Page 17 - The 'X' Chronciles Newspaper - June / July 2018 Edition
P. 17

Danger! Mad Scientist At Work!                                                                                   17

                  DANGER! MAD


           The most brilliant inventor of the 20th
             century died broke, friendless, and
             almost - but not quite - forgotten.

          For 40 years before World War II, one of the
          most famous scientists in the United States was
          an immigrant from Croatia named Nikola Tesla.
          He was a genius inventor but had serious image
          problems. In fact, lots of people thought he was

          Tesla was a classic obsessive-compulsive who
          loved pigeons, the dark, and the number three,
          and was terrified of dirt, germs, and round
          objects, especially pearls. He sometimes signed
          his letters with the initials “G.I.” for Great
          Inventor. Other than that, he was just fine. Well,
          except for the time he announced to the world
          that he’d received radio messages from people
          on Mars and Venus. Or that other time when he
          claimed that if he wanted, he could split the
          earth in two.
                                                          gotten the idea for  AC while a student in     made lots of money - but not our hero. He was
                 Some people probably believed him,       Austria, and he came to America to put his idea  perpetually trying to raise money for his next
          too. He could produce huge electrical arcs,
                                                          into practice. He got a job with Edison when he  invention and didn’t pay much attention to
          lightning bolts, earthquakes, sparks running
                                                          arrived in 1884, but Edison soon  came to see  getting paid for the last one.
          across the ground, and ghostly blue glows in the
                                                          the newfangled  AC system(and  Tesla) as a
          air. In fact, he was the original mad scientist, the
                                                          commercial threat. DC electricity needed thick TESLA, UNPLUGGED
          man who all those wild-haired, wild-eyed men
                                                          cables and power stations every mile, while AC  So forget AC and DC. Tesla had another idea
          in white coast in old Hollywood pictures were
                                                          electricity could more easily transmitted over  entirely. Why couldn’t electricity be transmitted
          based on.
                                                          long distances with much thinner and cheaper   through the air, like radio waves, from public
                                                          cables, and without booster stations along the  transmission stations, so that everyone would
          DR. FRANKENSTEIN, I PRESUME                     way. So Edison did everything he could to      have access to unlimited free electric power?
          The    electricity  flashing    around    Dr.   discredit Tesla and his invention.             What a nut.  At least that’s what Edison,
          Frankenstein’s castle? A direct copy of real-life
                                                                                                         Westinghouse, and all their investors thought.
          conditions  in  Tesla’s lab.  The classic 1931
                                                          YOU’LL GET A CHARGE OUT OF                     Heck, the energy industry was fast developing as
          Boris Karloff movie Frankenstein was the first
                                                          THIS                                           the backbone of  America’s economy.  Tesla
          to use the real Tesla coils to get those weird arcs
                                                          When a New  York dentist named Dr. Brown       could have wiped it out over night.
          of artificial lightning. Even the wacky Dr.
                                                          came up with the idea of the electric chair,
          Emmett L. Brown in Back to the Future is based
                                                          Edison fairly swooned at the thought of the THERE’S NO MONEY IN FREE
          on Tesla,and besides those same Tesla coils, the
                                                          publicity! Plus, he could use it to rub  Tesla’s  STUFF
          anti-gravity skateboards in Back to the Future
                                                          face - and reputation - in the dirt. The electric
          Part II are based on another of the nutty                                                      Tesla’s Wireless Broadcasting System was going
                                                          chair used both DC and AC charges; first there
          professor’s ideas.                                                                             to use two-hundred-foot high towers with giant
                                                          was a jolt of DC to stop the heart, and then a  55-ton copper domes on top. The financier J.P.
                                                          surge of AC to make the heart fibrillate (rapidly
          AN ELECTRIC PERSONALITY                                                                        Morgan put up $150,000 for a prototype, but
                                                          contract its muscle fibers.  The DC actually   pulled out when he found out about the free
          Most of his inventions were credited to other
                                                          killed the subject, nut Edison manipulated the  electricity angle. The tower was dismantled and
          people, the reason being that, strange as he was,
                                                          facts, telling people that first the criminal got a  sold for scrap to pay Tesla’s debts.
          he was more interested in benefiting humanity
                                                          dose of harmless, safe, all-American DC,
          than making money.  The alternating current
                                                          followed by the lethal, dangerous AC from the
          (AC) electricity coming from every wall socket                                                 STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE
                                                          foreign system. “Would you want your wife to
          in the world today was invented by Tesla. That                                                 YEARS
                                                          be cooking with this?” he asked the public, as he
          single invention could have made him a                                                         After that, he never again found serious
                                                          toured around the country electrocuting dogs,
          billionaire, but he tore up his contract with                                                  financial backers for his schemes. He’d seen so
                                                          cats, horses, an orangutan, and once even an
          Westinghouse because he claimed his royalty                                                    many of his great inventions passed off as other
          would bankrupt the company. All he wanted to                                                   people’s work - Marconi getting the kudos for
                                                                 Actually, when they eventually tried the
          do was see unlimited free energy in every home.                                                radio, and Edison eventually managing to pass
                                                          electric chair for real, it was a disaster.  They
                                                                                                         off AC as the work of some of his engineers -
                                                          miscalculated the necessary charge and the first
          AC/DC                                                                                          that Tesla became a recluse.
                                                          subject, an ax murderer named Kemmler,
          This benevolent gesture gave the upper hand to  wasn’t electrocuted but cooked alive.                 Every couple of years he’d hold a press
          Tesla’s arch rival - you may have heard of him -                                               conference to announce some amazing new
          Thomas Edison. Don’t be swayed by visions of    EDISON 1, TESLA 0                              invention, usually with a display of artificial
          a kindly Spencer  Tracy or a bubbly Mickey                                                     lightning bolts to attract attention. Because he
                                                                 The adverse publicity that Edison
          Rooney...this is the real Thomas Edison we’re                                                  never got the money to develop them, the
                                                          organized turned th electricity business away
          talking about.                                                                                 inventions languished in the lab. Between the
                                                          from Tesla and AC for a time, but after a few
                 Tesla wanted to establish his AC system,                                                two World Wars, Tesla became a long-running
                                                          more demonstrations of it’s advantages - many
          but Edison’s company was already committed                                                     joke: the Mad Scientist, always raving about
                                                          organized by  Tesla himself - it eventually
          to its own much more expensive - and            became clear that AC was the superior system,  some new earth-shattering invention that never
          unreliable - direct current (DC).  Tesla had                                                   materialized. []
                                                          and the whole world adopted it. Lots of people
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