Think about your favorite scientist.
Well, was it Einstein? Not surprising, since Albert Einstein will remain considered as the most well-known scientist to all laymen who’re yet unaware of his prominent enlightening theories that have reshaped our understandings of the universe. So, was it SchrÃ¶dinger just for the reason that of his ‘dead and alive’ fluffy cat? Congratulations! You are no near to constructive science. Keep purring. SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat paradox remains a small part of his outstanding fundamental contributions to the field of quantum theory.
Was it Thomas Edison because he ‘invented’ the light bulb? If yes, then you’re partly incorrect with the ‘invented’ part. The journey of the incandescent electric light bulb began in 1802 which was initiated by Sir Humphry Davy who used platinum filaments, followed by a number of attempts of improvisation by many inventors and thus ended its journey with Edison along with his team improvising it with carbonized bamboo filaments which proved Edison ‘inventing’ the first ‘commercially successful light bulb’ in 1879, almost 80 years later from where it all began. The world has a huge problem of Thomas Edison NOT inventing the light bulb and although Edison has been subjected to plagiarism, this historic account surely doesn’t make him much a plagiarist.
So yes, Edison surely lit up the world with his light bulb but here is where the story seems wrong. In the midst of Edison’s fame, there was yet another name; a name that revolutionized the digitized electric age of today, who selflessly shared his works for humanity and for science. The man wished for a world where everyone would prioritize new scientific discoveries for betterment of mankind, and not for blood-spilling wars. He was more than just an inventor, he was humane. In archetypal sense, he was termed as “the mad scientist”. But this was his uniqueness. Women vied over his modesty, sweetness and distinguished sincerity. But he never fell prey to it and continued contributing his ingenious works. He was not just an inventor, he was a futurist; a futurist who illuminated the earth electrically bright due to his immense contributions in designing the very back-bone of every modern electric supply of today – the alternating current. He had the answers to it all. He was the electric genius, Nikola Tesla.
Born at the stroke of midnight on the 10th of July 1856, on a night struck with lightning and storm, Nikola Tesla’s fate was decided: to be the awaited prophet of the ‘current’ age. He resembled the ‘Thor’ of Serbia or in greater sense, the Serbian God of electric lightning. Born to Serbian parents in a village which belongs to modern-day Croatia, the Serbs and the Croatians have a reason to rival against each other as to whom Tesla must be linked to. Whether he was the fruit to his Serbian bloodline or a messiah who was born on the Croatian soil, Tesla however had his own joyous tale to share. On the 30th of July 1891, Tesla became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He states that he valued this citizenship of his more than any scientific discovery that he had acquired. But what did the United States have to offer?
After been stolen during his journey and with only four cents in his pocket, a letter of recommendation, a few poems and remaining belongings, Tesla arrived to the States on 1884. Thomas Edison recruited Tesla in his company Edison Machine Works, possibly Edison’s most clever move. Tesla was doing great, quickly solving every difficult problem the company faced. History accounts of Tesla’s innocence. Edison once challenged Tesla to solve a grave problem the company faced and promised to reward him. In his statement, he states it to Tesla saying, “There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you, if you can do it.” Tesla victoriously solved and fulfilled the task after months of work and when he asked for his payment, Edison jokingly replied, “Oh Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor!” Yes, Edison did play the joke to which Tesla resigned. Poor young Tesla!
In popular culture or precisely after Matthew Inman’s The Oatmeal comic on ‘Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived’ , Thomas Edison is often considered as an antagonist or as in mainstream social media, ‘the evil villain’ to Tesla’s tale towards enlightenment, which denotes him as nothing else but as a false idol. The social stream has fallen prey to believe in almost everything the other part of the internet speaks. The comic itself consist of various flaws and misinterpretations regarding Edison and sounds more anti-Edison rather pro-Tesla. Character wise, the two men differed in almost everything. While on one side was the ambitious entrepreneurial atheistic Edison and on the other was the artistic innovative God-fearing Tesla. Edison and Tesla were just two sides of the same coin; Tesla was just the better side.
Tesla’s life revolves around a tale of his fluctuating electric rise and downfall. His innocence has been subjected as to why he is surely the most lovable geeks of all, fallen prey to pity. His own company, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing did not do much well either. But the question is yet unanswered of why he is surely the greatest inventor of all time. And here it is why.
Tesla was a mixture of ‘utter genius’ and ‘unquestioned madness’ in a bowlful of some more awesome genius. He is the man behind the key to wireless energy transmission also known as the Tesla effect, the infamous Tesla coil which was further used in the development of the radio, the principle of the remote control for which he termed it as “teleautomatics” using radio control, the magnifying transmitter or in layman’s term: a huge machine shooting high-voltage sparks zap and zoom all over the place while Tesla reads his book merrily on a chair just like any other bright day during the spring, wireless fluorescent lamps, a bladeless turbine also known as the Tesla turbine, the Tesla oscillator causing man-made tectonic earthquakes and some more endless inventions patenting just around 300.
But here is the reason why it puts a sure end to the discussion of why he deserves to be the greatest inventor of all time. Tesla innovated, and did not improvise. He claimed to have theoretically proposed a new means of efficient ‘free energy’, the death ray, energy force fields, wireless transmission of electricity and all those amazing inventions and fiction-science you just get to see on the latest sci-fi flick. Tesla had the answers to it all. He pictured his inventions in his mind and not on paper. Inspired by this eidetic memory of his, he proposed the idea of a ‘thought camera’, a camera which could photograph one’s thoughts. The man was an utter genius. But the tale of his life was narrative cheerless end, the tale of his fall. Near the end of his life he would feed pigeons daily, he states “There was one, a beautiful bird, pure white with light grey tips on its wings; that one was different. It was a female. I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.”
On the 7th of January 1943, Tesla died alone and impoverished, in the Room of 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel. His ashes now lie in a spherical urn, a tribute to his favorite geometric shape, the sphere.
Nikola Tesla has not been much credited for his extraordinary contributions to the field of science and new-age electric world. He is the reason why the world works itself the electric way. He is the reason why every gadget in your confined space works to fulfill your comfort and solace. He is the reason why you read this piece on your device. But you might have never heard of his name. Nevertheless, we thank him; we praise him; we love him.