第一章 回目錄 ▲ 第三章

 

My Inventions
尼古拉.特斯拉回憶錄(我的創作生涯)

II. My First Efforts At Invention
第二章 我早期的發明嘗試

I shall dwell briefly on these extraordinary experiences, on account of their possible interest to students of psychology and physiology and also because this period of agony was of the greatest consequence on my mental development and subsequent labors. But it is indispensable to first relate the circumstances and conditions which preceded them and in which might be found their partial explanation. 

我將簡要講述一下這些奇特的經歷,因為它們可能引起心理學生理學研究人員的興趣,也因為這一痛苦時期對我的心智發展和以後的工作具有極為重要的意義 。但是,首先我應該敘述一下此前的環境及情況,或許我們可以從中發現關於這些經歷的部分原因。

From childhood I was compelled to concentrate attention upon myself. This caused me much suffering but, to my present view, it was a blessing in disguise for it has taught me to appreciate the inestimable value of introspection in the preservation of life, as well as a means of achievement. The pressure of occupation and the incessant stream of impressions pouring into our consciousness thru all the gateways of knowledge make modern existence hazardous in many ways. Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves. 

從孩提時期,父母就強迫我要注重自省 這給我帶來了很多痛苦,但父母認為這是一種先苦後甜的訓練他們認為,這種訓練可以讓我認識到自省對於人生的無上價值,同時自省也是獲得成功的手段。職業壓力和通過各種知識管道源源不斷地湧進我們大腦的各種外界印象,使現代社會在很多方面對我們具有危害性。大多數人過分關注對外部世界的思考,完全忽略了自己內心正在進行的活動

The premature death of millions is primarily traceable to this cause. Even among those who exercise care it is a common mistake to avoid imaginary, and ignore the real dangers. And what is true of an individual also applies, more or less, to a people as a whole.

數以百萬計的人之所以過早去世,其根本原因就在於此 即便在那些懂得養生的人當中,也存在著一個普遍錯誤,他們逃避想像,忽視真正的危險。這說法適用於個人,或多或少也適用於所有人。

Witness, in illustration, the prohibition movement. A drastic, if not unconstitutional, measure is now being put thru in this country to prevent the consumption of alcohol and yet it is a positive fact that coffee, tea, tobacco, chewing gum and other stimulants, which are freely indulged in even at the tender age, are vastly more injurious to the national body, judging from the number of those who succumb. So, for instance, during my student years I gathered from the published necrologues in Vienna, the home of coffee drinkers, that deaths from heart trouble sometimes reached sixty-seven per cent of the total. Similar observations might probably be made in cities where the consumption of tea is excessive.

舉例來說,禁酒運動就是證明。在這個國家,只要不違反憲法,目前已通過一項嚴厲的的措施來制止酒精的消費。雖然從受其影響者的數目來看,咖啡、茶、煙草、口香糖和其他興奮劑,過度沉溺其中,甚至在年幼時使用,對國家整體而言,確是受害不淺。舉例來說,就像我在學生時期收集到來自維也納的醫療報告統計,喝咖啡的人,因心臟病變死亡的人數,往往占該病變死亡總數的 67% ,而類似的統計也可能在過度消費茶飲料的城市中出現。

These delicious beverages superexcite and gradually exhaust the fine fibers of the brain. They also interfere seriously with arterial circulation and should be enjoyed all the more sparingly as their deleterious effects are slow and imperceptible. Tobacco, on the other hand, is conducive to easy and pleasant thinking and detracts from the intensity and concentration necessary to all original and vigorous effort of the intellect. Chewing gum is helpful for a short while but soon drains the glandular system and inflicts irreparable damage, not to speak of the revulsion it creates.

這些美好的飲品,會過度刺激並逐漸耗盡大腦的細緻纖維組織,還會嚴重干擾動脈的血液循環,因此應該適量享用而使其減少並不致造成有害的影響。另一方面,煙草有利於放鬆與愉快的思維,並可降低過度使用腦力所造成的損傷。嚼口香糖則可快速釋放腺體系統並有利於減緩衝擊所造成無法彌補的傷害。

Alcohol in small quantities is an excellent tonic, but is toxic in its action when absorbed in larger amounts, quite immaterial as to whether it is taken in as whiskey or produced in the stomach from sugar. But it should not be overlooked that all these are great eliminators assisting Nature, as they do, in upholding her stern but just law of the survival of the fittest. Eager reformers should also be mindful of the eternal perversity of mankind which makes the indifferent "laissez-faire" by far preferable to enforced restraint. 

少量的酒精是一種優良的滋補品 但飲用過量時,不論是酒精還是在胃中的糖份所產生影響對行動是有危害的但我們不應該忽略的是,這些都是協助大自然的偉大清除器,像他們這樣做,是在堅持 適者生存 嚴峻而公正的法則 急切的改革者也應要記住:總是自以為是的人類,不如讓一切趨向中性的 自由放任 會比強力制止來得更加適當

The truth about this is that we need stimulants to do our best work under present living conditions, and that we must exercise moderation and control our appetites and inclinations in every direction. That is what I have been doing for many years, in this way maintaining myself young in body and mind. Abstinence was not always to my liking but I find ample reward in the agreeable experiences I am now making. Just in the hope of converting some to my precepts and convictions I will recall one or two. 

