Curious People : Tesla, The Curious Scientist

Have you ever been curious enough to wonder why  the word ‘eccentric’ is sometimes paired with the word ‘genius’?  That maybe the two words go hand-in-hand?  I have always found is a marvelously curious word… eccentric.  It’s so curiously lovely really!  Throughout the course of human history there have been many eccentrics; people who have contributed to history in some fashion or another by the use of their genius or even eccentricity.  Salvador Dali is a well-known eccentric.  As was King George III, Howard Hughes, and Orson Welles.  But this is not about them.  This particular post is about the famed eccentric, mad scientist, and certifiable genius Nikola Tesla.

Nikola Tesla is referred to as “the man who invented the 20th century”.   As an eccentric man, Tesla was prone to do and suggest rather crazy things.  In honor of one of the greatest geniuses that the human race has ever lost, here is a list of some of his more quirky moments and achievements.

Did you know…

*Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were, by default, enemies since Edison was tied up with DC electricity and Tesla with AC electricity.  Due to the fact that Tesla’s AC electricity cost half of Edison’s DC it was used in the World Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  During this exposition, Tesla demonstrated the safety of AC current by passing high-powered AC power through his body to power light bulbs.  He even shot bolts of electricity at the crowd without harming them from his Tesla coils.

*He once designed an oscillator that generated a half 1 million volts. Tesla made the earth into an electric tuning fork by getting a steam-driven oscillator to vibrate at the same frequency as the ground. The result was an earthquake in the surrounding city. He had accurately determined the resonant frequencies of the Earth almost 60 years before science could confirm his results.

*In 1900, he started construction of the “Wireless Broadcasting System” on Long Island which would have linked both worlds telephone and telegraph system together.  A century ahead of its time!

*Convinced he could develop enough power to “split the earth like an apple” and suggested  (for reasons he no doubt thought good ones at the time) to destroy New York City, Tesla moved his experiments to Knob Hill near Colorado Springs, in a structure that included a roll-back roof to prevent fires from the sparks sent out while he tinkered with transformers.  The first time Tesla tested one of his inventions at full power, the roar was heard for more than 10 miles.

*At the beginning of World War I, Tesla proposed the use of energy waves to detect German submarines (known today as RADAR). Thomas Edison rejected his idea as ludicrous.

*Tesla discovered X-ray radiation 3 years before Wilhelm Roentgen was credited for the same discovery.

*Tesla worked for many years attempting his wireless transmission of electricity and believed that electricity could be projected into the upper atmosphere for storage and access at will!

*Tesla and the great storyteller, Mark Twain, were very close friends.  I believe.  Even a rumor of Tesla X-raying Mark Twain’s head!  What curious friends!

*He claimed to have designed a death ray – or “peace ray,” as he preferred – that could electrocute an approaching army completely at a distance of 200 miles.

*It is guesstimated that he has over 500 patents!

*Tesla managed to light 200 lamps, without wires, from 25 miles away.

In the best tradition of mad scientists, Nikola Tesla had his less than rational moments.  As a matter of fact, later on in his life he was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder which was immediately apparent.  For example…

*Even though he was one of the greatest minds the human race has ever known, he was totally curiously incapable of understanding even basic finances.

*This was also a man with a germ phobia of which Howard Hughes would have been proud!

*During some of his human lightning rod test he believed extraterrestrials had contacted him.

*And on top of all of that, he suffered from hallucinations, night tremors, and a terrified loathing of women wearing earrings!

He also invented the first hydroelectric dam ( Niagara Falls), the first speedometer, and fluorescent lights to name a very…very few.  Yet due to his eccentric nature he was labeled a mad scientist and he died alone and penniless at the age of 86 in a rundown hotel room.  However, I consider his curious life to be far more interesting to talk about.


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