The following morning, the seeker, who was staying at the Waldorf, was awakened by a pecking at his window. When he opened the shade to take a look, a white dove flew in and settled on his web-linked cellular. The bird cocked his head and cooed. Stepping on the power button before he took flight, the bird sailed back out the window and banked out of sight. The seeker looked down at his liquid crystal display. "Meet me at 2 & 60," was all it said.
In a hurry to get dressed, the seeker grabbed a piece of toast, a cup of coffee and hailed a cab. Stepping out at the specified location, he looked up to the great 59th Street Bridge which loomed overhead. As he walked over to study its bulkhead, he heard a strange rattling at a steel doorway which lay embedded in its massive base.
"Come, come," the wizard motioned as the door creaked open. The visitor entered a darkened vestibule. As his eyes became adjusted, the man followed the old figure to another doorway which emanated in an eerie purple glow.
Whirring noises and snapping sounds crackled from the room as the man with the coveralls appeared and ushered them in.
"Czito," the wizard said. "This is Seeker."
They shook hands, Czito's grip firm and engulfing.
The seeker stared about the room at the myriad coils, strange devices, peculiar gears, globes that encased small lightning storms, long-tubed instruments and other spinning machinery.
"This looks like a good spot," the wizard said, taking his interviewer to a windowed alcove that overlooked the boat traffic by the river.
Seeker: Yesterday you spoke about inventions that are ahead of their time. Can you give us any modern examples?
Tesla: Velcro was patented in the 1950's. The inventor got the idea from those burrs one gets while walking out in fields. He received a mere thousand dollars for the invention, but it didn't take off until years after his patents lapsed. Holography has yet to be used at the level it was intended.
Seeker: And that was?
Tesla: Three-dimensional movies. Essential-ly, the same thing happened with my wireless phone and with wireless communication in general. By the time radio really came into its own, starting in the late1920's, my patents were no longer valid, and so I suffered financially because of it.
Seeker: Didn't the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company compensate you?
Tesla: Meagerly, and only after I threatened suit. I had already given them the patents on the AC polyphase system, the electrical power distribution system that earned them hundreds of millions of dollars, and now they were beginning a new venture, radio broadcasting, all based on other patents which I had offered to them a generation earlier, and at first they tried to stonewall me, but eventually they capitulated and gave me a consulting fee and also took care of my rent at the Hotel New Yorker before I decided to go underground in 1943.
Seeker: It has been stated that your were a celibate. What is your view of women. Do you think a woman could ever be president?
Tesla: I made the decision long ago to devote my life to science. Had I gotten married, and Lord knows, Kate Johnson tried to hitch me, I would never have had the time to devote to my work. The modern woman, who anticipates in merely superficial phenomenon the advancement of her sex, is but a surface symptom of something deeper and more potent fomenting in the bosom of the race. It is not in the shallow physical imitation of the men that women will assert first their equality and later their superiority, but in the awakening of their intellect. As generations ensue, the average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated into an activity that will be all the more intense because of centuries of repose. This tendency is apparently being accelerated as we enter the new century, and so I expect that a competent women will become president before not too long.
Seeker: Do you have any opinion about the situation in Yugoslavia?
Tesla: I'm appalled by the violence and discord. My father was a Serbian minister and we lived, after my brother died, in the town of Gospic in the province of Croatia. I had both Serb and Croat friends and also had buddies who were German, Italian and French as Gospic was a thriving city at that time.
My father was a strong believer in the Yugoslav idea, that is to say, that all Slavs are one. Certain towns and cities became unified enclaves for Croats and Serbs and even Turks, who today are called Bosnians. It was these centers including Durbrovnik and Sarajevo that were bombed by the militant ethnics, because it was their plan to destroy the Yugoslav idea and gain independence for each separate state.
Seeker: Why is there so much hatred among these three people?
