by Nikola Tesla
by Curtis Cooperman
14 April 2012
They were rivals, to a certain extent, in the battle between the alternating and direct current in which Tesla championed the former. He won; the great power plants at Niagara Falls and elsewhere are founded on the Tesla system.
Otherwise the two men were merely opposites.
Edison had a genius for practical inventions immediately applicable. Tesla, whose inventions were far ahead of the time, aroused antagonisms which delayed the fruition of his ideas for years.
FORECASTING is perilous. No man can look very far into the future.
Progress and invention evolve in directions other than those anticipated. Such has been my experience, although I may flatter myself that many of the developments which I forecast have been verified by events in the first third of the twentieth century.
One of my most important discoveries - terrestrial resonance - which is the foundation of wireless power transmission and which I announced in 1899, is not understood even today. Nearly two years after I had flashed an electric current around the globe, Edison, Steinmetz, Marconi, and others declared that it would not be possible to transmit even signals by wireless across the Atlantic.
Having anticipated so many important developments, it is not without assurance that I attempt to predict what life is likely to be in the twenty-first century.
Man, in the large, is a mass urged on by a force. Hence the general laws governing movement in the realm of mechanics are applicable to humanity.
The first method increases food and well-being. The second tends to bring peace. The third enhances our ability to work and to achieve.
There can be no progress that is not constantly directed toward increasing well-being, peace, and achievement. Here the mechanistic conception of life is one with the teachings of Buddha and the Sermon on the Mount.
To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without.
Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call "soul " or "spirit," is nothing more than the sum of the functioning of the body.
When this functioning ceases, the "soul" or the "spirit" ceases likewise.
Today Buddhism and Christianity are the greatest religions both in number of disciples and in importance. I believe that the essence of both will be the religion of the human race in the twenty-first century.
The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct. Several European countries and a number of states of the American Union sterilize the criminal and the insane.
This is not sufficient. The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult.
Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.
The pollution of our beaches such as exists today around New York City will seem as unthinkable to our children and grandchildren as life without plumbing seems to us.
Our water supply will be far more carefully supervised, and only a lunatic will drink unsterilized water.
Alcohol, however, will still be used. It is not a stimulant but a veritable elixir of life. The abolition of stimulants will not come about forcibly. It will simply be no longer fashionable to poison the system with harmful ingredients.
Bernar Macfadden has shown how it is possible to provide palatable food based upon natural products such as milk, honey, and wheat. I believe that the food which is served today in his penny restaurants will be the basis of epicurean meals in the smartest banquet halls of the twenty-first century.
I developed a process for this purpose in 1900. It was perfected fourteen years later under the stress of war by German chemists.
The struggle for existence being
lessened, there should be development along ideal rather than
Today the most civilized countries of the world spend a maximum of their income on war and a minimum on education. The twenty-first century will reverse this order. It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle.
The discovery of a new scientific truth will be more important than the squabbles of diplomats.
Even the newspapers of our own day are beginning to treat scientific discoveries and the creation of fresh philosophical concepts as news. The newspapers of the twenty-first century will give a mere "stick" in the back pages to accounts of crime or political controversies, but will headline on the front pages the proclamation of a new scientific hypothesis.
Like other inventors, I believed at one time that war could he stopped by making it more destructive. But I found that I was mistaken. I underestimated man's combative instinct, which it will take more than a century to breed out. We cannot abolish war by outlawing it. We cannot end it by disarming the strong.
War can be stopped, not by making the strong weak but by making every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself.
If it is adopted, it will revolutionize the relations between nations. It will make any country, large or small, impregnable against armies, airplanes, and other means for attack.
My invention requires a large plant, but once it is established it will he possible to destroy anything, men or machines, approaching within a radius of 200 miles. It will, so to speak, provide a wall of power offering an insuperable obstacle against any effective aggression.
My discovery ends the menace of airplanes or submarines, but it insures the supremacy of the battleship, because battleships may be provided with some of the required equipment. There might still be war at sea, but no warship could successfully attack the shore line, as the coast equipment will be superior to the armament of any battleship.
All the energy of New York City (approximately two million horsepower) transformed into rays and projected twenty miles, could not kill a human being, because, according to a well known law of physics, it would disperse to such an extent as to be ineffectual.
Many thousands of horsepower can thus be transmitted by a stream thinner than a hair, so that nothing can resist. (see 'Method and Apparatus for Altering a Region in the Earth's Atmosphere, Ionosphere, and/or Magnetosphere - United States Patent 4,686,605')
This wonderful feature will make it possible, among other things, to achieve undreamed-of results in television, for there will be almost no limit to the intensity of illumination, the size of the picture, or distance of projection.
At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a "thinking machine." I anticipated this development.
There is no reason at all why most of this should not come to pass in less than a century, freeing mankind to pursue its higher aspirations.