Punkettes | August 21, 2012
You may have noticed the name “Tesla” trending on twitter lately, or heard something about the campaign to save his lab. Unfortunately many people still don’t know who Nikola Tesla was. Let’s put it this way. If it weren’t for Tesla, you wouldn’t be on this blog, you would be reading a book by candle light. So who is this Tesla we speak of, and what has he got to do with steampunk?
Here at the Punkettes, we love our mad inventors, and Nikola Tesla was the father of mad inventors. He was also responsible for a huge amount of the technology we’re using today.
Unfortunately, Tesla had one recurring theme in his life aside from brilliance. He got screwed over. Again and again. You’ve all heard of Thomas Edison, yes? He was the main culprit for plenty of Tesla’s suffering. For a little while Tesla worked for Edison. Edison promised him a huge sum of money if he fixed the problems with his direct current generators and motors. Tesla did it, spending hours and hours of his time and brain power. When he asked for money, Edison laughed at him. Tesla quit and ended up digging ditches for two dollars a day.
At the time Edison was attempting to package and sell his direct current and when he heard Tesla was working on an alternate current electrical system, he ran a smear campaign that consisted of hiring kids to steal people’s pets and displaying them in his lab. He would then electrocute the pets in front of everyone, in an attempt to show them that Tesla’s current wasn’t safe for the home. What a stand-up guy!
Ever hear of Robert A.Watson-watt? He was credited for RADAR. Want to know who came up with the idea eighteen years earlier? You guessed it! Tesla pitched it to the military at the height of world war one. The head of the R&D for the US Navy shot the idea down. Can you guess who that was? Thomas Edison! He keeps popping up like a bad penny.
How about the name Marconi? He’s famous for inventing radio. What most people don’t know is that all his work was based on Tesla’s.
Wilhelm Rontgen claimed to invent the XRAY. Only wait, who invented it before he did? Are you seeing a pattern here?
Other amazing discovers of Tesla include: Building the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls, experimenting with cryogenic engineering half a century before invention, being the first to record radio waves from space, discovering the resonant frequency of the earth, the modern electric motor, wireless communications. Also, Tesla built an earthquake machine that nearly took out an entire New York city block when it was turned on! Mad inventor? I think so!
The case is simple. Tesla was simply a genius in the wrong time. He was a revolutionary. Back then, people weren’t interested in revolution. Like Edison, they just wanted something they could package and sell. Tesla wasn’t aggressive enough, he wasn’t meanenough, so he got ripped off repeatedly.
Over the course of his life, Tesla held over one hundred patents. He spoke eight different languages and was able to memorize entire books. He lived to the old age of eighty-six, and was celibate all his life because he was too wrapped up in his work. Sadly, he died alone and broke in a hotel room. He is said to have been quite mad, apparently firmly convinced that he was in love with one of the pigeons he often fed in the morning.
Now, his final life’s work, is up for sale. Wardenclyffe, his lab in Shorehan, New York. There he tried to build a tower that would provide free wireless energy for the world. The project was never completed, since the man funding it realized there would be no way to harness it and make money from it.
Now people are finally starting to recognize Tesla and everything he did for the world. There’s a valiant effort to save up enough money to purchase the lab and turn it into a museum. BUT, there’s another offer on the land. Someone who wants it for retail! Someone who wants to tear down his lab and stick another strip mall in the spot. We cannot let it happen! Who needs another mall? We want a museum! Finally his life’s work would be honoured. And it’s about time.