Tesla: For different reasons. The Croats and the Serbs are the same people separated by geography and religion. The Croats are Roman Catholic and live in Croatia, along the Adriatic. The Serbs, for the most part, live in Belgrade or in Montenegro in the interior of the country closer to Bulgaria and Romania, and these people are Orthodox Greek Catholics. One main difference in the two religions is that the Roman Catholics adhere to the Pope in Rome, whereas the Orthodox Greeks do not. Their priests, such as my father, are able to marry. There are many other differences between the two groups as well. For instance, through the centuries, the Croats sought to become Westernized, whereas the Serbs were generally frontiersmen, many of whom spent much of their time fighting the Turks who through the Ottoman Empire threatened Europe. The Europeans can never repay the great debt it owes to the Serbs for checking, by the sacrifice of their own liberty that barbarian influx.
In the 1300's, during the Battle of Kossovo, the Serbian kingdom was wiped out by the Ottoman Turks, many of whom moved into Bosnia, and the Serbs have hated the Turks from that day on. So you have three separate factions, each who cannot tolerate the other. Unfortunately, in my own village of Gospic, where a statue of me was placed in a town square named in my honor, the hate between the Croats and Serbs continues. Just within this past decade the statue was blown apart, an old Serbian military man who had lived in the town his entire life was murdered, and the square was renamed for a Croatian hero instead.
Seeker: But isn't much of the ethnic cleansing initiated by Serbs?
Tesla: Barbarians, unfortunately, come in all stripes. I do not condone killing of any kind. One of the underlying reasons for the mass killings has to do with the overpopulation. Bosnians tend to have large families, whereas the Serbs generally have only one or two children. This, of course, is not a reason to....
Seeker: ... even out the playing field?
Tesla: Yes. But it does raise an important issue completely neglected by most of the world leaders and that is the vast overpopulation of the planet. In the following century, we will see eugenics universally established.
Seeker: Population control?
Tesla: Of course. It has already begun in China where we have see families restricted to one child per household. Unfortunately, the opposite trend is evident in America. Not only have we seen the breakdown of the family unit but also a startling rise in single parents and unwanted pregnancies. Having children out of wedlock is undesirable, and in fact, we should go one step further, and make the process of marriage more difficult and impose penalties on those who produce children without the ability to care for them.
Seeker: So you are opposed to the welfare system?
Tesla: The welfare system only exists in this country. But certainly here, it has interfered with the natural process of survival of the fittest which has been set up in the Almighty wisdom of nature to weed out less desirable strains. A governmental body instituted through the United Nations should educate the youth in rigorous fashion, prevent unfit individuals from having children and control population by restricting families to one or two children at most. Monogamous relationships through marriage should be fostered and education about hygiene should be promulgated.
Seeker: There has been some controversy about how your brother died. One recent biography stated that there were rumors that you pushed your brother down a flight of stairs and that is what caused his death.
Tesla: My brother died in an accident with a horse when I was five years old and he was twelve. This rumor was started by a screenplay writer whose name was Arthur Beckhard. It was picked up at my museum in Belgrade and then spread by ignorant writers who were not able to trace to crazy story to its proper source.
Seeker: Thomas Edison ranks first on Life Magazine's 100 People Who Made the Millennium list. You land 57th. Yet, AC polyphase power system is fundamental to our modern age. Why do you think you're repeatedly cast in the background as a great scientist?
Tesla: Can I see that list? [Seeker hands Tesla the list.] So, they have Edison above Galileo, Michael Faraday, Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac Newton? Well, if Life Magazine says so....
I am honored to be in such company. It hasn't always been the case. For instance, in the Smithsonian Book of Invention, published in 1978 and written by the museum curators and other leading experts, although they listed Edison (lightbulb), Ely Whitney (cotton gin), Fulton (steamboat), Goodyear (vulcanized rubber), Ford (automobile), Daguerre (camera), Gould (laser) and Farnsworth (TV camera), my name is nowhere to be found! Considering that I left one of the largest caches of my files at the Smithsonian, I was amazed and insulted.
