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April 30, 2012 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Science: What’s It Up To?

Nikola Tesla

Anyone even remotely associated with real-time strategy games has heard the name Tesla before—the Serbian God of Lightning’s righteous zapping coils have been ruining the lives of digital soldiers and zapping Allied war machines into spare parts since the release of Command & Conquer: Red Alert—but surprisingly few people these days are familiar with the life and times of one of humankind’s most eccentric, badass, and volumetrically-insane scientific super- geniuses.

He was crazy smart, he almost single- handedly developed technology that harnessed the power of electricity for household use, and invented things like electrical generators, FM radio, remote control, robots, spark plugs, fluorescent lights and giant-ass machines that shoot enormous, brain-frying lightning bolts all over the place like crazy. Oh yeah, he also spoke eight languages.

He was also a total nutcase. He was obsessive-compulsive and hated round objects, human hair, jewelry, and anything that wasn’t divisible by three, was prone to nervous breakdowns, claimed to receive weird visions in the middle of the night, spoke to pigeons and occasionally thought he was receiving electromagnetic signals from extra-terrestrials on Mars. He was also asexual and celibate for his entire life. Basically the ultimate mad scientist, which is seriously awesome.

Despite being incredibly popular during his day, now Tesla remains largely overlooked among lists of the greatest inventors and scientists of the modern era. Thomas Edison gets all the glory for discovering the lightbulb, but it was his one-time assistant and life-long arch-nemesis who made the breakthroughs in alternating- current technology that allowed for people to cheaply use electricity to power appliances and lighting in their homes. They constantly fought about whether to use alternating or direct currents, but ultimately Tesla was the one who delivered the fatal kick-to-the-crotch that ended the battle—at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, his AC generators illuminated the entire experience, marking the first time that an event of that magnitude had ever taken place under the glow of artificial light. Today, all homes and appliances run on Tesla’s AC current.

Nikola Tesla was one of those super- genius badasses whose intellect placed him dangerously on the precipice between “great scientific mind” and “utter madness”. He held 700 patents at the time of his death, made groundbreaking discoveries
in the fields of physics, robotics, steam turbine engineering and magnetism. And honestly, if there were one man on this planet who was ever capable of single- handedly destroying the entire planet through his insane scientific discoveries, it was Tesla.


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