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Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived.
Geeks stay up all night disassembling the world so that they can put it back together with new features. They tinker and fix things that aren't broken. Geeks abandon the world around them because they're busy soldering together a new one. They obsess and, in many cases, they suffer. Over one-hundred years ago, a Serbian-American inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla started fixing things that weren't broken. In a time when the majority of the world was still lit by candle power, an electrical system known as alternating current was invented and to this day is what powers every home on the planet. who do we have to thank for this invention that ushered humanity into a second industrial revolution?
"But I thought Thomas Edison was the father of the electrical age" -too many people
Nope. It was Tesla.
When most people think of Thomas Edison, they think of the man who invented the light bulb. Edison did not invent the light bulb, he improved upon the ideas of 22 other men who pioneered the light bulb before him. Edison simply figured out hot to sell the light bulb. Tesla actually worked for Edison early in his career. Edison offered to pay him the modern equivalent of a million dollars to fix the problems he was having with his DC generators and motors. Tesla fixed Edison's machines and when asked for the money he was promised, Edison laughed him off and had this to say:
"Tesla, you don't understand our American humor."
Edison was a good example of a non-geek who operated in a geek space. He believed the value of his inventions could be gauged by how much money they made. He was neither a mathematician nor a scientist -- he believed he could just hire people to do that for him. Edison was not a geek; he was a CEO. Tesla was known for discovering amazing things and then forgetting to write them down. Edison was known for rushing to the patent office as soon as one of his employees had something. After his falling out with Edison, Tesla went to work on his alternating current electrical system. This ignited a feud with Edison, who at the time was trying to sell the world his direct current system. Edison's DC system required a power station every square mile and couldn't transmit electricity very far. AC used thinner wires, had higher voltages, and couldn't transmit electricity over long distances.
So what did Edison do?
Families living in the neighborhood near Edison's laboratory began to notice that their pets were disappearing. This was because Edison had been paying schoolboys twenty-five cents a head for live dogs and cats. He then put these dogs and cats on display and publicly electrocuted them using Tesla's alternating current. His goal was to publicly smear Tesla's AC and convince the public that it was too dangerous for home use.
In short: the only thing Edison truly pioneered was summer's eve -ery and the bag it came in.
Ever heard of a man by the name or Marconi?
He won a Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing Radio. Did you know that everything he did was based on work previously done by Tesla? After Marconi became world-famous for sending the first transatlantic message, this was Tesla's response:
"Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents."
Basically, Tesla = Nicest. Inventor. EVER.
Ever heard of radar? AKA: That awesome technology that lets us detect objects like cruise missiles and latte-sipping-SUV-driving imbeciles who do 85 in a 45. An English scientist by the name of Robert A. Watson-Watt was credited with the invention of radar in 1935. Can you guess who came up with the idea in 1917, 18 years before Watson-Watt?
He pitched it to the U.S. Navy at the beginning of World War 1 when the world was getting its butthole forcibly imploded by German U-boats. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison was the head of Research & Development for the U.S. Navy at the time and he managed to convince them that it had no practical application in war.
Nice job, Edison! You bloated misguided...
Wilhelm Rontgen is typically credited as the discoverer of X-rays. Can you guess the mustache-donning inventor who beat him to it and got basically ZERO credit?
Also, when X-rays were initially discovered it was believed that they could cure blindness and other ailments. Tesla warned that X-rays could be dangerous and he refused to conduct medical experiments with them. Edison, not skipping a beat when the opportunity to be awful presented itself, got to work right away on human trials in X-ray experimentation. One of his employees, Clarence Dally, was exposed to so much radiation that his arms had to be amputated to save his life. It didn't work though, and eventually died from mediastinal cancer. Dally is considered to be the first American to die from experimentation with radiation -- Finally Edison invents something original!
In addition to killing his assistant, Edison nearly blinded himself by repeatedly firing X-rays at his own eyes. When asked about the X-rays later on, this was Edison's reply:
"Don't talk to me about X-rays, I am afraid of them." -Thomas Edison, 1903
Ever wonder who built the first hydro-electric plant at Niagara falls and proved to the world that this type of power was a practical energy source?
