Saturday, October 25, 2014

Forget Marconi - here's Tesla

Found - this astonishing and admiring piece about Tesla from The Courier-Journal coming out of Louisville, Kentucky (Sunday, August 22, 1897)- although this was probably a syndicated article. It has some very good descriptions of the appearance and lifestyle of Tesla (His eyes are blue,deeply set, and they burn like balls of fire, those weird flashes of light he makes with his instrument seem also to shoot from them...) and manages to make light of Marconi's recent achievements as rather minor compared to Tesla (in May 1897, the 22 year old Marconi had sent the world's first ever wireless communication over open sea.)

....almost coincident with the announcement that (Tesla) has solved the great problem upon which he has been at work for nearly seven years comes the news that an Italian youth, Guglielmo Marconi has discovered a means of telegraphing without wires. The scientific world acknowledges the value of Marconi's invention. It admits its practical use. The same men who honor Marconi worship Tesla. Marconi has explained, and his methods are easily grasped. Tesla has simply said that he has accomplished his great work, and they believe. Years ago those recognised as masters admitted that Tesla had no peer in abstract electrical research. To-day the most scientific, the farthest advanced, look upon him with rapt admiring eyes. That which he says he has accomplished seems like the dream of an intoxicated god.

The most brilliant and wonderful flights of imagination becomes feeble and pitiful beside Tesla's facts. When the young man announced publicly, about five years ago that he believed the time would come when he would be able to transmit electrical vibration without wires.. . The dream has become a reality. 

It any man knows the secret of the invention by which the results have been accomplished he has guarded it closely. Tesla has given his word that it is so. 'The suspicious scientific world that demands convincing proof has taken his assertion, accepted it as a demonstrated fact. But it does not compare with the achievements of Tesla. Telegraphy is an unimportant factor in the great scheme. It is the great transmission of power that is the useful principle. (With his machine he claims that he can 'disturb the, electrical conditions of the earth' and ' make' the electrostatic force 'do his will.' (As he told: one writer, he hopes to make ..Niagara Falls drive mills in New England, send ships across the sea and transmit thought or information to the uttermost parts of the earth. As to' the working out of the mechanical part of the problem Tesla gives no information. It is a mere detail in his mind, something that any able electrical engineer can do. It is a trifle with which be has not time to bother. The achievement carries with it another that has been more talked about - the making of light without wires. Tesla has produced a light that has all the brilliancy and qualities of sunlight. And it can be made cheaper than, the ordinary electric light...

The material facts of his life are well enough known... The day he arrived in the United States Tesla went to work in Edison's laboratory. Afterward he became associated with different companies, which placed his inventions upon the market, for Tesla has made many which only electricians know about. It was a little more than seven years ago that he established a laboratory in South Fifth Avenue, in New York, snd devoted himself to that research, and experiment that is his joy and ambition. These bald facts give little hint of the man himself. So far as personal sppearance goes no one can look upon him without feeling his force. He is more than six feet tall and very slender. Yet he possesses great physical power. His hands are large, his thumbs abnormally long, and this is a sign of great intelligence. His hair is black and straight, a deep, shining black. He brushes it sharply from over his ears, so that it makes a little ridge with serrated edges. His cheekbones are high and prominent, the mark of the Slav: his skin is like marble that age has given the first scarring of yellow. His eyes are blue,deeply set, and they burn like balls of fire, those weird flashes of light he makes with his instrument seem also to shoot from them. His head is wedge- shaped. His chin is almost a point. So much for the appearance of the man. Never was a human being filled with loftier ideals. Never did a man labor so unceasingly, so earnestly, so unselfishly for the benefit of his race. Tesla is not rich. He does not trouble himself about money. Had be chosen to follow in the footsteps of Edison he could be, perhaps, the richest man in the world, and Tesla is just forty years old. Tesla equipped himself with the best technical education that Europe and America could furnish. He mastered al that the men who had gone before him had accomplished. And all the while he reasoned for himself. Nothing of importance that Tesla has discovered has been an accident. For a quarter of a century he has lived with his whole consciousness near the bosom of nature. He has wrested her secrets from her. He has learned the source of her power. Now he has harnessed it that man may be happier and better. To the layman Tesla's life seems to be bound up in vibrations. Three or four years ago electricians declared that 300 a second was the limit. Tests an nounced that he was sure be could ob-tain 30,000,000 vibrations a second. Already he has secured 60,000,000 and the end is far off. These figures snow tne relative position of Tesla and other electrical scientists.