這方面的事實,就是我們需要在現有生活條件下按照自己的激情作最佳的因應,而也必須在我們興趣與嗜好的每個方面都作適當節制與控制 。多年來我一直以這種方式維持我自己的身體與心智的青春活耀我一向不喜歡禁欲,但我確實從自己正在經歷的以及令人愉快的經驗中得到了豐厚的回報。為了讓一些人接受我的告誡和信念,下面我回憶一下經歷過的一兩件事情。

A short time ago I was returning to my hotel. It was a bitter cold night, the ground slippery, and no taxi to be had. Half a block behind me followed another man, evidently as anxious as myself to get under cover. Suddenly my legs went up in the air. In the same instant there was a flash in my brain, the nerves responded, the muscles contracted, I swung thru 180 degrees and landed on my hands. I resumed my walk as tho nothing had happened when the stranger caught up with me. "How old are you?" he asked, surveying me critically. "Oh, about fifty-nine," I replied. "What of it?" "Well," said he, "I have seen a cat do this but never a man." About a month since I wanted to order new eyeglasses and went to an oculist who put me thru the usual tests. He lookt at me incredulously as I read off with ease the smallest print at considerable distance. But when I told him that I was past sixty he gasped in astonishment. Friends of mine often remark that my suits fit me like gloves but they do not know that all my clothing is made to measurements which were taken nearly 35 years ago and never changed. During this same period my weight has not varied one pound. 

不久前的一個晚上,我正趕往下榻的酒店,天氣異常寒冷,路面濕滑,根本找不到計程車,我只好步行。另外一個男人在我身後不遠的地方跟著,顯然他跟我一樣急切地要趕回住處。突然,我的雙腿同時離開了地面。就在刹那間,我腦子一閃,神經立刻反應而收緊肌肉。我的身體旋轉了 180 度,雙手撐在地上倒立 。然後,我站起來繼續趕路,就像什麼都沒有發生一樣。後面那位陌生人追了上來,非常驚訝地打量著我,問道: 您多大年紀了?
哦,大概五十九歲。 我回答說, 怎麼了?
哇。 他說道, 我見過貓這麼做,但從來還沒見過人也可以這樣
大約一個月之前,我打算訂購一副新眼鏡。於是,我去一位眼科醫生那裡做例行檢查。他十分懷疑地看著我,因為我可以從遠處輕鬆地讀出視力表上最小的標誌。但是,當我告訴他我已經年過六十的時候,他更是張大著嘴驚訝地喘不過氣來。
朋友經常說我的衣服穿起來很合身,就像手套一樣服服帖帖。但是他們不知道,這些衣服都是按我將近 35 年前量的尺寸訂作的,此後我的身材從來沒有改變過。在此期間,我的體重一磅都沒變

In this connection I may tell a funny story. One evening, in the winter of 1885, Mr. Edison, Edward H. Johnson, the President of the Edison Illuminating Company, Mr. Batchellor, Manager of the works, and myself entered a little place opposite 65 Fifth Avenue where the offices of the company were located. Someone suggested guessing weights and I was induced to step on a scale. Edison felt me all over and said: "Tesla weighs 152 lbs. to an ounce," and he guest it exactly. Stript I weighed 142 lbs. and that is still my weight. I whispered to Mr. Johnson: "How is it possible that Edison could guess my weight so closely?" "Well," he said, lowering his voice. "I will tell you, confidentially, but you must not say anything. He was employed for a long time in a Chicago slaughter-house where he weighed thousands of hogs every day! That's why." My friend, the Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, tells of an Englishman on whom he sprung one of his original anecdotes and who listened with a puzzled expression but - a year later - laughed out loud. I will frankly confess it took me longer than that to appreciate Johnson's joke. 

關於這一點,我可以講一個有趣的故事。 1885 年冬天的一個晚上,愛迪生先生( Mr. Edison ),愛迪生照明公司( Edison Illuminating Company )董事長愛德華.H.詹森( Edward H. Johnson )、經理巴特切羅( Batchellor )先生,還有我,一起去位於第五大道 65 號的公司辦事處。其中有人提議互相猜體重,大家叫我站到體重稱上。愛迪生摸了摸我全身,說道: 特斯拉體重 152 磅,精度以一盎司計算。 他猜得非常準確。我那時的淨體重是 142 磅,現在仍然是。於是,我低聲問詹森: 愛迪生能如此精准地猜出我的體重,這怎麼可能?
嗯, 他放低聲音說。 我是相信你才告訴你的啊,你千萬不要講出去。愛迪生在芝加哥屠宰場工作過很長一段時間,他每天都要稱幾千頭肥豬呢。這就是原因。
我的朋友尊敬的昌西.M.迪普( Chauncey M.Dupew )曾經講過一個英國人的故事,他在聽到昌西講述自己早期的趣事時,表情非常疑惑不解,直到一年之後才大笑起來。我必須承認,欣賞詹森說的笑話,我花了更久的時間。現在,我的身心健康完全得益於細緻而有規律的生活方式。

