemp. When Firing the gun, thedpiston was prest against the stomach _an the tu-I1 was pushed back quickly with both hands. The air between the plugs was comprest and raised to high temperature and one of them was expelled with a loud report. _The art consisted in selecting a tube of the proper taper from the hollow stalks which were (Czmtinucd on page 848) __ii ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER

March. l 9 l 9 ELECTRICAL 'EXPERIMENTER MY INVENTIONS. (Canlinued from page 776) cover. Suddenly my legs went up in the air. In the same instant there was a flash in my brain, the nerves responded, the mus- cles contracted, I swung thru 180 degrees and landed on my hands. I resumed my walk as tho nothing had happened when the stranger caught up with me. “How old are you?" he asked, surveying me criti- cally. "Oh, about fifty-nine," I replied. "What of it?" "Well," said he, “I have seen a cat do this but ncvcr a man." About a month since I wanted to order new eye- glasses and went to an oculist who put me thru the usual tests. He lookt at me in- creduously as I read off with ease the smallest print at considerable distance. But when I told him that I was past. sixty he gasped in astonishment. Friends of mine often remark that my suits fit me like gloves but they do not know that all my clothing is made to measurements which were taken nearly 35 years ago and never changed. During this same period my weight has not varied one po\n\d. In this connection I may tell a funny story. One evening, in the winter of 1885, Mr, Edison, Edward H. Johnson, the Presi- dent of the Edison Illuminating Cmnpuiiy, Mr. Batchcllor, Manager of the works, and myself entered a little place opposite 65 Fifth Avenue where the offices of the company were located. Someone suggested guessing weights and I was induced to step on a scale. Edison felt me all over and said: “Tesla weighs 152 lbs. to an ounce," and he guest it exactly. Stript I weighed 142 lbs. and that is still my weight. I whispered to Mr. johnson: “llow is it possible that Edison could guess my weight so closely?" "Well," he said, lowering his voice, “I will tell you, confidentially, but you must not say anything. He was em- ployed for a long time in a Chicago slaugh- ter-house where he weighed thousands of hogs every dayl 'I`hat's why." My friend, the Hon. Chauncey M, Depew, tells of an Englishman on whom he sprung one of his original anecdotes and who listened with a puzzled expression but-a year later- laughed out loud. 1 will frankly confess it took me longer than that to appreciate ]ohnson's joke. Now, my well being is simply the result of a careful and measured mode of living and perhaps the most astonishing thing is that three times in my youth I was rendered by illness a hopeless physical wreck and given \\p by physicians. More than this, thru igliorauiee and li|.;||tlie:u'tedi\ess, I got into all sorts of difficulties, dangers and scrapes from \vhich I extricated myself as by enchantment. I was almost drowned a dozen times; was nearly boiled alive and just mist being cremated. I was entombed, lost and frozen. I had hair-breadth es- capes from mad dogs, hogs, and other wild animals. I past thr\\ dreadful diseases and met with all kinds of odd mishaps and that I am hale and hearty today seems like a miracle. But as I recall these incidents to my mind I feel convinced that my preser- vation was not altogether accidental. An inventor’s endeavor is essentially life- saving. Whether he harnesses forces, im- proves devices, or provides new comforts and conveniences, he is adding to the safety of our existence. He is also better qualified than the average individual to protect him- self in peril, for he is observant and re- sourceful, If I had no other evidence that I' was, in a. measure, possest of such qual- ities I would find it in these personal ex- periences. The reader will be able to judge for himself if I mention one or two in~ stances. On one occasion, when about 14 years old, I wanted to scare some frier "‘ who were bathing with me. My plan was to dive under a long floating structure and slip` out rpiietly nt the other end. Swinnning und riving eanne tn me ns imttirnlly as tn at

