I just finished a great book on Tesla. I’ve always been fascinated by the man-he always seemed to me to be “larger than life”-he invented AC electric transmission, the AC motor, wireless , the modern speedometer, and a host of other basic inventions. Yet today, he is almost unknown-ask any high school kid-he will know the name of Edison, but Tesla draws a blank. In turn of the century NYC, Tesla was as well known as is Clinton today-he was friends with Mark Twain, George Westinghouse, and many famous people-yet he died in a seedy NYC hotel, penniless and forgotten. My question-why have all the historians robbed this great man of his rightful place in history? The biography even hints that Tesla invented the radio-23 years before Marconi filed his first patent!
Long life the name of TESLA!

Ironic that the band named Tesla suffered the same fate.

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Well, he’s not completely unknown. He has a unit named after him (the magnetic flux density is measured in Teslas). Of course, it’s a pretty obscure unit, known only to engineers …

I guess all the good units were already taken. :wink:

The Cat In The Hat

I think that Tesla’s useful inventions have been overshadowed by a few wacky ones, like his plan to deliver electricity to every point on Earth by transmitting it through the air.

You can read all about Tesla’s idea of broadcast power from one of Cecil’s columns:

Not to take anything away from Tesla, but induction coils and transformers weren’t/aren’t quite as stimulating to the general public as the light bulb and the phonograph.

Didn’t he have a Howard Hughes-esque germ phobia toward the end of his life?

I’d say that Tesla would be totally forgotten if it wasn’t for his eccentricities. Which do you think is more likely to make you memorable; inventing the speedometer or making plans to electrify the Earth’s atmosphere? Inventing an AC transformer or being afraid of pearls?

hey MAN- Hyperpearlastrandophobia is NO joking matter. They don’t need pity, they just want to be treated like eveyone else.


I’m not sure what they’re teaching in highschools these days, but when I was in high school we definately learned Tesla’s name since it a unit of magnitism as mentioned earlier in this thread that one needs in certain types of equations. I’ve forgotten a lot of the details, having not used them since then (insert dim memories of trying to puzzle things about magnetic fields out and everybody in the class trying to write left handed so they could free up their right hand for the “right hand rule” :slight_smile: ). But I can’t imagine a high school senior never having heard the name before!

peas on earth

I think you have it backwards - it’s not amazing that Tesla is unknown, it’s amazing that the famous inventers are. Most of the ones that we remember had a flair for self-promotion, and or made news because of personal eccentricities and/or unorthodox views on subjects that mattered to people.

There are an awful lot of prolific inventors that no one knows outside of their field.

Here’s what the average high school graduate knows about inventors: The Wright brothers invented the airplane, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, Thomas Edison invented everything else.

Speaking of Edison, there was a great Simpsons episode about him… “Damn you, Thomas Edison!”

And, I was into the band Tesla in high school, and remembered reading about him (I think the band put a little bio of him in one of their album liners – I think “The Great Radio Controversy”) when I got to physics class in 11th grade.

Kooky scientist, great band.

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