martes, 3 de abril de 2012


Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) in his laboratory. Source: Yount Lisa (2012). NIKOLA TESLA: Harnessing Electricity. Chelsea House, New York.

The aging [Nikola] Tesla, still impeccably dressed in his old-fashioned clothing, grew increasingly gaunt as he confined himself to an ever-more-limited diet; in his last years he ate little except warm milk. He moved back to New York fulltime in the mid-1920s and lived in a series of residence hotels, moving from one to another as the manager of each became unwilling to continue postponing the collection of rent.

Some hotels also were less than happy to have Tesla as a guest because of his habit of feeding and caring for the city’s pigeons, which had gone from a hobby to an obsession. Always a night person, the inventor went out around midnight every night to feed the birds near the New York Public Library, Bryant Park, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “These are my sincere friends,” he once told a visitor, according to Margaret Cheney. If a pigeon was injured, he brought it up to his room and took care of it until it could be released. Hotel maids did not appreciate having to clean up the birds’ droppings.

Tesla treasured all his pigeons, but one bird, a white female with a little gray on the tips of her wings, was special. Tesla told John O’Neill and another science journalist, William L. Laurence (1888–1977), “No matter where I was, that pigeon would find me; when I wanted her I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. She understood me and I understood her.”

Indeed, O’Neill wrote in his biography of Tesla, the elderly man went on to make a startling confession:

I loved that pigeon . . . as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. When   she was ill I knew, and understood. . . . That pigeon was the joy of my life. If she needed me, nothing else mattered. As long as I had her, there was a purpose in my life.

Pigeon lives are short compared to those of humans, however, and in time Tesla lost his beloved. His last sight of her was an overwhelmingly strange experience that he recounted to O’Neill:

One night as I was lying in my bed in the dark, . . . she flew in through the open window and stood on my desk. I knew . . . she wanted to tell me something important so I got up and went to her.

As I looked at her I knew she wanted to tell me—she was dying. And then, as I got her message, there came a light from her eyes—powerful beams of light. . .

It was a real light, a powerful, dazzling blinding light, a light more intense than I had ever produced by the most powerful lamps in my laboratory.


         “When that pigeon died, something went out of my life,” Tesla concluded. “Up to that time I knew with a certainty that I would complete my work, no matter how ambitious my program, but . . . [then] I knew my life’s work was finished.”

Original source:

Yount Lisa (2012). NIKOLA TESLA: Harnessing Electricity. Chelsea House, New York. 128 p. (Extracted from pp. 87-89)

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario