Interesting ideas interspersed with nonsense - RSS - by nikhil bhatla, -
Home Archives March 2006

« Some simple ideas - Bill Gates' Monopoly Trial (Clip) »
Book Notes: My Inventions - Autobiography of Tesla
Mar 4, 2006, 12:00p - Book Notes

Last week, Dave piqued my interest about Tesla, so I decided to read his autobiography, which is available online for free. Tesla was an amazing inventor, "at one point creating an earthquake which shook the ground for several miles around his New York laboratory. He also devised a system which anticipated worldwide wireless communications, fax machines, radar, radio- guided missiles and aircraft." (cit) His autobiography was written in 1919. My notes from his book are below:

- " I am credited with being one of the hardest workers and perhaps I am, if thought is the equivalent of labour, for I have devoted to it almost all of my waking hours. But if work is interpreted to be a definite performance in a specified time according to a rigid rule, then I may be the worst of idlers." (ch 1)

- Tesla valued visualization over experimentation, because he believed the former was more efficient, and he was exceptionally good at it:

My method is different. 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 twenty 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 examined 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. (ch1)

This is interesting to me, because this opinion is counter to our current approach at work.

- Tesla had an extremely strong will, and was able to make himself break free of gambling and smoking addictions

- "Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves." (ch 2)

- "An inventor's endeavor is essentially life saving. Whether he harnesses forces, improves devices, or provides new comforts and conveniences, he is adding to the safety of our existence." (ch 2)

- "Instinct is something which transcends knowledge." (ch 3)

- Referring to how lightning is associated with rain: "If we could produce electric effects of the required quality, this whole planet and the conditions of existence on it could be transformed." (ch 5)

- Tesla was convinced that he had created a technology for the global wireless transmission of energy and information:

These examples are cited merely to give an idea of the possibilities of this great scientific advance, which annihilates distance and makes that perfect natural conductor, the Earth, available for all the innumerable purposes which human ingenuity has found for a line-wire. One far-reaching result of this is that any device capable of being operated through one or more wires (at a distance obviously restricted) can likewise be actuated, without artificial conductors and with the same facility and accuracy, at distances to which there are no limits other than those imposed by the physical dimensions of the earth. Thus, not only will entirely new fields for commercial exploitation be opened up by this ideal method of transmission, but the old ones vastly extended. The World System is based on the application of the following import and inventions and discoveries:

1) The Tesla Transformer: This apparatus is in the production of electrical vibrations as revolutionary as gunpowder was in warfare. Currents many times stronger than any ever generated in the usual ways and sparks over one hundred feet long, have been produced by the inventor with an instrument of this kind.

2) The Magnifying Transmitter: This is Tesla's best invention, a peculiar transformer specially adapted to excite the earth, which is in the transmission of electrical energy when the telescope is in astronomical observation. By the use of this marvelous device, he has already set up electrical movements of greater intensity than those of lightening and passed a current, sufficient to light more than two hundred incandescent lamps, around the Earth.

3) The Tesla Wireless System: This system comprises a number of improvements and is the only means known for transmitting economically electrical energy to a distance without wires. Careful tests and measurements in connection with an experimental station of great activity, erected by the inventor in Colorado, have demonstrated that power in any desired amount can be conveyed, clear across the Globe if necessary, with a loss not exceeding a few per cent.

4) The Art of Individualization: This invention of Tesla is to primitive Tuning, what refined language is to unarticulated expression. It makes possible the transmission of signals or messages absolutely secret and exclusive both in the active and passive aspect, that is, non-interfering as well as non-interferable. Each signal is like an individual of unmistakable identity and there is virtually no limit to the number of stations or instruments which can be simultaneously operated without the slightest mutual disturbance.

5) The Terrestrial Stationary Waves: This wonderful discovery, popularly explained, means that the Earth is responsive to electrical vibrations of definite pitch, just as a tuning fork to certain waves of sound. These particular electrical vibrations, capable of powerfully exciting the Globe, lend themselves to innumerable uses of great importance commercially and in many other respects. The "first World System" power plant can be put in operation in nine months. With this power plant, it will be practicable to attain electrical activities up to ten million horsepower and it is designed to serve for as many technical achievements as are possible without due expense.