March. l 9 I 9 MY INVENTIONS (Continued from page 841) did very well with that gun but my activities interfered with the window panes in our house and met with painful discourage- ment. If I remember rightly, I_ then took to carving swords from pieces of furniture which I could conveniently obtain. At that time I was under the sway of the Serbian national poetry and full of admira- tion for the feats of the heroes. I used to spend hours in mowing down my enemies in the form of corn-stalks which ruined the crops and netted me several spankings from my mother. Moreover these were not of the formal kind but the genuine article. I had all this and more behind me before I was six years old and had past thru one year of elementary school in the village of Smiljan where I was born. At this junc- ture we moved to the little city of Gospic nearby. This change of residence was like a calamity to me. It almost broke iny heart to part from our pigeons, chickens and sheep, and our magnificent flock of geese which used to rise to the clouds in the morning and return from the feeding grounds at sundown in lmttlc formation, so perfect that it would have put a squadron of the best aviators of the present day to shame. In our new house I was but a prisoner, watching the strange people I saw thru the window blinds. My bashfulness was such that I would rather have faced a roaring lion than one of the city dudes who strolled about. But my hardest trial came on Sunday when I had to dress up and attend the service. There I met with an accident, the mere thought of which made my blood curdle like sour milk for years afterwards. It was my second ad- venture in a church. Not long before I was entombed for a night in an old chapel on an inaccessible mountain which was visited only once a year. It was an awful experi- ence, but this one was worse. There was a wealthy lady in town, a good but pompous woman, who nscd to come to the church gorgeously painted up and attired with an enormous train and attendants. One Sun- day I had just finished ringing the bell in the belfry and rushed downstairs when this grand dame was sweeping out and I jumped on her train. It tore off with a ri ping noise which sounded like a salvo of) musketry fired by raw recruits. My father was livid with rage. He gave me a gentle slap on the cheek, the only cor- poral punishment he ever administered to me but I almost feel it now. 'l`l1e embar- rassment and confusion that followed are indescribable. I was practicall ostracised until something else happenedy which re- deemed me in the estimation of the com- munity. An enterprising young merchant had or- ganized a fire department. A new fire en- gine was purchased, uniforms provided and the men drilled for service and parade. The engine was, in reality, a pump to be worked by sixteen men and was beautifully painted red and black. One aftemoon the oliicial trial was prepared for and the ma- chine was transported to the river. The entire population turned o\|t to witness the great spectacle. When all the speeches and ceremonies were concluded, the command was given to pump, but not a drop of water came from the nozzle. The professors and experts tried in vain to locate the trouble. The hzzle was complete when I arrived at the scene. My knowledge of the mechan- ism was nil and I knew next to nothing of air pressure, but instinctively I felt for the suction hose in the water and found that it had collapsed. When I waded in the river and opened it up the water rushed forth and not a few Sunday clothes were spoiled. Archimedes running naked thru the streets of Syracuse and shouting Eureka at the top of his voice did not make ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER a greater impression than myself. I was carried on the shoulders and was the hero of the day. Upon settling in the city I began a four- years' course in the so-called Normal School preparatory to my studies at the College or Real-Gymnnsiufn. During this period my boyish efforts and exploits, as well as troubles, continued. Among other things I attained the unique distinction of champion crow catcher in the country. My method of procedure was extremely simple. I would go in the forest hide in the bushes, and imitate the call of the bird. Usually I would get several answers and in a short while a crow would flutter down into thc shrubbery near me. After that all I needed to do was to throw a piece of cardboard to detract, its attention, jump up and grab it before it could extricate itself from the undergrowth. In this way I would capture as many as I desired. But on one occasion something occurred which made me respect them. I had caught a line pair of birds and was returning home with a friend. When we left the forest, thousands of crows had gathered making a frightful racket. In a few minutes the rose in pursuit and soon enveloped ns. 'l`lic fun lasted until all of n stulden I ri-ccived ri Iilow nn the linclr of my head which knocked me down. 'l`hen they attacked me viciously. I was com- pelled to release the two birds and was glad to join my friend who had taken refuge in a cave, In the schoolroom there were a few me- chanical models which interested me and turned my attention to water turbines. I constructed many of these and found great pleasure in operating them. How extra- ordinary was my life an incident may il- lustrate. My \\ncle had no use for this kind of pastime and more than once re- buked me. I was fascinated by a descrip- tion 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 scheinc. Thirty ears later I saw my ideals carried out at Idiagara and marveled at the nn- fathomable mystery of the mind. I made all kinds of other contrivances and contraptions but among these the ar- balists I produced were the best. My arrows, when shot, disappeared from sight and at close range traversed a plank of pine one inch thick. Thru thc continuous tightening of the bows I developed skin on m stomach very much like that of a croco- dille and I am often wondering whether it is due to this exercise that I ani uhle even now to digest cobble-stones! Nor can I pass in silence my performances with the sling which would have enabled me to give a stunning exhibit at the Ilippodromc. And now I will tell of one of my feats with this antique implement of war which will strain to the utmost the credulity of the reader. I was practicing while walking with n\y uncle along the river. The s\1|\ was setting, tl\e trout were playful and from time to time one would shoot up into the air, its glistening body sharply defined against a projecting rock beyond. Of course any boy might have hit a fish under these pro- pitious conditions but I undertook a much more didicult task and I foretold to my uncle, to the minutest detail, what I in- tended doing. I was to hurl a stone to meet the fish, press its body against the rock, and cnt it in two. It was no sooner said than done. My uncle looked at me almost scared out of his wits and ex- claimed "Vodz retro Salana.¥!” and it was a few days before he spoke to mc again, Other records, however great, will be eclipsed but I feel that I could peacefully rest on my laurels for a thousand years. (In the April is-_vue Mr. Tesla will de- .rcribc in detail how lic cunrcizfcd mic of hir mort ini/wrlnnt and fnr reurlling inm‘n|ion_r: "Tlx: Rotary lllngnelic Field."-Editor.) B4

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