Seeker: Isn't it possible that your own actions -- talking to Martians, free energy, death rays contributed to damaging your reputation?
Tesla: There is every evidence that there are intelligent forces in the solar system or galaxy. In 1899 I received beated pulsed frequencies which were obvious signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life which I thought might have come from the planet Mars.
Seeker: One recent biographer has suggested that these three pulses came from, dare I say, your competitor Marconi, who was experimenting in transmitting the Morse code for the letter S, namely dot. dot. dot. at the very time that you claimed you received these messages.
Tesla: All poppycock. There is nothing more important than interplanetary communication and I have the equipment for achieving the best results. If this makes me a mad scientist, so be it. You asked before why my name has been obscured, another reason is because numerous individuals simply take my work, adopt it as their own and feel no need to credit the source of their inspiration. Take Steven Spielberg for instance. One of his early achievements is the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The entire premise of that film was adopted right from my article "Talking With the Planets" whereby I stated that it would be through electrical impulses based upon mathematical patterns that communications with extraterrestrials would begin. Did Spielberg give me credit? No! I threatened suit against him and he claimed that because my idea was over 75 years old it was in the public domain and that I didn't have a case, so I dropped it. Another example was John Galt in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. This was a tremendous hit when it came out, and it's still a best seller. The novel starts with the line, "Who is John Galt." Two hundred pages into the book we finally meet Galt, and he's an inventor working on a coil which draws electrical energy from the atmosphere. Don't you think she should have called me or made some overt reference to my work? The same thing goes for David Bowie who played the extraterrestrial in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth. This is another veiled reference to my work, which again, went uncredited. At least James Redfield mentioned me in his newest book on the Celestine Prophecy called the Tenth Insight. My work has always been for the future and I believe that five hundred years from now my achievements will be recognized fairly.
Seeker: Aside from Edison, who were your other great rivals: Steinmetz? Pupin? Marconi?
Tesla: Pupin was more an ignoramus than a rival. He couldn't even speak the native tongue properly. He had sided with Elihu Thomson, who along with Charles Steinmetz were my main rivals in the field of alternating current. Steinmetz and Thomson were working for the company that came to be called General Electric, and they were stuck with the wrong AC patents. So they stole our blueprints and began reverse engineering my induction motor and polyphase design. The scheme was uncovered and they were taken to court. Westinghouse, who owned my patents prevailed. This didn't stop Steinmetz from writing entire textbooks on AC without referencing my name! This tact, of removing my name from my invention was carried on by Pupin, who was teaching electrical engineering at Columbia University at that time. He actually had the audacity to write in his autobiography that the reason why the AC system was put in at Niagara Falls was because of the work of Elihu Thomson, my competitor! Pupin neglected to inform his readers that it is my name that is listed 12 times on the patent placque at Niagara and that it was Nikola Tesla who was invited to speak there as the inventor. I am sorry for him, that is all I can say.
Seeker: And Marconi?
Tesla: I spoke before the Royal Society in London in 1892 when Marconi was a junior in high school. And there, in London, I slept at Sir William Preece's house and spent a weekend with Ambrose Fleming showing each of them all my equipment. A few years later, when Marconi came to England to look for funding, he demonstrated his primitive Hertzian toy which sent dots and dashes across a room or from one building to another and Preece, who was the head of the Post Office and the most well respected electrician in England, took him under his wing. Shortly thereafter, Fleming was called in. Preece wrote to ask me if they could use my oscillators, and naturally I said yes, but Marconi told them he did not need my equipment, and I naively believed that they would continue to use the Hertzian method.
Four years later, in 1901, I read an article by the Italian whereby he said that he used a Tesla coil to produce the oscillations necessary for long distance wireless communication. He also made use of my antenna and ground connection. I wrote Preece of my concern. He tried to talk to Marconi, and all I got was an offer of worthless stock, not capital, which I needed, so I turned the offer down and watched to my horror how Marconi continued to use my apparatus without my permission. Preece was ashamed, quit the company and spent a year in Egypt. But the damage had been done. Marconi used this scheme to transmit his measly Morse code across the Atlantic, and the funding of my wireless project was quickly dropped.
