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Nikola Tesla's Mother Knows Best


by Andrew Borakove October 20, 2017

Much mythologizing has gone on, around, and about Nikola Tesla - futurist, visionary and science man - but for all the scholarship and investigation that has gone into his life, very little is still known about the afternoon teas he would share with his fellow science folk.

The contents of only one (!) of these non-apocryphal meetings have survived to the present day.

Tesla frequently met with the original dog whisperer, Ivan Pavlov, to discuss the training of pets and other interesting experiments involving Diet Coke and Mentos.

Tesla's mother was, of course also present at the meetings, making sure her science boys stayed well-nourished. It is said she made the best ginger-snaps in town. Nothing encourages the pursuit of knowledge like a well-made cookie, as they would soon discover.

At one meeting they were discussing Pavlov's work with the effects of aural stimuli on canines; Pavlov was lamenting some of his results. He had been attempting to ring a bell as the trigger for salivation and was achieving an undesirable outcome. Only regurgitation! No salivation!


Glancing down at their plates and noting the round shape of the cookies they were sharing, sweet sweet Mother Tesla had an epiphany.

"Have you thought of trying a gong?", she asked Pavlov.

Pavlov was immediately keen on the idea. And asked for seconds of her snappy gingers.

"I think I have spare 16" gong in the pantry I can loan you," Mother Tesla offered.

"That would splendid. I am eager to try it out," Pavlov responded.

Nikola Tesla beamed with pride at his mother's imagination and intelligence.

Gong in hand, Pavlov departed to his laboratory.

Upon arrival, he immediately set up the 16" Mother Tesla gong on an early version of a High C Gong Stand that he had been using for another purpose unrelated to science but more related to laundry.

The gong and stand together seemed to alter something in the room that Pavlov could only describe as "the mood".

The dogs began rolling around in joy, their tongues lolling in ecstasy and he had yet to strike the gong. He picked up the mallet and gave it a tentative tap. The dogs were suddenly granted the ability to open the latches on their kennels. They gathered around Pavlov in a perfectly symmetrical sunburst pattern.

"Sit," he said.

And they sat.

"Speak," he said.

And they harmonized the chords to "Green Onions" by Booker T. & the M.G.s



"What can I get you?", he asked.

They all stared at the gong. So he continued to strike the gong. And the dogs were happy, tails a'wagging.

Of course, Pavlov's goal was not to make dogs happy. He ultimately returned to the bell, making adjustments to temper its effects, make it sound more like a gong to canine ears until he achieved the desired result.

But he kept the gong around and whenever his experimentation subjects needed an aural palate cleansing, he would bring it out and play it for them long into the night.



The 16" Mother Tesla gong on High C Stand- making dogs, people, and Nikola Tesla happy, in the world of science and beyond.

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Andrew Borakove
Andrew Borakove

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