The Oatmeal, Elon Musk, and Nikola Tesla – The Rise of Wardenclyffe

David J. KentThe Oatmeal has done it again! The popular online comic series, created by Matthew Inman, is helping to finish the job of building Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe into a world class museum and science center. His audacity managed to raise over $1.3 million in 2012 for the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe to buy the property. And now in an even more audacious move he has asked Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk to pony up the $8 million still needed to turn convert the property into a usable venue.

This is Elon Musk’s reply:

Wow. This is exciting news for people like Jane Alcorn at the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, Nikola Lonchar at the Tesla Science Foundation, and myriad other Tesla fans around the world that contributed to saving Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe from demise. Even the publisher of my book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, is happy (especially since the second printing will be in Barnes and Noble stores in July).

Now you’ll notice that Elon Musk didn’t actually commit to funding the entire $8 million needed (though that would be nice if he did…hint, hint). Details of how this moves forward are obviously yet to be defined. But it’s an amazing first step.

So how did this come about? The Oatmeal did it. I’ve discussed previously how Matthew Inman at the Oatmeal spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign that enabled purchase of the Wardenclyffe property. I had the pleasure of meeting Inman last year at the Tesla Memorial Conference held at the New Yorker Hotel.

Inman took the next step this week in a two-part spread on The Oatmeal. Part 1 talked about “What it’s like to own a Tesla Model S.” It’s turns out it’s pretty cool (in a magical space car kind of way). Part 2 gets to the nitty gritty (which is an idiom from childhood whose actual meaning still escapes me). Part 2 is called “Man vs Motor” and talks about all the super cool stuff Elon Musk is into. Okay, the envy factor is at a high level here as you read about Musk’s various endeavors beyond Tesla Motors, like SpaceX and James Bond’s super-duper Lotus Esprit submarine car. I guess when you invent PayPal, then sell it to eBay for $1.5 billion (that’s billion with a capital “B”), you have some spare change for innovation.

The Oatmeal asked Elon Musk to fund the entire $8 million needed. Talk about audacity.

In any case, The Oatmeal two-parter went up this week, and Elon Musk quickly responded with the tweet above. Happy dances all around.

It’s not that easy, of course. Much more has to be done, including filling in whatever balance is necessary to get the museum built. But right now it looks like the dream of turning Nikola Tesla’s last laboratory into a reality is actually going to happen.

Thank you Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), Elon Musk, and all the people who have worked so hard to bring Nikola Tesla’s legacy to the modern world. I’m happy to have played a small role in that process.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity. You can order a signed copy directly from me, download the ebook at barnesandnoble.com, and find hard copies at Barnes and Noble bookstores, as well as online at B&N.com and Amazon.com.

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4 thoughts on “The Oatmeal, Elon Musk, and Nikola Tesla – The Rise of Wardenclyffe

    • Thanks, Jane. And thanks to all the hard work you and your group have done over the years to make the dream of Wardenclyffe a reality. Let me know when you find out what Elon Musk plans to do and I’ll help get the word out.

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