Nikola Tesla was widely known as the father of the modern age. He is most famous for his inventions of the alternating current (AC), wireless technology, television and the radio, and robotics, among other important things.
Tesla was born to a Serbian family in Yugoslavia, in the now Croatian village of Smiljan. He moved to the United States at the age of 28 with only a few pennies in his pockets and managed to become one of the most influential scientists in the world.
Tesla managed to create a lot of inventions and he invested the money he earned from those inventions in creating new ones. He didn’t really care much about money, he lived in hotels in New York and he died poor and alone. He once said that he didn’t have anything against people claiming his inventions as their own as long as they served for the good of humanity.
There are a lot of stories surrounding his life and work, but these 10 things are something you probably haven’t heard of before.
- Tesla cared a lot about the environment
Tesla was concerned about people’s dependency on natural resources that were not renewable, such as coal, oil and the most dangerous one – nuclear power. He saw the destructiveness in the process as not only being unsustainable resource-wise, but also destructive to the environment. That was the main reason why he was trying to perfect the use of the abundant natural resources, such as air, water and the electricity of the Earth that was abundant and untouched.
You can read his article, Our Future Motive Power, which talks a lot about it.
- Tesla was born during a summer lightning storm
Tesla was born “at the stroke of midnight” during a summer lightning storm. The midwife made a comment that he would be “a child of the storm”, to which his mother replied “No, of light”. They were both right.
- Tesla was a humanist
He believed in improving the quality of life through better education and living conditions. He saw ignorance, insanity and religious fanaticism as the “frictional forces which impede progress”. He was also a strong opponent of the countries’ tendencies to spend more on war than on education. This inspired him to take a stand against war with his invention that would end all war – ‘the Teleforce’.
In short, he saw all the unnecessary investments in destructive power as enemies to humanity.
- Tesla thought of smartphone technology in 1901!
Tesla was able to envision the 21st century long before it began. In fact, he talked of a system that could collect information, encode it and broadcast it to a hand-held device. This idea came to him while developing the transantlantic radio and it is very similar to today’s mobile internet on our phones.
- He had his own mind lab
Tesla had a very strong and precise eidetic memory. Not only could he recall whole books in great detail, but he could also create whole designs and constructions in his mind, which he later used to develop his new inventions. The results he got in his mind while imagining the inventions were incredibly accurate. This meant a lot less physical efforts in achieving results!
- The US Government seized and classified Tesla’s stuff after his death
When Tesla died, the Office of Alien Property seized all of Tesla’s documents and schematics and kept them classified. While most of his possessions were later returned to his family or donated to the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, some are still missing, as they remain classified to this day.
- Tesla may have had insomnia and OCD
Tesla claimed that he needed only “about one and one-half hours a night” of sleep. He said that “Time spent in sleep is lost time”. He said that there were so many things to do, he didn’t want to spend time sleeping needlessly. This, though, might point to insomnia.
Tesla was also obsessed with the number 3, or in fact with the numbers 3, 6 and 9. He once said: “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have the key to the universe.”
Of course, this does not point to any kind of OCD, but he was obsessed with any number dividable by 3. For example, he cleaned his dining room with 18 napkins before eating his dinner. He also detested jewelry, especially pearls, round objects and touching hair.
- Tesla and Edison were not enemies
Despite the popular claim that Edison was Tesla’s arch nemesis, the fact is that they had worked together in designing direct current generators before Tesla left Edison to pursue his dream of the alternating current induction motor.
That’s when they became rivals. Edison made a lot of efforts to put a halt to Tesla’s alternating current, and these involved traveling shows in which he electrocuted elephants with Tesla’s AC.
- Tesla made Mark Twain crap his white suit
One of the popular anecdotes about Nikola Tesla was about when he made Mark Twain leave a remarkable stain on his white suit. As all other men who wanted to brag with their ‘new toys’, Tesla was no exception.
After Mark Twain’s complaints about his “recurring bouts of constipation”, Tesla offered him to try out his newest “vibrating humming oscillating metal disc” which he claimed to have “imparted vitality.”
Although the sensation was amazing for Twain, Tesla warned him to step off the platform at a given moment, which he ignored – the following went into history as Mark Twain’s crapped white suit.
- You can get free WiFI from Tesla
The Tesla Statue in the Silicon Valley was an idea which originated with Northern Imagination and was backed by 722 people. It was unveiled on December 7, 2013 and it is famous for two things:
– It provides free WiFi signal and
– It contains a time capsule to be opened on January 7, 2043.