Now, my well being is simply the result of a careful and measured mode of living and perhaps the most astonishing thing is that three times in my youth I was rendered by illness a hopeless physical wreck and given up by physicians. More than this, thru ignorance and lightheartedness, I got into all sorts of difficulties, dangers and scrapes from which I extricated myself as by enchantment. I was almost drowned a dozen times; was nearly boiled alive and just mist being cremated. I was entombed, lost and frozen. I had hair-breadth escapes from mad dogs, hogs, and other wild animals. I past thru dreadful diseases and met with all kinds of odd mishaps and that I am hale and hearty today seems like a miracle. But as I recall these incidents to my mind I feel convinced that my preservation was not altogether accidental. 

然而,或許最令人感到驚訝的是,我少年時期曾經三次病入膏肓。除此之外,我無知無畏和樂觀自信的性格也讓我遭遇了很多困難、危險和窘境,不過後來都有如神助般的解脫。我曾經失蹤,甚至險些被淹死、被活埋、被凍死。我遇到過瘋狗、野豬以及其他很多野獸,也都是死裡逃生。我患過可怕的疾病,遇上過各種古怪的災禍,但至今仍然安然無恙、精神飽滿,這簡直就是個奇跡。不過, 現在回憶起這些經歷,我深信自己的倖存絕非全係偶然

An inventor's endeavor is essentially lifesaving. 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. If I had no other evidence that I was, in a measure, possest of such qualities I would find it in these personal experiences. The reader will be able to judge for himself if I mention one or two instances.

發明家的努力,本質就是在挽救生命。無論是利用能量,改善設備或是為人們提供更加舒適與便利的生活,實際都是在提高人類生活的安全性。與一般人相比,發明家觀察敏銳、足智多謀,更有能力在困境中保護好自己。我沒有其他證據證明自己擁有這種品質,不過我想我的個人經歷可以說明。讀者可以根據我提到的這一兩個實例來判斷是否如此。

On one occasion, when about 14 years old, I wanted to scare some friends who were bathing with me. My plan was to dive under a long floating structure and slip out quietly at the other end. Swimming and diving came to me as naturally as to a duck and I was confident that I could perform the feat. Accordingly I plunged into the water and, when out of view, turned around and proceeded rapidly towards the opposite side. Thinking that I was safely beyond the structure, I rose to the surface but to my dismay struck a beam. Of course, I quickly dived and forged ahead with rapid strokes until my breath was beginning to give out. Rising for the second time, my head came again in contact with a beam. Now I was becoming desperate. However, summoning all my energy, I made a third frantic attempt but the result was the same. The torture of supprest breathing was getting unendurable, my brain was reeling and I felt myself sinking. At that moment, when my situation seemed absolutely hopeless, I experienced one of those flashes of light and the structure above me appeared before my vision. I either discerned or guest that there was a little space between the surface of the water and the boards resting on the beams and, with consciousness nearly gone, I floated up, prest my mouth close to the planks and managed to inhale a little air, unfortunately mingled with a spray of water which nearly choked me. Several times I repeated this procedure as in a dream until my heart, which was racing at a terrible rate, quieted down and I gained composure. After that I made a number of unsuccessful dives, having completely lost the sense of direction, but finally succeeded in getting out of the trap when my friends had already given me up and were fishing for my body. 

十四歲時,有一次我想嚇唬嚇唬一起游泳的朋友。我打算先潛伏在一個長期漂浮的建築物下面,然後悄悄地溜到對面去。我的游泳和潛水技術非常好,像鴨子一樣活動自如,我相信自己完全可以完成這個表演。因此,我縱身跳進了水裡,然後趁大家不注意,調轉方向,迅速朝對面遊了過去。我以為漂浮物是安全的,所以打算站在上面,但令我失望的是,我撞到了建築物上的一根橫樑。於是,我很快潛入水中,快速向前遊去,直到氣喘呼呼。當我第二次露出水面,腦袋又一次碰到了樑木。此時,我絕望了。然而,當我孤注一擲,費勁全身力氣進行第三次嘗試時,結果還是一樣。窒息帶來的痛苦越來越難以忍受,大腦眩暈,身體開始一點點下沉。此時此刻,似乎已經到了絕望的邊緣,我看到了 一道閃光 緊接著頭頂建築物的結構浮現在我的腦海中 也許是親眼看到或者完全出於猜測,我確定水面和放在木梁上的木板之間有一道空隙。於是,在快要失去意識的時候,我從水底浮了上來,把嘴靠在木板上緩口氣。不幸的是,一個浪花打了過來,我差點窒息。此時,我仿佛就像在夢中,幾次嘗試著透氣,直到狂跳的心慢慢平靜,我又恢復了往日的鎮定。接著,我又幾次嘗試潛水,但都沒有成功。我完全失去了方向感,但最後還是成功地逃了出來。那時,我的夥伴們巳經絕望,以為我死了,正在到處打撈我的屍體。