 The daily life of this man has been the same..He lives in the Gerlach a very quiet family hotel, in 27th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue. He starts for his laboratory before 6 o'clock in the morning, when he has not passed the night there. All day long he lives in his weird, uncanny world, reaching forth to capture new power to gain fresh knowledge. No stranger ever sees him at his work. No one knows of his assistant. At rare intervals he presents some experiments in his laboratory, and there is no sacrifice that thousands of people would not make to gain admission to these. Usually be works until o'clock, but he may stay later. Tbe absence of natural light does not trouble him. Tesla, makes sunlight in his workshop. At exactly 6 o'clock he enters tne Waldorf. He is attired in irreproachable evening clothes. In the winter time be never wears an evening jacket- but always the coat with tails. He walks directly to a table in the farthest corner of the palm garden which is reserved for him. He carries two or three newspapers in his hands and one of these he perches before him. No gourmet who dines at tbe Waldorf can order a better dinner than Tesla. It is an elaborate dinner of many courses. He drinks a fine Burgundy and a fine champagne - a quart of one and a pint of the other. His dinner costs Tesla never less than $15 and seldom more. It is practically the only meal he eats during the day. He never tips the waiter or the man who takes care of his hat and coat less than a dollar. He finishes his dinner at exactly 10 o'clock, and leaves the hotel, either to go to his rooms to study or to return to his laboratory to work through the night.

 Two or three times a week he will go to a barber shop. He demands thst the towels and coverings on tbe chair be changed, and does not object to tbe barber using the common mug and brush. He insists upon having his head rubbed for nearly half an hour. These are the only occasions when Tesla appears in public. Perhaps two or three times a year some one may dine with him. He is a bold man wbo will dine with Tesla. If he has any sense at all he will realise that be can give the scientist not the slightest title of information about anything that interests him. And he can not understand about what Tesla is talking for more than two minutes at time. For this marvelous mind lives in a realm of weird and so awful that the ordinary intelligence draws back affrighted. Tesla is above all things, a serious man, undoubtedly the most serious man in New York. Yet he has a keen sense of humour  and the most beautiful manners. He is the most genuinely modest of men. He knows no jealousy. He has never decried the accomplishments of another, never refused credit. When he talks you listen. You do not know what he is saying, but it enthralls you. You feel tbe importance without inderstand!ng the meaning. He speaks the perfect English of a highly educated foreigner without accent and with precision. He speaks six to eight languages equally well . , He speaks constantly about electrostatic force, that ' mighty power which he has chained at last... 

Tesla has never married, snd it is not likely that he ever shall. His father and mother are both dead. His brothers are in his native land. Tesla is an American citizen. It ia not likely that any child shall bear his name in this country. He has elected to devote his whole life to this work, snd for this reason he is denied tbe love and companionship of a good woman. , And this. too he has explained. "I believe that a writer or a musician should marry. They gain inspiration that leads to finer achievement...but an inventor has so intense a nature, with so much in it of a wild, passionate quality that, in giving himself to a woman, he would give up everything, and so take everything from his chosen field. It is a pity, too, sometimes we feel so lonely." But the inventor who succeeds has his recompense, and this also has Tesla spoken about. "In my student days I have known what it was to pass forty-eight hours at a stretch at a gaming table, under going intense emotion, that which most people believe is the strongest that can be known, but it is tame and insipid compared with that sublime moment when you see the labor or weeks fructify in a successful experiment that proves your theories." Many times has Nikola Tesla known that supreme happiness. And he is likely to know it often again, it is impossible that his life work can be finished at forty. It would seem that his powers are only reaching their maturity. No man has ever occupied tne place that he has, for he is not -only an uncrowned king of science, he is not only the deepest, most original investigator; be is a real discoverer of wonderful forces, and inventor of the harness to control them, and in addition to all these things he is a seer as well...

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