Among these are the following:

1) The interconnection of existing telegraph exchanges or offices all over the world;

2) The establishment of a secret and non-interferable government telegraph service;

3) The interconnection of all present telephone exchanges or offices around the Globe;

4) The universal distribution of general news by telegraph or telephone, in conjunction with the Press;

5) The establishment of such a "World System" of intelligence transmission for exclusive private use;

6) The interconnection and operation of all stock tickers of the world;

7) The establishment of a World system—of musical distribution, etc.;

8) The universal registration of time by cheap clocks indicating the hour with astronomical precision and requiring no attention whatever;

9) The world transmission of typed or handwritten characters, letters, checks, etc.;

10) The establishment of a universal marine service enabling the navigators of all ships to steer perfectly without compass, to determine the exact location, hour and speak; to prevent collisions and disasters, etc.;

11) The inauguration of a system of world printing on land and sea;

12) The world reproduction of photographic pictures and all kinds of drawings or records..."
(ch 5)

- Tesla fell asleep all the time and forgot memories because of overwork (like me:): "It was especially remarkable that during all this period of partially obliterated memory, I was fully alive to everything touching on the subject of my research." (ch 6)

- "My belief is firm in a law of compensation. The true rewards are ever in proportion to the labour and sacrifices made." (ch 6)

- "Considerations of mere utility weigh little in the balance against the higher benefits of civilization. We are confronted with portentous problems which can not be solved just by providing for our material existence, however abundantly. On the contrary, progress in this direction is fraught with hazards and perils not less menacing than those born from want and suffering. If we were to release the energy of atoms or discover some other way of developing cheap and unlimited power at any point on the globe, this accomplishment, instead of being a blessing, might bring disaster to mankind in giving rise to dissension and anarchy, which would ultimately result in the enthronement of the hated regime of force." (ch 6)

- Tesla was against the US joining the League of Nations, because he felt it would do little to end war: "War can not be avoided until the physical cause for its recurrence is removed and this, in the last analysis, is the vast extent of the planet on which we live. Only though annihilation of distance in every respect, as the conveyance of intelligence, transport of passengers and supplies and transmission of energy will conditions be brought about some day, insuring permanency of friendly relations. What we now want most is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth and the elimination of that fanatic devotion to exalted ideals of national egoism and pride, which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife. No league or parliamentary act of any kind will ever prevent such a calamity. These are only new devices for putting the weak at the mercy of the strong." (ch 6)

- "...I was but an automaton devoid of free will in thought and action and merely responsible to the forces of the environment. Our bodies are of such complexity of structure, the motions we perform are so numerous and involved and the external impressions on our sense organs to such a degree delicate and elusive, that it is hard for the average person to grasp this fact." (ch 6)

- "Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing." (ch 6)

- "We all must have an ideal to govern our conduct and insure contentment, but it is immaterial whether it be one of creed, art, science, or anything else, so long as it fulfills the function of a dematerializing force. It is essential to the peaceful existence of humanity as a whole that one common conception should prevail. While I have failed to obtain any evidence in support of the contentions of psychologists and spiritualists, I have proved to my complete satisfaction the automatism of life, not only through continuous observations of individual actions, but even more conclusively through certain generalizations. These amount to a discovery which I consider of the greatest moment to human society..." (ch 6)

- "Our bodies are of similar construction and exposed to the same external forces. This results in likeness of response and concordance of the general activities on which all our social and other rules and laws are based. We are automata entirely controlled by the forces of the medium, being tossed about like corks on the surface of the water, but mistaking the resultant of the impulses from the outside for the free will." (ch 6)

- For further reading:
The Problem of Increasing Human Energy
Colorado Springs Notes, 1899-1900

No comments - Write 1st Comment

« Some simple ideas - Bill Gates' Monopoly Trial (Clip) »

Come back soon! Better yet, stay up-to-date with RSS and an RSS Reader. Creative Commons License