Seeker: What was your view of George Westinghouse?
Tesla: George Westinghouse was a man with tremendous potential energy of which only part had taken kinetic form. Like a lion in the forest, he breathed deep and with delight the smoky air of his Pittsburgh factories. Always affable and polite, he stood in marked contrast to the small-minded financiers I had been trying to negotiate with before I met him. Yet, no fiercer adversary could have been found when aroused. Although impressive in ordinary life, he was transformed into a giant when confronted with difficulties that seemed insurmountable. During the height of the war of the currents, when death row inmates were being electrocuted with our AC system as a PR campaign by the Edison crowd against us, Westinghouse welcomed the struggle and never lost confidence. When others would give up in despair, he triumphed.
Seeker: Were you always on good terms with him?
Tesla: Yes. My troubles with the Westinghouse company had nothing to do with George. They had taken on enormous debt in their fight against General Electric in order to win the right to light the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and Niagara Falls in 1897, and it would be a long time before their company was profitable again. I believe their debt by the late 1890's was nearly one hundred million. That is when some of the small-minded backers of the company wrestled George from the seat of power and made him a titular head instead. It was somewhat remindful of what happened to Stephen Jobs in the late 1980's. Jobs, as we mentioned before, wanted to scrap all of Apple's Apple II computers and switch over entirely to the Macintosh which was their new disk operating system. This meant canning thousands of computers, many of which were in schools so he could convert to a more advanced but untried system. Rather than comply with Jobs request, the board kicked him out of his own company. Abandoned for nearly 10 years, they finally took him back when the company was on the verge of going under, and he brought them back to where they are today. It was a similar thing with Westinghouse, but he was kept on only as a figure head. So when I tried in the early 1900's to get additional funding for my wireless enterprise, they balked and he was powerless. It was really sad to see such an important figure without recourse. He died before his time in 1914, in part, because of this disappointment.
Seeker: When Marconi and RCA were pursuing wireless technology, what were you doing? Why didn't you persist, since technically you got to the wireless arena first?
Tesla: This was during the Great War and shortly thereafter, when the United States was still neutral. I was working with the German concern Telefunken on redesigning their intercontinental equipment. They had two plants, one in New Jersey and one on Long Island, and both were easily communicating across the Atlantic with Berlin in the heart of Germany. Telefunken was paying me $2,000 a month against 5% royalties. Unfortunately, the German situation became intolerable, particularly with the sinking of the Lusitannia, and I broke off all contact with them and lost a considerable fortune. It is very costly to litigate. Most of my patents had lapsed by the time RCA was created in 1920, and I was simply cut out of the deal. I had also shifted my focus to bladeless turbines at that time and was living in Chicago, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. My plans were to create steam engines and turbines to replace the gasoline engine in the car, and also other engines on the airships, submarines, in torpedoes and on ocean liners. I was hoping through the sale of this engine, particularly to Henry Ford, that I would realize the profits I would need to erect a new transmission tower and thereby dwarf the puny technology that was in existence at that time.
Seeker: You mean RCA.
Tesla: Yes, and the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. Had I sold my engine to Ford, I would have moved to the next step and that would be to eliminate almost totally the use of fossil fuels in cars, planes and ships. The wireless towers would provide the power instead. So, that was my plan and that was what I was working on at that time. I also offered the plan to the governmetn with my friend John Flowers, but they also turned it down. It is shameful that at this day and age we are still relying on non-renewable sources of energy like gasoline. My plant at Niagara Falls is a renewable source of clean energy. It is ecologically responsible and environmen-tally sound.
The present needs of our industrial society have not only polluted the air, they have also caused a tear in the ozone layer above the planet. My wireless transmission tower was set up to beam carrier waves into the upper atmosphere. Certainly the system as I designed it could also have been used to transmit ozone and repair this dangerous hole.