Sunday, February 03, 2013


Do you ever wake up in the morning (or afternoon) with a feeling that the world needs to know much more about Nicola Tesla and how he might have ushered in an electric utopia had it not been for been for Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse and the capitalist profit motive. I don’t do it often but today was an exception. Maybe it was because January 7th was the 70th anniversary of Tesla’s death, maybe because Tesla came up on my Facebook page a couple of days ago, or perhaps because the movie The Prestige in which David Bowie plays Tesla ran on TV the other night. Whatever the reason, let’s get to it. (My own personal theory is that Tesla was just a stranded alien trying to phone home.) There’s a pretty detailed entry on Wikipedia. Here’s a short except.

“At his lab, Tesla proved that the earth was a conductor. He produced artificial lightning (with discharges consisting of millions of volts and up to 135 feet long). Thunder from the released energy was heard 15 miles away in Cripple Creek, Colorado. People walking along the street observed sparks jumping between their feet and the ground. Electricity sprang from taps when turned on. Light bulbs within 100 feet of the lab glowed even when turned off. Horses in a livery stable bolted from their stalls after receiving shocks through their metal shoes. Butterflies were electrified, swirling in circles with blue halos of St. Elmo's fire around their wings.
While experimenting, Tesla accidentally short-circuited the generator, causing a power outage In August 1917, Tesla explained what had happened in The Electrical Experimenter: "As an example of what has been done with several hundred kilowatts of high frequency energy liberated, it was found that the dynamos in a power house six miles away were repeatedly burned out, due to the powerful high frequency currents set up in them, and which caused heavy sparks to jump thru the windings and destroy the insulation!"
At his lab, Tesla observed unusual signals from his receiver (which he interpreted as 1—2—3—4), which he later believed were extraterrestrial radio wave communications coming from Mars. The signals were substantially different from the signals those that he had noted from noise of storms and the earth, Specifically, he later recalled that the signals appeared in groups of one, two, three, and four clicks together, Tesla was highly criticized upon revealing his finding.”

Or you could click here for a 42-minute film. Or click here for a somewhat dopey but well meaning and on-the-money website.

The secret word is Zap

Ed Koch --RIP


Peter L. Winkler said...

Westinghouse backed Tesla in the development of the AC polyphase motor and generator, and gave Tesla a contract giving him royalties for every kilowatt produced. Had Tesla stuck to the contract, he would have been rich. Instead, he traded the royalty agreement for a fixed sum.

You need to do some reading and get your facts sorted out, because Westinghouse was not Tesla's enemy.

Diamond Jim said...

But, like Farren said, Westing house made damned sure that Tesla's research into free broadcast energy came to a halt.

Mr Jones said...

It's undeniable that Tesla was a genius, that his insights and discoveries form the basis of many subsequent technological developments, and that he has been largely overlooked outside the scientific community, but the particular website to which you refer is both demonstrably stupid and morally repugnant. To credit him with the invention of everything from X-ray machines to neon lighting to remote control devices is as absurd as claiming that Einstein invented the LHC, and the remark "I hope a Nazi torpedo hit your grandchildren right in the mouth" is beneath contempt.