Nikola Tesla: anecdotes
A young inventor
``The child began when only a few years of age to make original
inventions. When he was five, he built a small waterwheel quite
unlike those he had seen in the countryside. It was smooth, without
paddles, yet it spun evenly in the current. Years later he was
to recall this fact when designing his unique bladeless turbine.
But some of his other experiments were less successful. Once he perched
on the roof of the barn, clutching the family umbrella and
hyperventilating on the fresh mountain breeze until his body felt
light and the dizziness in his head convinced him he could fly.
Plunging to earth, he lay unconcious and was carried off to bed by
His sixteen-bug-power motor was, likewise, not an unqualified success.
This was a light contrivance made of splinters forming a windmill,
with a spindle and pulley attached to live June bugs. When the glued
insects beat their wings, as they did desperately, the bug-power
engine prepared to take off. This line of research was forever
abandoned however when a young friend dropped by who fancied
the taste of June bugs. Noticing a jarful standing near, he began
cramming them into his mouth. The youthful inventor threw up.''
Adopted from "Tesla: Man out of time", by Margaret Cheney, 1981.
``Another anecdote about the inventor is told by the Reverend Stijacic.
On his first trip to America as a young writer for the Serbian Federation,
Stijacic had been surprised to find in the Chicago Public Library, a book
of poems, the author of which was the popular Serbian poet, Zmaj-Jovan.
The translator was Nikola Tesla. Later, when Stijacic was taken by
Dr. Rado to meet the inventor in his offices on the twentieth floor
of the Metropolitan Tower, he said, "Mr. Tesla, I did not know that
you were interested in poetry."
A look of wry amusement shone in the inventor's eyes. "There are many
of us Serbs who sing," he said, "but there is nobody to listen
Adopted from "Tesla: man out of time", by Margaret Cheney, 1981.
``I had two old aunts with wrinkled faces, one of them having two teeth
protruding like the tusks of an elephant which she buried in my cheek
every time she kissed me. Nothing would scare me more than the prospect
of being hugged by these as affectionate as unattractive relatives.
It happened that while being carried in my mother's arms they asked me who
was the prettier of the two. After examining their faces intently, I
answered thoughtfully, pointing to one of them, "This here is not
as ugly as the other."''
"My Inventions: the autobiography of Nikola Tesla", Hart Bros.,
1982. Originally appeared in the Electrical experimenter magazine in 1919.
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