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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index T > Nikola Tesla Quotes

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Nikola Tesla
(10 Jul 1856 - 7 Jan 1943)

Serbian-American electrical engineer and inventor.


Science Quotes by Nikola Tesla (15 quotes)

Edison was by far the most successful and, probably, the last exponent of the purely empirical method of investigation. Everything he achieved was the result of persistent trials and experiments often performed at random but always attesting extraordinary vigor and resource. Starting from a few known elements, he would make their combinations and permutations, tabulate them and run through the whole list, completing test after test with incredible rapidity until he obtained a clue. His mind was dominated by one idea, to leave no stone unturned, to exhaust every possibility.
— Nikola Tesla
As quoted in 'Tesla Says Edison Was an Empiricist', The New York Times (19 Oct 1931), 25.
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Ere long intelligence—transmitted without wires—will throb through the earth like a pulse through a living organism. The wonder is that, with the present state of knowledge and the experiences gained, no attempt is being made to disturb the electrostatic or magnetic condition of the earth, and transmit, if nothing else, intelligence.
— Nikola Tesla
Electrical Engineer (24 Jun 1892), 11‎, 609.
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His [Thomas Edison] 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 90 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.
— Nikola Tesla
As quoted in 'Tesla Says Edison Was an Empiricist', The New York Times (19 Oct 1931), 25. In 1884, Tesla had moved to America to assist Edison in the designing of motors and generators.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (25)  |  American (12)  |  Book (100)  |  Calculation (41)  |  Contempt (5)  |  Thomas Edison (29)  |  Extreme (17)  |  Instinct (24)  |  Inventor (25)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Labor (18)  |  Learning (130)  |  Mathematical (9)  |  Method (73)  |  Miracle (25)  |  Practical (30)  |  Prodigious (4)  |  Saving (12)  |  Theory (353)  |  Trust (13)  |  Witness (9)

I came from Paris in the Spring of 1884, and was brought in intimate contact with him [Thomas Edison]. We experimented day and night, holidays not excepted. His existence was made up of alternate periods of work and sleep in the laboratory. He had no hobby, cared for no sport or amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene. There can be no doubt that, if he had not married later a woman of exceptional intelligence, who made it the one object of her life to preserve him, he would have died many years ago from consequences of sheer neglect. So great and uncontrollable was his passion for work.
— Nikola Tesla
As quoted in 'Tesla Says Edison Was an Empiricist', The New York Times (19 Oct 1931), 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Amusement (14)  |  Care (37)  |  Death (183)  |  Thomas Edison (29)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Hobby (2)  |  Holiday (3)  |  Hygiene (7)  |  Intelligence (76)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Marriage (19)  |  Neglect (10)  |  Night (26)  |  Passion (24)  |  Preservation (14)  |  Sleep (25)  |  Sport (7)  |  Uncontrollable (3)  |  Woman (36)  |  Work (198)

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.
— Nikola Tesla
Quoted by Cleveland Moffitt, 'A Talk With Tesla', Atlanta Constitution (7 Jun 1896)
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Creation (129)  |  Emotion (28)  |  Food (77)  |  Forget (10)  |  Friend (22)  |  Heart (46)  |  Inventor (25)  |  Sleep (25)  |  Success (114)  |  Thrill (8)

I have satisfied myself that the [cosmic] rays are not generated by the formation of new matter in space, a process which would be like water running up a hill. Nor do they come to any appreciable amount from the stars. According to my investigations the sun emits a radiation of such penetrative power that it is virtually impossible to absorb it in lead or other substances. ... This ray, which I call the primary solar ray, gives rise to a secondary radiation by impact against the cosmic dust scattered through space. It is the secondary radiation which now is commonly called the cosmic ray, and comes, of course, equally from all directions in space. [The article continues: The phenomena of radioactivity are not the result of forces within the radioactive substances but are caused by this ray emitted by the sun. If radium could be screened effectively against this ray it would cease to be radioactive, he said.]
— Nikola Tesla
Quoted in 'Tesla, 75, Predicts New Power Source', New York Times (5 Jul 1931), Section 2, 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Absorb (2)  |  Cosmic Ray (5)  |  Emit (2)  |  Hill (14)  |  Investigation (83)  |  Lead (33)  |  Matter (135)  |  Penetration (10)  |  Power (103)  |  Radiation (13)  |  Radioactivity (21)  |  Solar Energy (13)  |  Space (68)  |  Star (132)  |  Sun (115)  |  Water (122)

If he [Thomas Edison] had a needle to find in a haystack, he would not stop to reason where it was most likely to be, but would proceed at once with the feverish diligence of a bee, to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. … [J]ust a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety percent of his labor.
— Nikola Tesla
As quoted in 'Tesla Says Edison Was an Empiricist', The New York Times (19 Oct 1931), 25. In 1884, Tesla had moved to America to assist Edison in the designing of motors and generators.
Science quotes on:  |  Bee (13)  |  Calculation (41)  |  Diligence (7)  |  Thomas Edison (29)  |  Examine (4)  |  Labor (18)  |  Needle (3)  |  Proceed (7)  |  Reason (173)  |  Saving (12)  |  Search (40)  |  Straw (4)  |  Theory (353)

