Tesla’s Sad Last Interview: “I’m a defeated man. I wanted to illuminate the whole earth.” by Science Apr 5, 2017

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1899 Nikola Tesla interview said “Everything is the Light” = “These are some of my most important discoveries. I’m a defeated man. I have not accomplished the greatest thing I could…I wanted to illuminate the whole earth…I have created a Ball Lightning, which can be heard on the icy peaks of the Himalayas…Newton learned…that the supreme law of harmony exists in the Universe.”

Tesla: Mr. Mark Twain…requested to show him a machine that by vibration provokes a feeling of bliss…Everything that we once saw, hear, read and learn, accompanies us in the form of light particles. To me, these particles are obedient and faithful….I might have to thank to visualization for all that I invented.

Tesla: “…I have so loved to play with electricity!…Lightning are the most beautiful toys that can be found…there is general knowledge and truth that man has always possessed. In my feeling and experience, the Universe has only one substance and one supreme energy with an infinite number of manifestations of life…Everything is Electricity. First was the light, endless source from which points out material and distribute it in all forms that represent the Universe and the Earth with all its aspects of life…possesses light, thermal, nuclear, radiation, chemical, mechanical and an unidentified energy…I discovered the rotating magnetic field and induction motor, which made me became famous when I was twenty-six?…I saw spinning magnetic field, and induction motor…The sound does not exist only in the thunder and lightning, but, in transformation into the brightness and color…Everything is light.”

Tesla: “…no one who was there did not die. They transformed into the light, and as such exist still. The secret lies in the fact that the light particles restore their original state…return to a previous energy…preserve human energy…the first feature of the energy is that it transforms. It is in perpetual transformation…it is possible…man preserves consciousness after the earthly life.”

Tesla: Earth … It is an illness whose existence the vast majority of people are not aware of. Hence, many other illnesses, suffering, evil, misery, wars and everything else what makes human life an absurd and horrible condition. This disease cannot be completely cured, but awareness shall make it less complicated and hazardous…Remedy is in our hearts and evenly, in the heart of the animals that we call the Universe.”


Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) Austrian-Serbian-American inventor best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Pronouncements he made to the press later in life earned him the reputation of an archetypal “mad scientist.”

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Alternating current
High-frequency power
Design for Induction motor
Rotating magnetic field
Tesla coil
Radio remote control vehicle
Worked in telephony
Worked at Continental Edison Machine Works in the new electric power industry.
Set up laboratories for a range of electrical and mechanical devices using alternating current (AC)
AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money
The polyphase system which Westinghouse would eventually market.
Mechanical oscillators/generators
Electrical discharge tubes
Early X-ray imaging
A wireless-controlled boat
Wireless lighting
Worldwide wireless electric power distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments
Possibility of wireless communication
Unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project, wireless communication & power transmitter
SI unit of magnetic flux density

Tesla was born into a Serb family in the village of Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia). His father was an Orthodox priest and mother had a talent for making home craft tools and mechanical appliances and the ability to memorize Serbian epic poems. Tesla credited his vivid image memory and creative abilities to his mother.

Tesla became interested in demonstrations of “mysterious phenomena” of electricity by his physics professor which made him want “to know more of this wonderful force”.

Tesla came into conflict with Professor Poeschl over the Gramme dynamo, when Tesla suggested that commutators were not necessary.

Worked as a draftsman
In Budapest he work at a telegraph & telephone company as the chief electrician and claimed to have perfected a telephone repeater or amplifier but never patented or publicly displayed.

Worked at Continental Edison Company in Paris, a brand new industry, installing indoor incandescent lighting citywide for the electric power utility. Management took notice of his advanced knowledge in engineering and physics and soon had him designing and building improved versions of generating dynamos and motors around France and in Germany.

Worked at Edison Machine Works in New York tenement area in an overcrowded shop = “painful surprise” compared to Europe and quit after 6 months. He worked at task of building the large electric utility in NYC. Tesla was assigned to develop an arc lamp based street lighting system, but it required high voltages and was incompatible with the Edison low voltage incandescent system, causing the company to lose contracts in cities that wanted street lighting as well — Never implemented and he quit.

