Channelling Your Own Inner Genius
For me, Tesla lights the world, but you can find your own inspiration
Heroes to light the way
We all have heroes we look up to for inspiration, validation, and hope. A few of mine are Eleanor Roosevelt, Carl Sagan, E.O. Wilson, Jane Goodall. Come to think of it, I have far more heroes than I can list.
Make friends with books, like Nikola Tesla did, however, and you can easily discover many, many heroes to light your way.
No hero inspires me more, or gives me more hope that our species can use creativity, intelligence, and compassion, more than Nikola Tesla. And, I believe that what particularly distinguishes him from my other inspirations is just how much of an underdog he is. I think this is true of many of Tesla’s admirers.
History celebrates the many achievements of Edison and his name is synonymous with power, invention, and the whole ushering in of a century. As little school kids, we are taught that Thomas Edison is the very standard for what an enterprising, determined, young American should be.
My personal belief is that a lot of this Edison lauding lore is due to the admonishment of our teachers to keep us quiet and studious, devoted, and unquestioning. Nikola Tesla was none of those things.
The dark side of Edison Electric
And there are countless other reasons to suspect Edison’s reputation.
The Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Brooklyn, New York, electrocuted Topsy, the elephant, to death in 1903. You can watch the video online, if truth is something you like illuminated. I still haven’t gotten over it.
I am not alone.
There is dispute over whether Thomas Edison himself was behind the event, but there is no doubt that he benefited from the publicity his company received. A long-standing rivalry between the effectiveness of alternating current, AC, and direct current, DC, had been raging between Edison and Tesla, his shamefully dismissed, brilliant employee, for some time.
For a very quick review: AC is better for long distance transmission. It uses transformers to help regulate power effectively. It is more effective down to individual requirements. It costs less. It is less wasteful.
That said, It is more dangerous, simply because it is more powerful. But, it may be argued, it is more dangerous in the same way that a delivery truck is more powerful than a little electric car. It is best, to stay off the road, and out of traffic in either case. You wouldn’t want to be hit, after all, by either one.
Back to random electrocution of animals. If drunk history is correct, (why would you doubt it?) Edison did not just play a major part in Topsy’s horrific death. He electrocuted hundreds of animals, lost pets, (your missing Fluffy, or that scrappy do, street dog the whole block looked out for?) He electrocuted cows (the babies!) and even a horse or two.
All of this mayhem was to prove that the much more brilliant, and impoverished, Nikola Tesla’s ideas never got the credit for the light bulb moment we all have in our minds when an “Ah Ha!” moment occurs.
The worst part of all, perhaps? He paid boys twenty-five cents a piece for every stray they brought in. A despicable way to treat children, especially generations of boys who were taught that cruelty is profitable, stealing and lying is cool, and exploitation is acceptable. Talk about man-spreading toxic masculinity.
Tesla had a soft spot for life on Earth
Tesla, on the other hand, was obsessed with reconciling nature’s powers and mysteries with those of humanity. He really believed in the betterment of our species. And as for quaint tales of animal love, he apparently really cared for them, if the feeding, care, and even psychic love for his many pampered — but never confined — New York Apartment pigeons, is any indication.
He advocated for vegetarianism long before it was fashionable. He understood what he called the “cruel barbarity” of animal slaughter, as well as the unhealthy costs to human lives, not only to the physical health of people, but to the use of nature for polluting exploitation.
He was not perfect. This serves to make Tesla even more adorable. He was a germaphobe, and did not like social contact with most people. He seemed especially reserved about women, but this may well be due to the fact that his own mother was a brilliant scientist and the frivolous roles of New York City socialites must have been very off-putting to him.
On the other hand, he fully recognized that bodily autonomy was priceless, a particularly feminist ideal, and he felt that too many people accepted hate, savagery, and oppression.
Strange people help create stranger things
When you find your inspiring genius, pay attention to how he, or she, treats the whole wide world.
Nikola Tesla, besides being a genius, was a very handsome man. He was generous to a fault, often giving extravagant tips to service people. He gave Thomas Edison twenty-hour work days, and significant ideas and insights. He was quirky, and overflowing with strange ideas about everything from psychic energy to human energy machines. This marks him as ahead of his time, and not eager to be held back by stuffy, and rigid close-minded, science of the day.
“My brain is only a receiver. In the universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration.”
This is just one of his many insightful quotes. He had a spiritual side which fully anticipated the one world globalization and gifts of technology we may aspire to find, if we are to survive our tenure on the planet.
Clearly, some people like Elon Musk appreciate the guy. I think it is because he an outsider, a weirdo, a bit mental, a one of a kind, and a man of compassion as well as brilliance.
Tesla gave us Neon light, turbines, the radio, the Tesla coil (Would we even have science fiction movies without it!?) the tele-automation machine (think radio-controlled toys and drones) the power plant and the induction motor.
And that is just the tip of the spark-berg.
All in all, he had nearly 300 patents, and most of them are not yet realized as practical inventions. Yet.