Who was experimenting with cryogenic engineering nearly a half century before its invention?
Who held patents over a hundred years ago that were later used in the development of the transistor?
-- The transistor is the device which makes the information age possible so you can refresh your Facebook page and download donkey porn and whatnot. --
Who was the first person to record radio waves from outer space? (inadvertently making himself the father of radio astronomy)
Who discovered the resonant frequency of the earth?
-- This is something scientists couldn't confirm until 50 years later when technology had caught up to what Tesla's brain figured out in the 1890's. --
Who built an earthquake machine that nearly demolished an entire neighborhood in New York City when it was turned on?
Ever heard of ball lightning? It's lightning that appears in the form of sphere and travels slowly while hovering a few feet above the ground. It's an extremely rare phenomenon and even today no scientists have ever successfully produced it a laboratory. Oh, except Tesla did it back in the 1890's.
Ever wonder who invented the remote control?
The modern electric motor?
You know how when you need electricity for your home it simply rains down from the Earth's ionosphere and charges everything wirelessly? Oh right, that was something Tesla invented but didn't share with the world probably because he was afraid of uninspired donkeys stealing his patents.
Without question, Tesla was a genius. He spoke eight languages: Serbian, English, Czech, German, French, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin.
Most of us only speak one language (and poorly at that).
He could memorize entire books and recite them at will. Most of us can't even remember our passwords. He could visualize devices entirely in his head and then build them without ever writing anything down. Most of us only spend time visualizing things like naked women and greasy sandwiches. And even more impressive, the man lived to be 86 and celibate his entire life. Despite being 6'6" (200cm) tall in the 1890's and mega popular with the ladies, Tesla refused to date because he believed it would interfere with his work.
So with this incredible mind and all these inventions behind him, Tesla should be rich and famous, right? Unfortunately, no. Tesla lived in a time when the world demanded results that were practical and profitable. We didn't want radio astronomy; we wanted light bulbs and toaster ovens. Tesla's contributions were not incremental; they were revolutionary. One of Tesla's final gifts to the world was a tower near New York City that would have provided free wireless energy to the entire planet. The man who financed the construction of the tower shut it down when he learned that there would be no way to regulate the energy and therefore it wouldn't make any money.
This acquisitiveness and greed plagued most of Tesla's career, and he spent the majority of it being broke. In addition, Tesla also suffered from a disorder we now commonly refer to as being "batshit insane." Tesla hallucinated and often had a hard time differentiating between reality and his imagination, which is why he spent years alone in his laboratory working day and night. He often said that the only time he was truly happy was when he was cooped up in his lab. Tesla died broke and alone in an NYC hotel room. He'd been living on milk and Nabisco crackers, and in one his final interviews he revealed something of a very personal nature:
"I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them, for years. But there was one pigeon, a beautiful bird, pure white with light gray tips on it's wings; that one was different. It was a female. I would know that pigeon anywhere. No matter where I was that pigeon would find me, when I wanted only had to wish and call her she would come flying to me. She understood me and I understood her. I loved that pigeon. Yes, I loved her as a man loved a women, and she loved me. As I looked at her I knew she wanted to tell me -- she was dying. And then, as I got her message, there came a light from her eyes -- powerful beams of light.
Living on crackers and talking to an imaginary laser pigeon?!
That was Tesla's reward for all the things he gave to humanity?!
Dear Nikola Tesla,
I'm so very very sorry.
You were a man displaced in time; an Archimedes, Steve Wozniak, Tony Stark of the 19th century
You were the greatest geek who ever lived in a time when the human race was crappier than usual
On behalf of those who obsess, tinker, and fix things that aren't broken consider it my way of saying...
Thank You Nikola Tesla
PS Edison sucks hahahahahahahahahahahahah good day all
View comic strip here - Theoatmeal.com