After leaving the Edison company Tesla worked on patenting an arc lighting system and had two investors who agreed to finance an arc lighting manufacturing and utility company in Tesla’s name, the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing and obtained the patents that included an improved DC generator, the first patents issued to Tesla in the US, and building and installing the system in Rahway, New Jersey. Tesla’s new system gained notice in the technical press, who commented on its advanced features. The investors decided that the manufacturing side of the business was too competitive and opted to simply run an electric utility and formed a new utility company, abandoning Tesla’s company and leaving the inventor penniless and Tesla even lost control of the patents he had generated.

Tesla’s alternating current induction motor led investors to set up another company to promote Tesla’s new idea’s for electrical equipment, including a thermo-magnetic motor idea, and they agreed to back the inventor financially and handle his patents in the Tesla Electric Company in 1887, with Tesla getting 33% of the profits. He worked on improving and developing new types of electric motors, generators, and other devices including an innovative induction motor that ran on alternating current patented in May 1888 and did not need a commutator, thus avoiding sparking and the high maintenance of constantly servicing and replacing mechanical brushes. Engineers working for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company reported to George Westinghouse that Tesla had a viable AC motor and related power system — something Westinghouse needed for the alternating current system he was already marketing and finally decided that Tesla’s patented (1888) would probably control the market. Westinghouse hired Tesla to work in Pittsburgh for one year for the large fee of $2,000 ($53,300 in today’s dollars) per month to be a consultant at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company’s Pittsburgh labs. + His investors negotiated a licensing deal with George Westinghouse for Tesla’s polyphase induction motor and transformer designs for $60,000 in cash and stock and a royalty of $2.50 per AC horsepower produced by each motor. During that year Tesla helped create an alternating current system to power the city’s streetcars, but had conflicts with the other Westinghouse engineers over how best to implement AC power and instead a DC traction motor was implemented. Financial panic of 1890 resulted in Westinghouse cutting off the per motor royalty in the Tesla contract as the AC motor had been unsuccessful and was stuck in development. The advantages of having Westinghouse continue to champion the motor probably seemed obvious to Tesla and he agreed to release the company from the royalty payment clause in the contract and 6 years later Westinghouse purchased Tesla’s patent for a lump sum payment of $216,000 as part of a patent sharing agreement signed with General Electric (a company created in 1892 merger of Edison, and Thompson-Houston). Tesla licensing his AC patents made him independently wealthy and gave him the time and funds to pursue his own interests in a new lab with his own hired staff to conduct some of his most significant work.

1889 Tesla traveled to Paris conference and learned of Heinrich Hertz’ 1886–88 experiments that proved the existence of electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves. From that Tesla came up with his Tesla coil with an air gap to avoid overheating (1891) at 35, Tesla patented his Tesla coil and became a US citizen.

1891 Tesla demonstrating wireless lighting by “electrostatic induction.” He would spend most of the decade working on variations of this new form of lighting with the help of various investors but none of the ventures succeeded in to making a commercial product out of his findings.

1893 Tesla said he was sure a system like his could eventually conduct “intelligible signals or perhaps even power to any distance without the use of wires” by conducting it through the Earth.

1892-1894 Tesla served as a vice-president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the forerunner of the modern-day IEEE.

1893 Tesla found a better way to generate alternating current = Steam powered reciprocating electricity generator patented in 1893 = Steam pushed a piston up and down and was attached to a magnetic armature that vibrated up and down at high speed, producing an alternating magnetic field to produce alternating electric current in the wire coils and did away with the complicated parts of a steam engine/generator, but never caught on as a feasible engineering solution to generate electricity.

1893 Westinghouse perfected the Tesla Polyphase System as an efficient version induction motor branded as the “Tesla Polyphase System”. Westinghouse Electric won the bid to light the Exposition with alternating current and it was a key event in the history of AC power, as the company demonstrated to the American public the safety, reliability, and efficiency of a fully integrated alternating current system. Tesla explained the principles of the rotating magnetic field in an induction motor by demonstrating how to make a copper egg stand on end to introduced his new steam powered oscillator AC generator.

