Have you ever had a near-death experience? Many who have give remarkably similar accounts. Here are two similar accounts by two of the most brilliant people in the Twentieth Century.
Nikola Tesla was one of the most gifted scientists the world has ever known. His two greatest inventions, the alternating current transformer and the magnifying transformer that became the basis for television transmission have history-making significance to the modern world. And although Marconi is credited with discovering the radio, Tesla held patents on much of the required equipment. Another familiar, if less important invention was the Jacob’s Ladder, which appeared in nearly every early Sci-Fi movie that was made into the ‘sixties. (According to some film historians, Tesla was the basis for Dracula.) Yet another invention has led to low-intensity radio transmissions used to communicate with submarines and a tracking device that would have allowed the government to follow every sub in the navy. Tesla also envisioned and experimented with innumerable other things that did not succeed because his ideas were centuries before their time.
Needless to say, Tesla was a scientific giant. But he also had uncontollable visions that could be described as hallucinations. These visions often tormented him, but on at least occasion, they helped to save his life. As a child he was swimming in the river near his hometown in Croatia. To impress his friends he dove and swam underwater to a diving dock some distance away from the shore, intending to swim under it and emerge where his friends couldn’t see him. He swam until he was sure he was clear of the dock and came to the surface. He banged his head on a beam under the dock. He swam farther and came up again, and hit his head once more. Now out of breath, he had a vision of the entire foating dock and realized that he could come up to a point between the slats and breathe that way. Luckily for him, the strategy worked. It still took him many attempts before he reached open water.
A similar event occurred in the life of Harry Houdini who did one of his escapes from a strait-jacket after being lowered, in chains, through a hole bored in the frozen Detroit River. He easily escaped the strait-jacket and the chains and was paddling toward the surface toward the hole. To his horror, the hole wasn’t above him. The current had carried him down the river and he had no idea where the escape hole was located. His chest was heaving for lack of air and he had resigned himself that he would drown. Instead, he saw a brilliant light over his head and swam for it. He found his ahead above water, but not at the hole. He had climbed into a natural air pocket. Able to breathe, he fough the current to return to where he found the chain and strait jacket. After two more trips back to his air pocket, he located his escape and emerged.
Both men had several more close escapes in their lives. Both died under unusal circumstances, though not the ones you might imagine. Houdini liked to dare people to punch him in his stomach. He would tense up his muscles and the blow never did any harm. On one occasion, the puncher caught him unready. Houdini doubled over in pain. The blow had ruptured his appendix, which was on his right side rather than his left. Tesla was run down by a motorist in 1943 while crossing an uncongested street.
Life is strange, isn’t it?