Tesla’s Pigeon: A Love Story

On February 20, 2015 by Louis Falasha

Nikola Tesla Pigeon

“Yes, I loved that pigeon, I loved her as a man loves a woman, and she loved me.”

– Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla, born in 1856, was for modern science what Sir Isaac Newton was for The Renaissance. Debatably the most influential polymath the planet has seen in the past 150 years. Inventor, engineer and futurist, contributing to the design of the modern alternating (AC) electrical supply system. An all round smarty pants.

Born in Serbia, he studied telephony and engineering. Truly ahead of his time, Tesla was bang into phones and was the first to prove wireless communication was possible. He moved to New York in 1884 to work with Thomas Edison.

Over the years, he did loads of highly significant stuff for science, messing around with X-rays, radios and even claiming to have invented a death ray. The resurgence in interest Tesla since the 1990s surrounds the infamous Tesla’s Coil — that cool looking sphere or box containing magical lightning that connects with the hand that touches it.

Nikola Tesla Pigeon - coil
Tesla coil in terrarium (I)” by Daniel GrohmannOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I was at a rave about ten years ago and there were a couple 6 foot Tesla Coils there. I brocked next to them for about eleven hours and have never been the same since. Maybe Tesla isn’t solely to blame/thank for that.

Nikola Tesla was celibate for the majority of his adult life. He once said:

“I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.”

He reportedly thought that sex would hinder his scientific work. Although toward the end of his spectacular life, Tesla did find true love, with a pigeon.

Nikola Tesla Pigeon - love
Rock Pigeon Columba livia” by Muhammad Mahdi Karim FacebookThe making of this document was supported by Wikimedia CH

History Collection on LAZERHORSE.ORG

Mr Tesla lived in the Hotel New Yorker, so Pigeon (I don’t know what he named her) must’ve been the average New York street kind. Standards obviously diminish after 86 years of celibacy and constant exposure to electricity, magnets and death rays. Tesla referred to his beau as a female. It would’ve been pretty funny to see how he came to prove that to himself.

I’m not sure how long this union lasted, but Pigeon would visit Tesla everyday and he would feed and nurture her. He believed this bond to be unbreakable and was convinced they communicated. One day she flew into his hotel room and he knew she was going to die.

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

Tesla himself died soon after Pigeon. He died of a broken heart.

Tesla probably saw Pigeon as a symbol of his life’s work and ultimately where he projected the love he had for everything he’d lived for. He’d also possibly gone a bit nuts.

Still, it’s fun to imagine the scenario, Tesla in his high-rise New York hotel room, Pigeon, coyly cooing and wooing him from the windowsill.






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