1893 Niagara Falls sought Tesla’s opinion on what system would be best to transmit power generated at the falls. The company awarded a contract to Westinghouse Electric for building a two-phase AC generating system at the Niagara Falls, based on Tesla’s advice and Westinghouse’s demonstration at the Columbian Exposition that they could build a complete AC system. At the same time a further contract was awarded to General Electric to build the AC distribution system.

1895 Investors agreed to help found the Nikola Tesla Company to develop and market Tesla patents and inventions but the mid-1890s was a tough time financially, and the wireless lighting and oscillators patents it was set up to market never panned out. The company would handle Tesla’s patents for decades to come.

1895 A fire destroyed Tesla’s ongoing projects and a collection of early notes and research material, models, and demonstration pieces, including many that had been exhibited. Tesla told The New York Times “I am in too much grief to talk.”

1894 Tesla began investigating what he referred to as radiant energy of “invisible” kinds and may have inadvertently captured an X-ray image—predating, by a few weeks, Wilhelm Röntgen’s December 1895 announcement of the discovery of x-rays—when he tried to photograph Mark Twain illuminated by a Geissler tube, an earlier type of gas discharge tube.

1896, after hearing of Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-ray and X-ray imaging (radiography), Tesla proceeded to do his own experiments in X-ray imaging, developing a high energy single terminal vacuum tube of his own design that had no target electrode and that worked from the output of the Tesla Coil. Tesla devised several experimental setups to produce X-rays. Tesla claimed his circuits and the “instrument will … enable one to generate Roentgen rays of much greater power than obtainable with ordinary apparatus.” Tesla noted the hazards skin damage but said they were not caused by the Roentgen rays, but incorrectly said it was caused by ozone contact with the skin, believing that X-rays were safe force-free magnetic fields.

1898 Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat which he hoped to sell as a guided torpedo to navies around the world. Tesla tried to sell his idea to the U.S. military, but they showed little interest. Remote radio control remained a novelty until World War I, when a number of countries used it in military programs.

1890 to 1906 Tesla spent a great deal of his time and fortune on a series of projects trying to develop the transmission of electrical power without wires = Wireless lighting as not only a way to transmit large amounts of power around the world and also a way to transmit worldwide communications. By the mid 1890s Tesla was working on the idea that he might be able to conduct electricity long distance through the Earth or the atmosphere and began working on experiments to test this idea including setting up a large resonance transformer magnifying transmitter in NYC lab. He proposed a system composed of balloons suspending transmitter and receiving electrodes in the air above 30,000 feet (9,100 m) in altitude, where he thought the lower pressure would allow him to send high voltages (millions of volts) long distances (Satellites).

1899 In Colorado Springs Tesla set up an experimental station at high altitude where he could safely operate much larger coils than in the cramped confines of his New York lab and an associate had made an arrangement for the El Paso Power Company to supply alternating current free of charge. John Jacob Astor IV invested $100,000 to become a majority share holder in the Nikola Tesla Company. Astor thought he was primarily investing in the new wireless lighting system. Instead, Tesla used the money to fund his Colorado Springs experiments. Upon his arrival, he told reporters that he planned to conduct wireless telegraphy experiments, transmitting signals from Pikes Peak to Paris. His “magnifying transmitter” generating millions of volts to conduct experiments & produce artificial lightning and, at one point, inadvertently burned out the generator in El Paso, causing a power outage. He incorrectly conclude that he could use the entire globe of the Earth to conduct electrical energy. Tesla claimed he observed unusual signals from his receiver which he concluded may be communications from another planet and reporters jumped to the conclusion Tesla was hearing signals from Mars.

1901 In a Collier’s Weekly article Tesla wrote “Talking With Planets” said it was apparent to him that he was hearing “intelligently controlled signals” and that the signals could come from Mars, Venus, or other planets, but may have intercepted Guglielmo Marconi’s European experiments in July 1899 from a naval demonstration = Another experimenter in wireless transmission. Tesla explained the superiority of the wireless system he envisioned.