That bathing season was spoiled for me thru recklessness but I soon forgot the lesson and only two years later I fell into a worse predicament. There was a large flour mill with a dam across the river near the city where I was studying at that time. As a rule the height of the water was only two or three inches above the dam and to swim out to it was a sport not very dangerous in which I often indulged. One day I went alone to the river to enjoy myself as usual. When I was a short distance from the masonry, however, I was horrified to observe that the water had risen and was carrying me along swiftly. I tried to get away but it was too late. Luckily, tho, I saved myself from being swept over by taking hold of the wall with both hands. The pressure against my chest was great and I was barely able to keep my head above the surface. Not a soul was in sight and my voice was lost in the roar of the fall. Slowly and gradually I became exhausted and unable to withstand the strain longer. just as I was about to let go, to be dashed against the rocks below, I saw in a flash of light a familiar diagram illustrating the hydraulic principle that the pressure of a fluid in motion is proportionate to the area exposed, and automatically I turned on my left side. As if by magic the pressure was reduced and I found it comparatively easy in that position to resist the force of the stream. But the danger still confronted me. I knew that sooner or later I would be carried down, as it was not possible for any help to reach me in time, even if I attracted attention. I am ambidextrous now but then I was lefthanded and had comparatively little strength in my right arm. For this reason I did not dare to turn on the other side to rest and nothing remained but to slowly push my body along the dam. I had to get away from the mill towards which my face was turned as the current there was much swifter and deeper. It was a long and painful ordeal and I came near to failing at its very end for I was confronted with a depression in the masonry. I managed to get over with the last ounce of my force and fell in a swoon when I reached the bank, where I was found. I had torn virtually all the skin from my left side and it took several weeks before the fever subsided and I was well. These are only two of many instances but they may be sufficient to show that had it not been for the inventor's instinct I would not have lived to tell this tale. 

由於我的魯莽,那次泳季成了一場噩夢。但是,我很快就忘記了這次教訓,僅僅兩年之後,我又有了更糟糕的經歷。
當時在我求學的城市附近有一條河,一座大型麵粉廠的堤壩橫跨在河岸上。通常,壩上的水深只有兩三英寸。所以,在那裡游泳僅僅是一種鍛練,不會有什麼危險,我沉迷於此。一天,我像往常一樣獨自去那裡游泳。當快游到堤壩時,我驚訝地發現河水已經上漲了,湍急的水流將我捲了進去。我想設法從水中逃出來,為時已晚。不過,幸好我雙手緊緊抓住了牆壁,才沒有被水流沖倒。巨大的水壓抵在我的胸口,我的腦袋剛剛露出水面。我看不到一個人,呼救的聲音也被轟鳴的落水聲湮沒。漸漸地,我感到筋疲力盡,沒辦法繼續抓住牆壁。就在快要鬆手沖向下面的岩石的時候,我眼前出現了 一道閃光 ,是一張熟悉的水壓原理示意圖,顯示水流壓力與受力面積成正比 於是我自動將身體轉向左側,就像被施了魔法一樣,我感覺壓力頓時減小,同時發現這樣的姿勢更容易抵抗水流的力量。但是危險依然存在。即便我引起了人們的注意,但是已經沒人能幫助我,我遲早會被水流沖走。現在,我可以靈活運用兩隻手了,但是右手臂已經沒什麼力氣了,只能用左手。鑒於這個原因,我不敢把身體轉向另一側去休息,只能將身體慢慢沿大壩方向移動。我面對著磨坊,我必須改變這種姿勢,因為那裡的水流更急、水也更深。我承受著附近的壓力,快到堤壩盡頭時幾乎徹底失敗,這可真是一場漫長而痛苦的考驗。我用盡了最後一絲力氣挪了過去,當我爬到岸邊時,昏了過去。後來,人們在那裡發現了我。我身體左側的皮膚幾乎全部裂開,過了幾個星期,高燒才慢慢退去,我又奇跡般地康復了。這只是許多實例中的兩件,但是它們足以說明,要不是有發明家的本能,我恐怕就沒辦法活著給你們講這些故事了

