Tesla is almost solely responsible for the world’s current electrical layout.
He helped established robotics, radar, remote control, and he helped expand ballistics, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics. Yet, practically no one’s heard of him. Why? Well, there are two main reasons. One: he was in competition with a complete dickbag. And two: he, like many brilliant people, was absolutely bat-shit crazy, to the point where the scientific community didn’t really want anything to do with him.
Let’s start with the dickbag:
This man is named Thomas Edison, and he’s widely credited with the invention of the light bulb. He was also an all-around pretentious asshole, who totally tried to steal Tesla’s credit… which kinda worked, considering everyone remembers him and not Tesla.
Anyway, the two men had initially worked together — well, Tesla worked for Edison –and this is where Tesla was first screwed over by the man. Edison had offered $50,000 — over a million bucks, adjusted for inflation — to someone who could fix his crappy and inefficient motors. When Tesla did (probably by staring them down until they worked harder), Edison wrote his deal off as a joke, and continued to pay Tesla $18 per week.
Keep in mind, Tesla was one of the most brilliant humans to have ever lived; it didn’t take long for him to flip Edison the bird and get his ass outta there to start his own company.
Soon enough, Edison’s electricity, direct current (DC) was competing with Tesla’s far superior electricity, alternating current (AC). Edison actually tried to discredit Tesla’s AC by having the first electric chair run on it; this was supposed to discourage people from putting it in their home.
He even went so far as to try and get it legally banned for its “danger.” Luckily, people weren’t quite as susceptible to marketing ploys in the 1880’s…
…so Tesla won out.
Had Edison been completely successful, today’s wires would be the thickness of water pipes, and way more expensive. Then again, had Tesla been completely successful, we wouldn’t even be using wires to transmit power. But more on that later.
The second reason Tesla really isn’t well-known is because, like I said earlier, he was fucking nuts. And he was insane. Okay, so I don’t actually know if he had sexual encounters with peanuts, but he was celibate and eccentric. You never know.
Anyway, this was a man who spoke 8 languages, had a relentless photographic memory — he memorized entire books at a time — and could mentally picture even the most complex schematics. This is why he left little to no records of any of his projects; he would literally figure them all out in his head. This was also a man who had a love for the number 3 (only staying in hotel rooms that were divisible by the number), was repulsed by jewelry (especially pearl earrings), and was obsessed with pigeons (he fed them daily in Central Park).
Basically, Tesla was the epitome of a mad scientist. Some people blame the mysterious 1908 Tunguska Event — an explosion in Russia that was exponentially larger than the Hiroshima bomb — on some stuff Tesla had been messing around with.
Tesla also found the resonant frequency of the Earth, and subsequently created an earthquake just for shits and giggles. Debating the validity of that statement would be like stressing over whether a guy is great in the sack or everyone just thinks he is. For him, it doesn’t matter.
Here’s some other cool stuff he did, or at least had plans for in his head:
- Invented the Tesla coil
- Had plans for a flying machine that would work on ions
- Made an RC boat (in 1898)
- spent the later part of his life working on an electric death ray
By the way, this is what a Tesla coil actually does:
Tesla envisioned an entire power grid of giant Tesla coils which would wirelessly bring electricity directly to your home. Did I mention he lived during the 1800’s?
Anyway, after Tesla died, the FBI came and confiscated what little records he had left. Because seriously, this was some sensitive shit, and they definitely didn’t want someone walking out with the Earthquaker Automatic.
But somehow, even after all Tesla’s contributions and, quite frankly, insane badassery, teachers still decide to present Edison in their classrooms. Which just goes to show you, no matter how hard you work and how much you accomplish — even if you are the freaking God of electricity — there will always be a giant douche ready to piss on your parade.