1904 Tesla’s Wardenclyffe plant on Long Island hoped to demonstrate wireless transmission of electrical energy across the Atlantic. Tesla obtained $150,000 ($4,318,200 in today’s dollars) from J. Pierpont Morgan in return for a 51% share of any generated wireless patents and began planning the Wardenclyffe Tower facility to build a more powerful transmitter to leap ahead of Marconi’s radio based system, which Tesla thought was a copy of his system. In Dec 1901 Marconi successfully transmitted the letter S from England to Newfoundland, defeating Tesla in the race to be first to complete such a transmission. Despite Morgan’s refusal to fund more efforts Tesla continued the project for another nine months into 1902 and the tower was erected to its full 187 feet and Tesla moved his lab operations to Wardenclyffe. The project halted in 1905 and in 1906 Tesla suffered a nervous breakdown he lost everything in foreclosures in 1915 and in 1917 and the Tower was demolished to make the land a more viable real estate development.

1906 Tesla opened offices in Manhattan to develop and market his patents. In 1925 he was effectively bankrupt and most of his patents had run out and he was having trouble with the new inventions he was trying to develop.

1906 Tesla demonstrated a 200 horsepower (150 kilowatts) bladeless turbine. But engineering difficulties meant it was never made into a practical device. Tesla did license the idea to a precision instrument company and it found use in the form of luxury car speedometers and other instruments.

1915 Tesla attempted to sue the Marconi Company for infringement of his wireless tuning patents. Tesla’s case went nowhere. But in 1943 a related case, where the Marconi Company tried to sue the US government over WWI patent infringements, a Supreme Court of the United States 1943 decision restored the prior patents of Oliver Lodge, John Stone, and Tesla.

1912 Tesla theorized that the application of electricity to the brain enhanced intelligence. He crafted “a plan to make dull students bright by saturating them unconsciously with electricity,” wiring the walls of a schoolroom and, “saturating [the schoolroom] with infinitesimal electric waves vibrating at high frequency. Tesla claimed a health-giving and stimulating electromagnetic field or ‘bath’ would make them smarter.

After the WW 1 Tesla lost the funding he was receiving from his patents in European countries.

1917 Tesla received AIEE’s highest honor, the Edison Medal in an edition of the magazine Electrical Experimenter. Tesla postulated that electricity could be used to locate submarines using the reflection of an “electric ray” of “tremendous frequency,” with the signal being viewed on a fluorescent screen, but Tesla was incorrect in his assumption that high frequency radio waves would penetrate water. But the man who developed France’s first radar system in the 1930s, noted in 1953 that Tesla’s general speculation that a very strong high-frequency signal would be needed was correct.

1928 Tesla received a U.S. Patent for a biplane capable of taking off vertically and then be “gradually tilted through manipulation of the elevator devices” in flight until it was flying like a conventional plane, although the aircraft has been described as impractical.

Tesla = I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them for years. One beautiful bird, a pure white female that came when he called her. I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life. But Tesla’s unpaid bills and complaints about the mess from his pigeon feeding forced him to leave the St. Regis in 1923, the Hotel Pennsylvania in 1930, and the Hotel Governor Clinton in 1934.

1934 Tesla moved to the Hotel New Yorker and Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company began paying him $125 per month as well as paying his rent, expenses the Company would pay for the rest of Tesla’s life. Perhaps Westinghouse was worried about (or warned about) potential bad publicity surrounding the impoverished conditions their former star inventor was living under.

1931 A young writer organized a celebration for the inventor’s 75th birthday including letters from more than 70 pioneers in science and engineering, including Albert Einstein, and he was also featured on the cover of Time magazine captioned “All the world’s his power house” and noted his contribution to electrical power generation.

1932-33 Birthday parties Tesla claimed he had invented a motor that would run on cosmic rays and he was on the verge of producing proof of a new form of energy that would be cheap to run and last 500 years.

1934 party, Tesla told reporters he had designed a super weapon he claimed would end all war, referred to it as his death ray, but described it as a defensive weapon. Detailed plans of how the weapon worked surfaced in 1984 at the Nikola Tesla Museum archive in Belgrade = Millions of volts through electrostatic repulsion and Tesla tried to interest the US War Department, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia in the device.