Interested people have often asked me how and when I began to invent. This I can only answer from my present recollection in the light of which the first attempt I recall was rather ambitious for it involved the invention of an apparatus and a method. In the former I was anticipated but the latter was original. It happened in this way. One of my playmates had come into the possession of a hook and fishing-tackle which created quite an excitement in the village, and the next morning all started out to catch frogs. I was left alone and deserted owing to a quarrel with this boy. I had never seen a real hook and pictured it as something wonderful, endowed with peculiar qualities, and was despairing not to be one of the party. Urged by necessity, I somehow got hold of a piece of soft iron wire, hammered the end to a sharp point between two stones, bent it into shape, and fastened it to a strong string. I then cut a rod, gathered some bait, and went down to the brook where there were frogs in abundance. But I could not catch any and was almost discouraged when it occurred to me to dangle the empty hook in front of a frog sitting on a stump. At first he collapsed but by and by his eyes bulged out and became bloodshot, he swelled to twice his normal size and made a vicious snap at the hook. Immediately I pulled him up. I tried the same thing again and again and the method proved infallible. When my comrades, who in spite of their fine outfit had caught nothing, came to me they were green with envy. For a long time I kept my secret and enjoyed the monopoly but finally yielded to the spirit of Christmas. Every boy could then do the same and the following summer brought disaster to the frogs. 

對我感興趣的人們總是會問,我是如何以及何時開始發明創造的。我只能根據目前的記憶來回答了。我第一次發明時很是雄心勃勃,其發明既包括裝置,又包括方法。前者已經有人做過了,後者則是我的首創
事情的經過是這樣的。我的一個玩伴得到了一套釣鉤和釣魚用具,當時這在村子裡引起了不小的轟動。第二天早晨,大家都跟著他出去釣青蛙。因為我跟這個男孩子吵了一架,所以他們扔下我一個人走了。我從沒見過真正的釣鉤,所以想像它奇特的質地,精美的式樣,我為自己沒能參加 釣蛙行動 而失望不已 情急之下,不知道從哪裡抓到了一段軟鐵絲,我找來兩塊石頭,把鐵絲的一頭砸成了鋒利的尖狀,然後把它彎曲成形,並固定在一條結實的繩子上。接著,我砍了根杆子,找了些誘餌,沿著小溪走到青蛙密集的地方開始垂釣。但是,我沒有釣到一隻青蛙。
就在快要放棄時,我發現搖搖晃晃的空釣鉤前有隻青蛙正蹲在樹樁上。起初,它看起來萎靡不振,像是生病了。不久,它的雙眼鼓了起來,並且佈滿了血絲,身體漲得有原來的兩倍大,兇猛地撲上來咬住了釣鉤。我立即把它拉上來。我一次又一次重複這種方法,結果屢試不爽。儘管我的夥伴們有精美的工具,但他們什麼都沒有抓到。看到我豐碩的戰果,他們嫉妒極了。很長一段時間,我都一直保守著這個秘密,獨享著這份 專利 ,直到耶誕節才向大家公開。於是,所有的男孩子都知道怎麼做了,結果接下來的那個夏天,村裡的青娃都遭了殃。

In my next attempt I seem to have acted under the first instinctive impulse which later dominated me - to harness the energies of nature to the service of man. I did this thru the medium of May-bugs - or June-bugs as they are called in America - which were a veritable pest in that country and sometimes broke the branches of trees by the sheer weight of their bodies. The bushes were black with them. I would attach as many as four of them to a crosspiece, rotably arranged on a thin spindle, and transmit the motion of the same to a large disc and so derive considerable "power." These creatures were remarkably efficient, for once they were started they had no sense to stop and continued whirling for hours and hours and the hotter it was the harder they worked. 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 they were the finest blue-point oysters. That disgusting sight 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. 

在以後的嘗試中,我似乎是在原始本能的推動下採取行動的,這種本能後來成為我發明創造的主要動力 —— 即利用自然能量為人類服務 。這次嘗試是以五月金龜子,也就是美國人所稱的六月臭蟲為媒介進行的。五月金龜子是真正的害蟲,因為數量極為龐大,它們憑藉群體的重量就能把樹枝壓斷。灌木叢也會被它們染黑。我把四隻臭蟲粘在十字架上,讓十字架在細軸上轉動。之後,我再把它們放到較大的圓盤上轉動,這樣就可以得到相當大的 能量 了。這種動物很能幹,一旦開始就沒打算停下來,它們一小時接一小時不停地旋轉著,身體越熱,工作就會越賣力試驗進展順利,直到一個奇怪的男孩來找我,他是一位奧地利退役軍官的兒子。這個傢伙竟然把臭蟲活吞了,仿佛在吃最美味的藍點牡蠣那樣津津有味這個噁心的情景,使我中止了這個有希望的試驗,從那以後,我就再也不碰五月金龜子或者任何其他昆蟲了

After that, I believe, I undertook to take apart and assemble the clocks of my grandfather. In the former operation I was always successful but often failed in the latter. So it came that he brought my work to a sudden halt in a manner not too delicate and it took thirty years before I tackled another clockwork again. Shortly there after I went into the manufacture of a kind of pop-gun which comprised a hollow tube, a piston, and two plugs of hemp. When firing the gun, the piston was prest against the stomach and the tube was pushed back quickly with both hands. The air between the plugs was comprest and raised to high temperature and one of them was expelled with a loud report. The art consisted in selecting a tube of the proper taper from the hollow stalks. I did very well with that gun but my activities interfered with the window panes in our house and met with painful discouragement. If I remember rightly, I then took to carving swords from pieces of furniture which I could conveniently obtain. At that time I was under the sway of the Serbian national poetry and full of admiration for the feats of the heroes. I used to spend hours in mowing down my enemies in the form of corn-stalks which ruined the crops and netted me several spankings from my mother. Moreover these were not of the formal kind but the genuine article. 

