Nikola Tesla Quotes 47 Sourced Quotes

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a physicist, inventor, and electrical engineer. An ethnic Serb born in the Military Frontier (present-day Croatia), he was a subject of the Austrian Empire who later became an American citizen.

Here are 47 real Nikola Tesla quotes ordered by their popularity online. The most quoted quotes on the web appear first. Questionable and fake quotes are excluded. Sources and related information are shown after each quote. We hope you find these quotes useful. If there is anything we can do to improve this article, your feedback is welcome. If you find these quotes helpful, please share them.

1. “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success … Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: Quoted in Marconi and Tesla: Pioneers of Radio Communication (2008) by Tim O'Shei, ISBN 159845076X , p. 5

2. “Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "Radio Power Will Revolutionize the World" in Modern Mechanics and Inventions (July 1934)

3. “I have harnessed the cosmic rays and caused them to operate a motive device.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: Brooklyn Eagle (10 July 1931)

4. “When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "When woman is boss", Colliers, January 30, 1926

5. “I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: New York Herald Tribune (11 September 1932)

6. “Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy. with Special Reference to Harvesting the Sun's Energy", Century Illustrated Magazine (June 1900)

7. “The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter — for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. He lives and labors and hopes.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "Radio Power Will Revolutionize the World" in Modern Mechanics and Inventions (July 1934)

8. “Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: On patent controversies regarding the invention of Radio and other things, as quoted in "A Visit to Nikola Tesla" by Dragislav L. Petković in Politika (April 1927); as quoted in Tesla, Master of Lightning (1999) by Margaret Cheney, Robert Uth, and Jim Glenn, p. 73 ISBN 0760710058 ; also in Tesla: Man Out of Time (2001) by Margaret Cheney, p. 230 ISBN 0743215362

9. “If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. … I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: New York Times (19 October 1931)

10. “Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: On being informed that Marconi was transmitting wireless messages across the Atlantic Ocean, as quoted in "Who Invented Radio?" at PBS.org, and in Tesla : The Modern Sorcerer (1999) by Daniel Blair Stewart, p. 371

11. “But the female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded; 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 to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose. Woman will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "When woman is boss", Colliers, January 30, 1926

12. “A point of great importance would be first to know: what is the capacity of the earth? And what charge does it contain if electrified? Though we have no positive evidence of a charged body existing in space without other oppositely electrified bodies being near, there is a fair probability that the earth is such a body, for by whatever process it was separated from other bodies — and this is the accepted view of its origin — it must have retained a charge, as occurs in all processes of mechanical separation.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "Experiments With Alternating Currents of Very High Frequency, and Their Application to Methods of Artificial Illumination" (20 May 1891)

13. “Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: As quoted in "A Visit to Nikola Tesla" by Dragislav L. Petković in Politika (April 1927); also in Tesla, Master of Lightning (1999) by Margaret Cheney, Robert Uth, and Jim Glenn, p. 82

14. “Einstein's relativity work is a magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king... its exponents are brilliant men but they are metaphysicists rather than scientists.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: New York Times (11 July 1935), p. 23, c.8

15. “A state of human life vaguely defined by the term ‘Universal Peace,’ while a result of cumulative effort through centuries past, might come into existence quickly, not unlike a crystal suddenly forms in a solution which has been slowly prepared. But just as no effect can precede its cause, so this state can never be brought on by any pact between nations, however solemn. Experience is made before the law is formulated, both are related like cause and effect. So long as we are clearly conscious of the expectation, that peace is to result from such a parliamentary decision, so long have we a conclusive evidence that we are not fit for peace. Only then when we shall feel that such international meetings are mere formal procedures, unnecessary except in so far as they might serve to give definite expression to a common desire, will peace be assured. To judge from current events we must be, as yet, very distant from that blissful goal. It is true that we are proceeding towards it rapidly. There are abundant signs of this progress everywhere. The race enmities and prejudices are decidedly waning.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

16. “I am credited with being one of the hardest workers and perhaps I am, if thought is the equivalent of labour, for I have devoted to it almost all of my waking hours. But if work is interpreted to be a definite performance in a specified time according to a rigid rule, then I may be the worst of idlers. Every effort under compulsion demands a sacrifice of life-energy. I never paid such a price. On the contrary, I have thrived on my thoughts.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

17. “Man's new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. 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. 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.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: As quoted in "A Machine to End War - A Famous Inventor, Picturing Life 100 Years from Now, Reveals an Astounding Scientific Venture Which He Believes Will Change the Course of History" by George Sylvester Viereck in Liberty (February 1937)

18. “Miss! Never trust a Jew!”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: To a secretary, as quoted in Tesla: Man Out of Time (1998) by Margaret Cheney, ISBN 0743215362 , p. 165 (footnote)

