Pop icon David Bowie is dead, though he will always live on in my mind as Nikola Tesla in the movie The Prestige.
The Prestige was ostensibly about the rivalry between two turn of the 20th century magicians, but Bowie as Nikola Tesla provides the key scientific element that makes the movie. The rest of the cast in this 2006 movie isn’t so bad either, with some actors you may have heard of: Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Les Miserable, musical theater), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight), Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, Avengers, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Andy Serkis (Gollum in the Lord of the Rings; Caesar in Planet of the Apes), and of course, Michael Caine (every movie ever made).
David Bowie was often described as a chameleon, able to adapt to changing musical genres, genders, and generations. Like Tesla, Bowie was somewhat of a polymath, capable of shifting between writing, performing, and producing music; theatrical acting; and maintaining a cult following rivaling Tesla himself. His influence in creating “glam rock,” “punk rock,” and other innovative musical genres. One biographer claimed in 2002, “it was almost impossible to find a popular artist today that has not been influenced by David Bowie.”
Sounds familiar. Nikola Tesla was also a man ahead of his time whose innovation and influence is still felt today.
David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (now in its 5th printing) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in spring 2016.