其後,我開始著手拆裝祖父的時鐘。在拆卸階段,我總是很成功,但是組裝時常常以失敗告終。最後,祖父忍無可忍,突然很沒有 風度 地中斷了我的試驗。直到 30 年後,我才開始處理另一隻鐘錶。
此後不久,我開始製造玩具氣槍,它由一支中空的管子、一個活塞及兩個插栓組成。用槍射擊時,活塞沖向槍體腹部,帶有兩個手柄的管子快速後移,兩個插栓之間的空氣受到擠壓,溫度升高,其中的一個插栓就會砰的一聲射出去。這個裝置的關鍵在於選擇具有合適錐度的管子,結果我在自家菜園裡找到了這種中空材料。那支玩具槍做得非常好,但我的活動危及家裡的玻璃窗,所以遭到家人 苦口婆心 的勸阻。
如果沒記錯的話,我還喜歡上了刻劍,很輕易從傢俱上取下木條作原料。那階段,我受塞爾維亞愛國詩歌的影響,對主人公的高超武藝欽佩不已。我常常將長在地裡的玉米秸稈當成敵人,用寶劍大肆進行數小時的殺伐。結果,我輝煌的戰績換來的是媽媽的耳光。不得不說的,媽媽的耳光並不是做做樣子,而是真真正正的懲罰。

I had all this and more behind me before I was six years old and had past thru one year of elementary school in the village of Smiljan where I was born. At this juncture we moved to the little city of Gospic nearby. This change of residence was like a calamity to me. It almost broke my heart to part from our pigeons, chickens and sheep, and our magnificent flock of geese which used to rise to the clouds in the morning and return from the feeding grounds at sundown in battle formation, so perfect that it would have put a squadron of the best aviators of the present day to shame. In our new house I was but a prisoner, watching the strange people I saw thru the window blinds. My bashfulness was such that I would rather have faced a roaring lion than one of the city dudes who strolled about. But my hardest trial came on Sunday when I had to dress up and attend the service. There I meet with an accident, the mere thought of which made my blood curdle like sour milk for years afterwards. It was my second adventure in a church. Not long before I was entombed for a night in an old chapel on an inaccessible mountain which was visited only once a year. It was an awful experience, but this one was worse. There was a wealthy lady in town, a good but pompous woman, who used to come to the church gorgeously painted up and attired with an enormous train and attendants. One Sunday I had just finished ringing the bell in the belfry and rushed downstairs when this grand dame was sweeping out and I jumped on her train. It tore off with a ripping noise which sounded like a salvo of musketry fired by raw recruits. My father was livid with rage. He gave me a gentle slap on the cheek, the only corporal punishment he ever administered to me but I almost feel it now. The embarrassment and confusion that followed are indescribable. I was practically ostracised until something else happened which redeemed me in the estimation of the community. 

這些都是我六歲以前的壯舉,類似的事例還有很多。當時,我們家住在一個名叫斯米連 Smiljan )的村莊,我在那裡已經讀了一年小學。此後,我們搬到了戈斯皮奇( Gospic )小鎮。對我來說,這次搬家簡直就是不幸的開始。斯米連,我們養了鴿子、小雞、綿羊,甚至還有蔚為壯觀的鵝群 —— 它們在清晨迎著朝霞起來,又在傍晚日落時分列隊從覓食區歸來,那整齊劃一的隊伍,就連今天最優秀的空軍中隊也會自愧不如 。然而,到了新居,我完全就像個囚犯,只能透過窗簾觀察外面的陌生人。我非常靦腆,寧可面對一隻咆哮的獅子,也不願看在街上四處遊蕩的花花公子。每到星期日,必須穿戴整齊出席宗教儀式,這是最讓我難受的事情。在那裡,我又有遭遇,多年後回想起來,我仍是血液凝固,活像陳年優酪乳。那是我的第二次教堂冒險,在那之前,我曾在一個古老的教堂裡被困了一個晚上。教堂位於很難攀登的高山上,每年只對外開放一次。那是一次十分可怕的經歷,不過這次經歷更加糟糕。
鎮上有位非常富有的女士,她是一個善良但愛慕虛榮的人。每次去教堂,她總喜歡打扮得漂漂亮亮,穿著有長長拖裙的衣服,後面跟著一群殷勤的僕從。一個星期天,我在鐘剛敲響時就沖了下來。這位貴夫人正好盛裝走過,我一下子踩在她的拖裙上。拖裙刺啦一聲撕開了,就像一群新兵一起練習開火射擊那樣響亮我父親氣得臉色發青,不過只是在我臉頰上輕輕地打了一記耳光,這是他對我唯一的體罰,直到現在我似乎還能感到臉上火辣辣地疼。當時的難堪和狼狽難以言說。之後那段時間,人們一直對我不理不睬,直到後來發生了另外一件事才讓我在大家面前重拾尊嚴。

