I watched the grisly footage of Edison's electrocuting an elephant to prove that AC electricity was dangerous last night on TV.
Edison was single-minded in his contention that only DC electricity would work. It reminded me of a talk I'd attended earlier in the day where an entrepreneur read some lines from W.H. Murray, a mountain climber during World War 2. He wrote:
... but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
The entrepreneur's point was that you have to be fully committed to your idea, and after that point, you can do great things. But I'm sure he didn't mean be so sure of your idea that you electrocute an elephant to prove it.