Now, I must tell you of a strange experience which bore fruit in my later life. ... We had a cold [snap] drier that ever observed before. People walking in the snow left a luminous trail behind them and a snowball thrown against an obstacle gave a flare of light like a loaf of sugar hit with a knife. [As I stroked] Mačak's back, [it became] a sheet of light and my hand produced a shower of sparks. ... My father ... remarked, this is nothing but electricity, the same thing you see on the trees in a storm. My mother seemed alarmed. Stop playing with the cat, she said, he might start a fire. I was thinking abstractly. Is nature a cat? If so, who strokes its back? It can only be God, I concluded. ...
I cannot exaggerate the effect of this marvelous sight on my childish imagination. Day after day I asked myself what is electricity and found no answer. Eighty years have gone by since and I still ask the same question, unable to answer it.
— Nikola Tesla
Letter to Miss Pola Fotitch, 'A Story of Youth Told by Age' (1939). In John Ratzlaff, editor, Tesla Said (1984), 283-84. Cited in Marc J. Seifer, Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla (1998), 5.
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Of all the frictional resistances, the one that most retards human movement is ignorance, what Buddha called 'the greatest evil in the world.' The friction which results from ignorance ... can be reduced only by the spread of knowledge and the unification of the heterogeneous elements of humanity. No effort could be better spent.
— Nikola Tesla
'The Problem of Increasing Human Energy', The Century (Jun 1900), 211. Collected in The Century (1900), Vol. 60, 211
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Perhaps it is better in this present world of ours that a revolutionary idea or invention instead of being helped and patted be hampered and ill-treated in its adolescence—by want of means, by selfish interest, pedantry, stupidity and ignorance; that it be attacked and stifled; that it pass through bitter trials and tribulations, through the heartless strife of commercial existence. ... So all that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combatted, suppressed—only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.
— Nikola Tesla
'The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires As a Means for Furthering Peace', Electrical World and Engineer (7 Jan 1905), 24. Reproduced in John T. Ratzlaff, editor, Tesla Said (1984), 86. Also reprinted in Nikola Tesla, Miscellaneous Writings (2007), 58.
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The idea of atomic energy is illusionary but it has taken so powerful a hold on the minds, that although I have preached against it for twenty-five years, there are still some who believe it to be realizable.
— Nikola Tesla
Quoted in 'Tesla, 75, Predicts New Power Source', New York Times (5 Jul 1931), Section 2, 1.
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The recurrence of a phenomenon like Edison is not very likely. The profound change of conditions and the ever increasing necessity of theoretical training would seem to make it impossible. He will occupy a unique and exalted position in the history of his native land, which might well be proud of his great genius and undying achievements in the interest of humanity.
— Nikola Tesla
As quoted in 'Tesla Says Edison Was an Empiricist', The New York Times (19 Oct 1931), 25. In 1884, Tesla had moved to America to assist Edison in the designing of motors and generators.
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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.
— Nikola Tesla
'The Problem of Increasing Human Energy', The Century (Jun 1900), 211. Collected in The Century (1900), Vol. 60, 211
Science quotes on:  |  Idea (226)  |  Research (360)  |  Scientist (237)

There is an influence which is getting strong and stronger day by day, which shows itself more and more in all departments of human activity, and influence most fruitful and beneficial—the influence of the artist. It was a happy day for the mass of humanity when the artist felt the desire of becoming a physician, an electrician, an engineer or mechanician or—whatnot—a mathematician or a financier; for it was he who wrought all these wonders and grandeur we are witnessing. It was he who abolished that small, pedantic, narrow-grooved school teaching which made of an aspiring student a galley-slave, and he who allowed freedom in the choice of subject of study according to one's pleasure and inclination, and so facilitated development.
— Nikola Tesla
'Roentgen Rays or Streams', Electrical Review (12 Aug 1896). Reprinted in The Nikola Tesla Treasury (2007), 307. By Nikola Tesla
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We may produce at will, from a sending station. an electrical effect in any particular region of the globe; we may determine the relative position or course of a moving object, such as a vessel at sea, the distance traversed by the same, or its speed.
— Nikola Tesla
'The Problem of Increasing Human Energy', The Century (Jun 1900), 211. Collected in The Century (1900), Vol. 60, 209.
Science quotes on:  |  Distance (26)  |  Position (18)  |  Radar (5)  |  Speed (11)



Quotes by others about Nikola Tesla (1)

The world, I think, will wait a long time for Nikola Tesla's equal in achievement and imagination.
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Imagination (130)


See also:
  • todayinsci icon 10 Jul - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Tesla's birth.
  • book icon Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius, by Marc Seifer. - book suggestion.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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