An enterprising young merchant had organized a fire department. A new fire engine was purchased, uniforms provided and the men drilled for service and parade. The engine was, in reality, a pump to be worked by sixteen men and was beautifully painted red and black. One afternoon the official trial was prepared for and the machine was transported to the river. The entire population turned out to witness the great spectacle. When all the speeches and ceremonies were concluded, the command was given to pump, but not a drop of water came from the nozzle. The professors and experts tried in vain to locate the trouble. The fizzle was complete when I arrived at the scene. My knowledge of the mechanism was nil and I knew next to nothing of air pressure, but instinctively I felt for the suction hose in the water and found that it had collapsed. When I waded in the river and opened it up the water rushed forth and not a few Sunday clothes were spoiled. Archimedes running naked thru the streets of Syracuse and shouting Eureka at the top of his voice did not make a greater impression than myself. I was carried on the shoulders and was the hero of the day. 

一位很上進的年輕商人組織了一支消防隊,買了輛新消防車,給每個隊員發制服,組織嚴格訓練,準備舉辦檢閱儀式。消防車被塗上漂亮的紅黑相間的顏色。一天下午,準備開始正式儀式,消防車被運到了河邊,鎮上的男女老少紛紛跑出來看熱鬧。當所有演講和儀式結束之後,組織者下令做噴水表演,但噴嘴卻噴不出一滴水來。儘管現場有好多專家和教授,卻一直沒能排除故障。當我到達現場時,失敗似乎已不可避免。其實我也不懂什麼機械裝置,但我猜到肯定是空氣壓力出了問題。於是,我本能地在水中尋找膠皮管,發現原來是膠皮管脫落了。我在水中摸索了一陣,將膠皮管重新插好,水柱便嘩嘩地噴了出來。結果可想而知,好多人的漂亮服裝被弄濕了。曾幾何時,阿基米德一絲不掛地奔跑在錫拉庫扎( Syracuse )街頭,高聲叫嚷著: 我想出來了 ,其轟動程度大概也不會超過我那天吧 。當時,人們將我扛在肩頭上興髙采烈地歡呼,我儼然成了一個大英雄。

Upon settling in the city I began a four-years' course in the so-called Normal School preparatory to my studies at the College or Real Gymnasium. During this period my boyish efforts and exploits, as well as troubles, continued. Among other things I attained the unique distinction of champion crow catcher in the country. My method of procedure was extremely simple. I would go in the forest, hide in the bushes, and imitate the call of the bird. Usually I would get several answers and in a short while a crow would flutter down into the shrubbery near me. After that all I needed to do was to throw a piece of cardboard to distract its attention, jump up and grab it before it could extricate itself from the undergrowth. In this way I would capture as many as I desired. But on one occasion something occurred which made me respect them. I had caught a fine pair of birds and was returning home with a friend. When we left the forest, thousands of crows had gathered making a frightful racket. In a few minutes they rose in pursuit and soon enveloped us. The fun lasted until all of a sudden I received a blow on the back of my head which knocked me down. Then they attacked me viciously. I was compelled to release the two birds and was glad to join my friend who had taken refuge in a cave. 

在鎮上定居之後,我在所謂的師範學校( Normal School )開始了為期四年的學習,為日後在學院或實科中學學習做準備。在此期間,淘氣的我又繼續製造出很多麻煩。
特別指出的是,我在當地獲得了一個特別的稱號 —— 捕烏鴉冠軍 。我的捕捉方法非常簡單 —— 跑到樹林裡,躲在灌木叢中,模仿烏鴉的叫聲。通常會先聽到幾聲回應,不久之後就會有一隻烏鴉拍打著翅膀落在我近旁的灌木叢中。接著,我需要做的就是扔出塊紙板,轉移它的注意力,然後縱身躍起,在它從灌木叢掙脫出來之前將它牢牢抓住。用這種方法,我捉了好多烏鴉。
但是,後來發生的一件事,使我對烏鴉產生了敬畏之情。一天,我和朋友捉住一對漂亮的烏鴉,正當我們準備離開森林的時候,上千隻烏鴉突然圍攏過來,發出了可怕的聒噪。幾分鐘以後,它們向我們飛來,並很快包圍了我們。開始,我覺得十分有趣,但是後來我的後腦勺上挨了重重的一擊,撲倒在地。接著,它們開始對我進行猛烈攻擊。於是,我不得不放開那兩隻小鳥,對方才算甘休。隨後,我才能與跑到旁邊山洞的朋友匯合。

In the schoolroom there were a few mechanical models which interested me and turned my attention to water turbines. I constructed many of these and found great pleasure in operating them. How extraordinary was my life an incident may illustrate. My uncle had no use for this kind of pastime and more than once rebuked me. I was fascinated by a description of Niagara Falls I had perused, and pictured in my imagination a big wheel run by the Falls. I told my uncle that I would go to America and carry out this scheme. Thirty years later I saw my ideas carried out at Niagara and marveled at the unfathomable mystery of the mind. 