19. “General disarmament being for the present entirely out of question, a proportionate reduction might be recommended. The safety of any country and of the world's commerce depending not on the absolute, but relative amount of war material, this would be evidently the first reasonable step to take towards universal economy and peace. But it would be a hopeless task to establish an equitable basis of adjustment. Population, naval strength, force of army, commercial importance, water-power, or any other natural resource, actual or prospective, are equally unsatisfactory standards to consider.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

20. “To conquer by sheer force is becoming harder and harder every day. Defensive is getting continuously the advantage of offensive, as we progress in the satanic science of destruction. The new art of controlling electrically the movements and operations of individualized automata at a distance without wires, will soon enable any country to render its coasts impregnable against all naval attacks.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

21. “Within a few years a simple and inexpensive device, readily carried about, will enable one to receive on land or sea the principal news, to hear a speech, a lecture, a song or play of a musical instrument, conveyed from any other region of the globe. The invention will also meet the crying need for cheap transmission to great distances, more especially over the oceans. The small working capacity of the cables and the excessive cost of messages are now fatal impediments in the dissemination of intelligence which can only be removed by transmission without wires.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

22. “The ideal solution of the problem of transportation will be arrived at only when the complete annihilation of distance in the transmission of power in large amounts shall have become a commercial reality. That day we shall invade the domain of the bird. When the vexing problem of aerial navigation, which has defied his attempts for ages, is solved, man will advance with giant strides.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

23. “That electrical energy can be economically transmitted without wires to any terrestrial distance, I have unmistakably established in numerous observations, experiments and measurements, qualitative and quantitative. These have demonstrated that is practicable to distribute power from a central plant in unlimited amounts, with a loss not exceeding a small fraction of one per cent, in the transmission, even to the greatest distance, twelve thousand miles — to the opposite end of the globe.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

24. “It should be borne in mind that electrical energy obtained by harnessing a waterfall is probably fifty times more effective than fuel energy. Since this is the most perfect way of rendering the sun's energy available, the direction of the future material development of man is clearly indicated.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

25. “When a child is born its sense-organs are brought in contact with the outer world. The waves of sound, heat, and light beat upon its feeble body, its sensitive nerve-fibres quiver, the muscles contract and relax in obedience: a gasp, a breath, and in this act a marvelous little engine, of inconceivable delicacy and complexity of construction, unlike any on earth, is hitched to the wheel-work of the Universe.'''”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: Man's Greatest Achievement (1908; 1930): Variant 1 : An early version of this essay as quoted by Tesla in a letter (dated 19 April 1908) published in The New York Times (21 April 1908)

26. “When I understood the task, it was not with a resolve such as men often make. With me it was a sacred vow, a question of life and death. I knew that I would perish if I failed. Now I felt that the battle was won. Back in the deep recesses of the brain was the solution, but I could net yet give it outward expression.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

27. “My brain is only a receiver. In the universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: Wikiquote: "Nikola Tesla" (Attributed to Tesla)

28. “Alternate currents, especially of high frequencies, pass with astonishing freedom through even slightly rarefied gases. The upper strata of the air are rarefied. To reach a number of miles out into space requires the overcoming of difficulties of a merely mechanical nature.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency" an address to the Institution of Electrical Engineers, London (February 1892)

29. “There is something within me that might be illusion as it is often case with young delighted people, but if I would be fortunate to achieve some of my ideals, it would be on the behalf of the whole of humanity. If those hopes would become fulfilled, the most exciting thought would be that it is a deed of a Serb.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: Address at the Belgrade train station (1 June 1892)

30. “We begin to think cosmically. Our sympathetic feelers reach out into the dim distance. The bacteria of the ‘Weltschmerz,’ are upon us. So far, however, universal harmony has been attained only in a single sphere of international relationship. That is the postal service. Its mechanism is working satisfactorily, but — how remote are we still from that scrupulous respect of the sanctity of the mail bag! And how much farther again is the next milestone on the road to peace — an international judicial service equally reliable as the postal!”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

31. “I have obtained... spark discharges extending through more than one hundred feet and carrying currents of one thousand amperes, electromotive forces approximating twenty million volts, chemically active streamers covering areas of several thousand square feet, and electrical disturbances in the natural media surpassing those caused by lightning, in intensity. Whatever the future may bring, the universal application of these great principles is fully assured, though it may be long in coming. With the opening of the first power plant, incredulity will give way to wonderment, and this to ingratitude, as ever before.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

32. “Our first endeavors are purely instinctive prompting of an imagination vivid and undisciplined. As we grow older reason asserts itself and we become more and more systematic and designing. But those early impulses, though not immediately productive, are of the greatest moment and may shape our very destinies. Indeed, I feel now that had I understood and cultivated instead of suppressing them, I would have added substantial value to my bequest to the world. But not until I had attained manhood did I realize that I was an inventor.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

33. “I feel convinced that my preservation was not altogether accidental, but was indeed the work of divine power. An inventor's endeavor is essentially life saving. Whether he harnesses forces, improves devices, or provides new comforts and conveniences, he is adding to the safety of our existence. He is also better qualified than the average individual to protect himself in peril, for he is observant and resourceful.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