1935 at his 79th birthday party Tesla claimed to have discovered the cosmic ray in 1896, invented a way to produce direct current by induction, and made many claims regarding his mechanical oscillator. He told reporters that a version of his oscillator caused an earthquake in downtown New York City in 1898 and could destroy the Empire State Building with 5 lbs of air pressure. He also claimed his oscillators called “Telegeodynamics”, transmits vibrations into the ground that he claimed would work over any distance to be used for communication or locating underground mineral deposits.

1937 Birthday celebration in the Grand Ballroom of Hotel New Yorker Tesla received the “Order of the White Lion” from the Czechoslovakia ambassador and a medal from the Yugoslavian ambassador. He was also his by a taxi but refused to consult a doctor — an almost lifelong custom, and he never fully recovered.

1943, at the age of 86, Tesla died alone in Room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel of coronary thrombosis. FBI ordered the Alien Property Custodian to seize Tesla’s belongings, even though Tesla was an American citizen. John G. Trump, a professor at M.I.T. and a well-known electrical engineer serving as a technical aide to the National Defense Research Committee, was called in to analyze the Tesla items, which were being held in custody. After a three-day investigation, Trump’s report concluded that there was nothing which would constitute a hazard in unfriendly hands. Two thousand people attended a state funeral for Tesla at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

1952 Tesla’s nephew forced his entire estate to be. shipped to Belgrade in 80 trunks to what would become the Nikola Tesla Museum.

Tesla = Obtained 300 patents worldwide for his inventions in 26 countries, mostly in the United States, Britain, and Canada.

Tesla = Walked 8 to 10 miles per day and curled his toes one hundred times for each foot every night, saying that it stimulated his brain cells.

Tesla believed that all fundamental laws could be reduced to one.

Tesla became a vegetarian in his later years, living on only milk, bread, honey, and vegetable juices.

Tesla was 6 feet 2 inches and weighed 142 pounds described by newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane as “almost the tallest, almost the thinnest and certainly the most serious man who goes to Delmonico’s regularly”. He was an elegant, stylish figure in New York City, meticulous in his grooming, clothing, and regimented in his daily activities, an appearance he maintained as to further his business relationships. He was also described as having light eyes, “very big hands”, and “remarkably big” thumbs.

Tesla spoke eight languages and had a unusually powerful memory. He suffered a peculiar affliction in which blinding flashes of light would appear before his eyes, often accompanied by visions that sometimes solved problems he encountered he called picture thinking.

Tesla claimed to never sleep more than two hours per night, but admits to “dozing to recharge his batteries.”

Tesla never married; explaining that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities, and he could never be worthy enough for a woman, and considered women superior in every way. Tesla felt “NEW WOMEN” were losing their femininity by trying to be in power = “In place of the soft voiced, gentle woman of my reverent worship, has come the woman who thinks that her chief success in life lies in making herself as much as possible like man—in dress, voice and actions, in sports and achievements of every kind … The tendency of women to push aside man, supplanting the old spirit of cooperation with him in all the affairs of life, is very disappointing to me”. Tesla chose to never pursue or engage in any known relationships, instead finding all the stimulation he needed in his work. Tesla was asocial and prone to seclude himself with his work. But he has been described as having ”distinguished sweetness, sincerity, modesty, refinement, generosity, and force” and had a “genial smile and nobility of bearing always denoted the gentlemanly characteristics that were so ingrained in his soul” and “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.”

Tesla expressed disgust for overweight people and fired a secretary because of her weight. He was quick to criticize clothing and directed a subordinate to go home and change her dress.

Tesla believed in the 19th century concept of an all pervasive “ether” that transmitted electrical energy. He was generally antagonistic towards theories about the conversion of matter into energy, and was critical of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Tesla = Wanted imposed selective breeding and eugenics, and believed humans’ “pity” had interfered with the natural “ruthless workings of nature” and prevented a “master race” of superior people. = “… man’s new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct …The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult. Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.”

1914 Tesla predicted post-World War I wars in a printed article, “Science and Discovery are the great Forces which will lead to the Consummation of the War”, and Tesla believed that the League of Nations was not a remedy for the times and issues.

Tesla was raised an Orthodox Christian and opposed religious fanaticism. He said “To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end” and “what we call ‘soul’ or ‘spirit,’ is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the ‘soul’ or the ‘spirit’ ceases likewise”.

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