師範學校有些機械模型,這引起了我的興趣,最能讓我注意的就是水輪機了。我曾製造了好多台水輪機模型,在操作過程中獲得了極大快樂。我人生目標的確立有很大的偶然性,這段時期的經歷可能會證明。我叔叔不喜歡我的愛好,他曾不止一次地批評我。當時,我讀了篇有關尼加拉大瀑布的文章,對其中的內容心馳神往,並在腦海勾勒出這樣一幅畫面:一隻巨大的水輪正被飛流直下的瀑布推動著。我告訴叔叔,我要到美國去實現這個設想。 30 年後,我的想法終於在尼加拉實現 想像力真是神奇而又深不可測

I made all kinds of other contrivances and contraptions but among these the arbalists I produced were the best. My arrows, when shot, disappeared from sight and at close range traversed a plank of pine one inch thick. Thru the continuous tightening of the bows I developed skin on my stomach very much like that of a crocodile and I am often wondering whether it is due to this exercise that I am able even now to digest cobble-stones! Nor can I pass in silence my performances with the sling which would have enabled me to give a stunning exhibit at the Hippodrome. And now I will tell of one of my feats with this antique implement of war which will strain to the utmost the credulity of the reader. I was practicing while walking with my uncle along the river. The sun was setting, the trout were playful and from time to time one would shoot up into the air, its glistening body sharply defined against a projecting rock beyond. Of course any boy might have hit a fish under these propitious conditions but I undertook a much more difficult task and I foretold to my uncle, to the minutest detail, what I intended doing. I was to hurl a stone to meet the fish, press its body against the rock, and cut it in two. It was no sooner said than done. My uncle looked at me almost scared out of his wits and exclaimed "Vade retro Satanas!" and it was a few days before he spoke to me again. Other records, how ever great, will be eclipsed but I feel that I could peacefully rest on my laurels for a thousand years.

此外,我還製作了其他種種裝置和發明,其中做得最好的就是弓弩。我射出的箭飛快,刹那間便消失得無影無蹤。如果距離比較近的話,可以穿透一英寸厚的松木板。久而久之,持續的拉弓練習使我的腹部長出了塊鱷魚皮一樣的皮膚,我時常想,是不是這種練習的緣故,直到現在我還能消化小石塊!此外,我還有拋擲擊物的絕技,對此我絕對不能略下不提。依靠這門絕技,我完全可以在古希臘競技場中令所有觀眾驚歎不已。現在,我要講述自己這一獨門武器創下的豐功偉績,讀者肯定會覺得難以置信的。
一天,我和叔叔沿著河邊散步,當然我也沒忘記隨時練習。當時夕陽西下,水中的鮭魚嬉戲著並不時從水中躍起,魚鱗閃爍著光芒,在遠處礁石的映襯下鮭魚輪廓分明。當然,在這種有利的條件下,任何孩子都可能擊中一條魚,但是我要完成更加艱巨的任務。我提醒叔叔,讓他注意我的每一個細節我告訴他,我會用石頭擊中魚,並且讓它撞在礁石上斷成兩截說時遲那時快,整個過程就按我所剛說的那樣發生,分毫不差叔叔盯著我,就像見了魔鬼一樣,驚得靈魂出竅他大聲喊道: 撒旦,快從我身邊滾開! Vade retra Satanae !) 此後連續幾天,叔叔都沒再跟我說話。還有一些光輝事蹟,都隨著時光流逝已經淡忘了。但是,這些豐功偉績足夠我安逸地吃上一千年的老本了。

(第二章結束 全文待續)


第一章 回目錄 ▲ 第三章

原文資料來源: http://www.institutotesla.org/NikolaTesla-MyInventions.html

中文翻譯編輯自: http://icaredbd.com:8079/sharebooks1/%E6%96%87%E5%AD%A6/%E4%BC%9F%E4%BA%BA%E4%BC%A0%E8%AE%B0/%E7%89%B9%E6%96%AF%E6%8B%89%E5%9B%9E%E5%BF%86%E5%BD%95%20%E8%A2%AB%E4%B8%96%E7%95%8C%E9%81%97%E5%BF%98%E7%9A%84%E5%A4%A9%E6%89%8D%20by%20%E5%B0%BC%E5%8F%A4%E6%8B%89-%E7%89%B9%E6%96%AF.pdf

 

 

 

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