Nikola Tesla, Randomly

It's been quite awhile since I posted by my standards. I've been busy finally finishing up at Multifaith Works (Thursday's my last day) and getting ready for Christmas and two weeks in Hawaii. Can't wait. Need the break. Leaving next Tuesday.

In the meantime I've been put on to the book "Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla". For those not in the know, Tesla was a genius on par with Edison - one of the original harnessers of electricity, and the "father of wireless" who figured out how to transmit energy and information without, well, wires. He was credited with inventing radio, and when he died he was marketing a weapon alternately dubbed a 'death ray' or a 'peace ray' to the US gov't. His inventions were one of the main things that made the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 notable, and a lot of his ideas on the nature of matter and energy precursed and informed Einstein.

I'm not generally that intrigued with run of the mill geniuses - there are lots of those - but I really do love crazy geniuses, which is why I love Tesla. For your benefit, I'll list some of the fun facts that I've learned so far:

When he was a young boy in the Austrian Empire, his mother put him outside naked after a bath, and a goose that he'd previously antagonized bit his 'you know what'.

He was apparently a lifelong celibate, but he really loved animals - famously pigeons. Apparently an actual quote about a favorite pet:
"Yes, I loved that pigeon, I loved her as a man loves a woman, and she loved me."

Trying to procure money, he would run current through his body while holding lightbulbs, lighting them up a la Uncle Fester.

He hated his rival Thomas Edison and criticized his hygiene after he died, but was good friends with Mark Twain.

He was against war, and his 'death ray' was actually supposed to create peace by allowing countries to put up giant electric walls around their borders so that anyone crossing (even in flight) would be killed.

By running energy through his body, he apparently could shoot sparks out of his hands like the Tesla coil in the video above and caused himself to glow in the dark.

He thought electrocution at the right frequency cured diseases.

Despite all the self-abuse, lived 'til 86 and had at least 300 patented inventions, and basically designed the modern Alternating Current Electrical System himself.

"The Prestige" apparently features him prominently, but I haven't seen it yet.

You should read the book. It gets my seal of approval.


Anonymous said…
NPR did a special on him last week. And if you havent seen it, Mythbusters tried out one of his theories/inventions with an interesting result.
Shayne Mathis said…
The Prestige is really good.
Unknown said…
I looked up the mythbusters thing, and that reminds me of a good one that I forgot - Tesla said that you could plausibly make the entire earth split in half and/or explode by basically playing it like a big vibrating drum across a century or so.