Based on original material and previously unavailable documents, this acclaimed book is the definitive biography of the man considered by many to be the founding father of modern electrical technology.
Among Tesla’s creations were
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It has been done! This biography took me so long to read! I began in summer 2016 but couldn’t get into it. Picked it back up at the start of my fall semester this year but couldn’t get into it. Picked it up again at the end of the semester and forced myself to through.
All in all his was a fascinating book that did an incredible job capturing the complicated life of an American Immigrant icon.
While I was reading the book I struggled with how in depth and technical it got with his patents an
Nikola Tesla was an amazing genius. He came very close to winning a Nobel Prize, jointly with Edison. Tesla was an brilliant, arrogant, eccentric character, full of energy. He made numerous fundamental scientific discoveries, and tried, to some extent, to capitalize on his discoveries through a whole host of inventions. He obtained many diverse patents, but he had little business sense, and this was exacerbated by corporations that often infringed on his patents without offering compensation. Co
On the other hand, Tesla was the quintessential “mad scientist”. He was often far ahead of his time, and people did not believe his grandiose ideas and grandiose claims. The thing is, he often came through on his grandiose claims. Before issuing a patent for “teleautomation”, the chief patent examiner insisted on coming to witness Tesla’s invention, and saw for himself that it did work. J.P. Morgan initially invested in Tesla’s “wireless” system so that ships and racing boats could be tracked while at sea. However, Tesla took the investment and proceeded to develop ever-more grand systems to transmit radio waves across the oceans, even around the world. Then, when Tesla started to claim that he was working on wireless transmission of power, Morgan actively discouraged investors. Not because Morgan doubted that Tesla would be successful–on the contrary–he knew that the “wizard” would come through on his fantastic claims. Morgan did not believe in distribution of power “for free.”
Toward the end of his life, Tesla made claims that he had invented a particle-beam death ray. We don’t know if it was true–but it did get some attention from the FBI and other government agencies–after he died! And his eccentricity seems to be boundless–he hired people to feed pigeons in public places around New York City.
My favorite story is about how, in the very earliest days of his wireless experiments in Colorado Springs, he heard three distinct “taps”. Tesla attributed the taps to communications from Martians. Later he was told that Marconi had been simultaneously demonstrating to the British Navy a long-range radio transmission. Tesla, though, still held onto his claim that he was receiving messages from Mars!
This book contains a wealth of detail about Tesla’s life. It quotes many letters and documents written by Tesla, or to Tesla, or about him. Sometimes I felt that the book went into too much detail–it could have been considerably shorter without lessening its impact. The book contains some interesting analyses of Tesla’s life, and some speculations as to why Tesla behaved as he did. The book goes into psychoanalytic speculation about reasons why Tesla became so eccentric–reasons having to do with early events in his life, when he grew up in Serbia. Tesla was the uncle of the author’s father. Nevertheless, this family relationship does not seem to cloud or bias this biography. Both the good and the less-good points of Tesla’s life story are included.
This book is actually the reason I can’t check out anything at the SF Public Library anymore. I took it out years ago, and by the time I started it, it was due back again. But being the lazy bastard I am, I just kept reading it because it was so engrossing, and never renewed it. Tesla was, next to Da Vinci, probably the purest and most intuitive scientific genius ever to have lived. He was also one of the most paranoid and eccentric, but really everyone knows that is a prerequisite for genius. S