Nikola Tesla is sometimes referred to as the man who invented the 20th century. And why not? It was Tesla who first produced the alternating current, radio waves, x-rays, radar, hydroelectric power and transistors. Unfortunately, due to his apparent lack of commercial sense, plus some ruthless exploitation of his patents by fellow scientists and businessmen, Tesla is the most underrated inventor in history (although in running a $50 billion car company named for him, Elon Musk is somewhat correcting that).

Nikola Tesla Quotes

Nikola Tesla Quotes

In the twenty-first century, the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization.

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.

Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to infinite distance.

Instinct is something which transcends knowledge. We have, undoubtedly, certain finer fibers that enable us to perceive truths when logical deduction, or any other willful effort of the brain, is futile.

It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects.

Our senses enable us to perceive only a minute portion of the outside world.

The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter – for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. He lives and labors and hopes.

Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life.

His [Thomas Edison’s] 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 ninety per cent 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. In view of this, the truly prodigious amount of his actual accomplishments is little short of a miracle.

Of all the frictional resistances, the one that most retards human movement is ignorance, what Buddha called ‘the greatest evil in the world’.

There is no memory or retentive faculty based on lasting impression. What we designate as memory is but increased responsiveness to repeated stimuli.

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.

Just at that time a terrible epidemic of cholera broke out in my native land. People knew nothing of the character of the disease and the means of sanitation were of the poorest kind. They burned huge piles of odorous shrubbery to purify the air, but drank freely of the infected water and died in crowds like sheep. Contrary to peremptory orders from my father I rushed home and was stricken down. Nine months in bed with scarcely the ability to move seemed to exhaust all my vitality, and I was given up by the physicians. It was an agonizing experience, not so much because of physical suffering as on account of my intense desire to live. On the occasion of one of the fainting spells my father cheered me by a promise to let me study engineering; but it would have remained unfulfilled had it nor been for a marvelous cure brought about by an old lady. There was no force of suggestion or mysterious influence about it. Such means would have had no effect whatever on me, for I was a firm believer in natural laws. The remedy was purely medicinal, heroic if not desperate; but it worked and in one year of mountain climbing and forest life I was fit for the most arduous bodily exertion. My father kept his word, and in 1877 I entered the Joanneum in Gratz, Styria, one of the oldest technical institutions of Europe.

Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs.

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.

Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.


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