October 2003

A Conscious Evolution Newsletter

 

 

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Articles:

The Community Co-op Opens This Month!

A New Approach to Chart Interpretation, Part 3

Vedic Star-way of Heaven, Part 3

One Plus One (fiction)

Features:

Book Review: Tesla: Man Out of Time

October Star Watch

Conscious Community

October Interactive Calendar

Contributors:

Newsletter Committee, Writers & Contact Info.

More:

Metamorphosis Index of All Articles

Volume 2, No. 10

Opinions presented in Metamorphosis are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others associated with the newsletter.

 

Book Review:
Tesla: Man Out of Time, by Margaret Cheney

reviewed by Maria Barron
 

Prolific inventor Nikola Tesla was a huge star, not only in the scientific world but also in the popular press, during the flashy, world-changing era when the 19th century turned to the 20th. Some of his inventions, specifically those he patented as part of a
far-reaching dream for enabling instant worldwide communication, form the basis of the computer technology that has come to fruition a century later in, of all things, a method for instant worldwide communication. Home computers and the Internet are different vehicles than he imagined, but when modern-day inventors sought patents for the combination of technologies underlying computers, they kept finding those patents were already issued - to Tesla.

This eccentric and somewhat reclusive celebrity scientist had a name as big as Thomas Edison’s at the time, when the two were sometimes working together and sometimes in competition. Oddly, Tesla descended into such obscurity during the automated age he helped to bring about that the strange reality is many readers of popular literature had never even heard of him until Linda Goodman’s Star Signs brought him to our attention.

Yet, Linda was not alone in wanting to give Tesla his due. Others also have worked to restore the lustrous reputation of the inventor who lived from 1856-1943 and who dreamed of transmitting electrical power worldwide, cheaply, abundantly and without wires, from a special tower to any building with an antenna. In light of the increasing interest, Simon & Schuster republished Margaret Cheney’s 1981 biography, Tesla: Man Out of Time, in 2001 under its Touchstone imprimatur.

Readers without a strong interest in the technical aspects of electrical science will find a few passages where their eyes glaze over, but readers who first met Tesla through Linda Goodman’s Star Signs might be tickled to find a few unexpected similarities between the books. For instance, while there is no separate chapter on numerology in the Tesla biography, the author does note Tesla’s “preference” for numbers divisible by three. Perhaps not in his science, but in his personal life, whenever he had discretion in choosing “how many” items - like hotel towels - to order, he would order in multiples of three.

His great passions, however, were limited to two: electricity and poetry. If he had a love life, he didn’t let on. The dapper Serbian immigrant to the United States, who partied in the highest of social circles among millionaire financiers and famous artists and writers, may have been secretly gay, Cheney suggests. Or perhaps he simply couldn’t be distracted by matters of the heart, obsessed as he was with chasing the electrical dreams and visions that came to him in bright flashes of light - many more ideas than he could ever follow through on and bring into useable form.

By mid-life, Tesla had realized that he was ahead of his time; that people were not ready to do anything with many of the forms of power he wanted to give them. He lamented the situation but also comforted himself with the notion of going to join the classical geniuses in the corner of heaven reserved for great minds. As he wrote to a friend:

“Luka, I see every day that we are both too far ahead of our time! My system of wireless telegraph is buried in the transactions of a scientific society, and your great poem on the heroes of Manila did not even as much as save Montojo, and just as my enemies maintain that I am merely writing ideas of others, so yours will say that it is because of your poem that Montojo was condemned!

“But we shall continue in our noble efforts, my friend, not minding the bad and foolish world, and sometime ... I shall be explaining the principles of my intelligent machine (which will have done away with guns and battleships) to Archimedes, and you will read your great poems to Homer.”

In this biography, Cheney seeks to provide a more personal portrait of Tesla than had been available before. She largely fulfills that goal, while also relating vivid descriptions of the times and an adequate sense of the major players - including the all-important financiers - involved in the era that introduced automation to the world.

Tesla invented the process through which electrical power, in the form of alternating current (AC) has been delivered to homes and businesses ever since. Yet Edison, who fought against AC in a losing battle to make his own generators of direct current (DC) the unchallenged standard, is generally and somewhat erroneously credited with bringing electricity to the masses. Reading Tesla: Man Out of Time at the very least makes one aware whom to thank while flipping a switch on the way into the bathroom late at night.

And if household illumination happens to have been brought to you by a man who spent his own nights pondering how to split the Earth in two through manipulations of the planet’s natural vibrational cycle, a man who moved from New York to Colorado Springs to create huge indoor electrical storms, complete with thunder, inside an oddly shaped, custom-built lab ... well, I guess that’s genius for you.