34. “In one of the sinking spells [due to Cholera] which was thought to be the last, my father rushed into the room. I still see his pallid face as he tried to cheer me in tones belying his assurance. ‘Perhaps,’ I said, ‘I may get well if you will let me study engineering.’ ‘You will go to the best technical institution in the world,’ he solemnly replied, and I knew that he meant it. A heavy weight was lifted from my mind.… I came to life like Lazarus to the utter amazement of everybody.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

35. “Up to that time I never realized that I possessed any particular gift of discovery, but Lord Rayleigh, whom I always considered as an ideal man of science, had said so and if that was the case, I felt that I should concentrate on some big idea.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919) After Lord Rayleigh's praise of Tesla at the Royal Institution, London, 1892

36. “He had the highest regard for my attainments and gave me every evidence of his complete faith in my ability to ultimately achieve what I had set out to do. I am unwilling to accord to some small−minded and jealous individuals the satisfaction of having thwarted my efforts. These men are to me nothing more than microbes of a nasty disease. My project was retarded by laws of nature. The world was not prepared for it. It was too far ahead of time, but the same laws will prevail in the end and make it a triumphal success.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919) About the role of J. Pierpont Morgan, and the failure of Tesla's "World System" project Chapter 6 : The Magnifying Transmitter

37. “We crave for new sensations but soon become indifferent to them. The wonders of yesterday are today common occurrences.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

38. “While I am not a believer in the orthodox sense, I commend religion, first, because every individual should have some ideal — religious, artistic, scientific, or humanitarian — to give significance to his life. Second, because all the great religions contain wise prescriptions relating to the conduct of life, which hold good now as they did when they were promulgated.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Machine to End War (1937): "Machine to End War by Nikola Tesla as told to George Sylvester Viereck" in Liberty, (February 1937)

39. “The scientists from Franklin to Morse were clear thinkers and did not produce erroneous theories. The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: "Radio Power Will Revolutionize the World" in Modern Mechanics and Inventions (July 1934)

40. “I am equally proud of my Serbian origin and Croatian homeland.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: [http://predsjednik.hr/Default.aspx?art=12900&sec=810 In response telegram to the President of HSS (Croatian Peasant Party), Vladko Maček (June 1936)

41. “These creatures were remarkably efficient, for once they were started they had no sense to stop and continued whirling for hours and hours....All went well until a strange boy came to the place. He was the son of a retired officer in the Austrian Army. That urchin ate May-bugs alive and enjoyed them as tho [sic] they were the finest blue-point oysters. That disgusting site terminated my endeavors in this promising field and I have never since been able to touch a May-bug or any other insect for that matter.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions by Nikola Tesla, ISBN 978-1614270843 , p. 45

42. “Universal Peace, assuming it to be in the fullest sense realizable, might not require eons for its accomplishment, however probable this may appear, judging from the imperceptibly slow growth of all great reformatory ideas of the past. … Our accepted estimates of the duration of natural metamorphoses, or changes in general, have been thrown in doubt of late. The very foundations of science have been shaken.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: A Means for Furthering Peace (1905): "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

43. “To create and to annihilate material substance, cause it to aggregate in forms according to his desire, would be the supreme manifestation of the power of Man's mind, his most complete triumph over the physical world, his crowning achievement, which would place him beside his Creator, make him fulfill his Ultimate Destiny.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: Man's Greatest Achievement (1908; 1930): Variant 1 : An early version of this essay as quoted by Tesla in a letter (dated 19 April 1908) published in The New York Times (21 April 1908)

44. “Of all things I liked books best. My father had a large library and whenever I could manage I tried to satisfy my passion for reading. He did not permit it and would fly in a rage when he caught me in the act. He hid the candles when he found that I was reading in secret. He did not want me to spoil my eyes. But I obtained tallow, made the wicking and cast the sticks into tin forms, and every night I would bush the keyhole and the cracks and read, often till dawn. Chapter 2 : Extraordinary Experiences”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

45. “He declared that it could not be done and did me the honor of delivering a lecture on the subject, at the conclusion he remarked, ‘Mr. Tesla may accomplish great things, but he certainly will never do this. It would be equivalent to converting a steadily pulling force, like that of gravity into a rotary effort. It is a perpetual motion scheme, an impossible idea.’ But instinct is something which transcends knowledge. We have, undoubtedly, certain finer fibers that enable us to perceive truths when logical deduction, or any other willful effort of the brain, is futile.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

46. “It would be calamitous, indeed, if at this time when the art is in its infancy and the vast majority, not excepting even experts, have no conception of its ultimate possibilities, a measure would be rushed through the legislature making it a government monopoly. …universal evidence unmistakably shows that the best results are always obtained in healthful commercial competition.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: My Inventions (1919)

47. “I am proud of my Serbian origin and my Croatian homeland.”

—Nikola Tesla

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Source: Wikiquote: "Nikola Tesla" (Attributed to Tesla)

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