Nikola Tesla Believed Fossil Fuels Were “Barbarous”

“It is quite evident, though, that this squandering cannot go on indefinitely, for geological investigations prove our fuel stores to be limited. So great has been the drain on them of late years that the specter of exhaustion is looming up threateningly in the distance…”
– Nikola Tesla

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla believed that the thermo-dynamic process, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, was “wasteful and barbarous.” In particular he singled out coal; at the time in greater use than natural gas and oil, which were slightly less dirty but rapidly extending in use. Despite these warnings from Tesla, we would all grow to become dependent, some would even say addicted, to these fossil fuels as taxpayer subsidies and government investment in national infrastructure would help make them cheap and accessible. Renewables like wind and solar, of course, did not enjoy government subsidies at that time, and were thus severely disadvantaged.

The mining of coal was especially problematic, Tesla noted, because despite some modern improvement, it still involved significant “dangers to the unfortunates who are condemned to toil deep in the bowels of the earth.” While oil and natural gas were somewhat safer in this regard, (drilling to depth avoided sending people underground), these sources still presented the problem of being finite. Tesla understood that fossil-based resources would eventually run out. And before that would happen, we would reach some level at which the costs of extraction would exceed the revenues that could be earned, making it economically unfeasible.

To this reality we can add the costs that are not accurately captured. Many of these additional costs have been “externalized,” i.e., shifted from the companies that are extracting fossil fuels onto the greater shoulders of society. This includes costs of pollution, particulates and aerosols released to the air, frequent oil spills, catastrophic ecological damage from mountaintop mining, and the rising costs of fossil fuel-related public health and safety concerns. Now that we fully understand the cause of man-made climate change, the trillions of dollars in costs associated with global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels can be added to the total. Even if we ignore these societal costs, the fossil fuel industry receives tremendous levels of taxpayer subsidy in order to artificially create an “economically feasible” industry. If these externalized costs were factored into an honest free market, the lack of economic viability of the continued use of fossil fuels for energy would become as clear now as it was to Tesla.

Another cost often ignored is national security. The Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, and other hotbeds of discord all represent globally important sources of fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas. As one Tesla researcher noted in an apt analogy given Tesla’s interest in pigeons, “if you put all the bird food in one place the birds fight each other for it; if you spread it out for all to eat there is no fighting.” The limited and clustered sources of fossil fuel resources certainly suggest a similar result.

While others at the turn of the twentieth century were busy exploiting coal, iron, aluminum, and drilling for oil, Tesla was already recognizing the limits of those endeavors. Rather than consume resources that were both dirty and finite, Tesla believed we needed to think about conservation. “Whatever our resources of primary energy may be in the future,” Tesla wrote, “we must, to be rational, obtain it without consumption of any material.” He believed that natural, renewable, sources of energy could “eliminate the need of coal, oil, gas or any other of the common fuels.”

[The above is adapted from my e-book, Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time, available for immediate download on Amazon]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. He is also the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press).

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

 

Nikola Tesla Has Died – Nikola Tesla Lives On!

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla passed away 75 years ago, on January 7, 1943.

As I noted in Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity:

Tesla died in a lonely two-room suite—Room 3327 on the thirty-third floor, appropriately divisible by three—at the Hotel New Yorker in midtown Manhattan, not far from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. This was just a few months before the Supreme Court upheld his original patent and gave Tesla credit for invention of the radio. Unfortunately for Tesla, this was long after Marconi had received a Nobel Prize in 1909 on technological ideas “borrowed” from Tesla. While he had become a naturalized American citizen over a half-century earlier, Tesla’s cremated remains now rest in a spherical “Tesla ball”–shaped urn at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

I had the privilege of a private meeting with the Tesla museum director in Belgrade as they were reopening after a renovation in 2016. I’ve stayed in the room next to his at the New Yorker Hotel. I’ve watched Tesla come to off-Broadway.To be among the artifacts of the man is inspiring.

Tesla New Yorker

Tesla lives on in the 21st Century in the form of electric car companies, movies, computer simulations, videos, books, and television. His last laboratory, Wardenclyffe, is once again rising on Long Island to become a Tesla museum and science center (look for my brick!). More and more people are becoming aware of Tesla’s contributions to science and to modern America.

Nikola TeslaI’m happy to say that I’ve played a small role in bringing more recognition to the man. My book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, has just gone into its 8th printing, meaning the number of books in print approaches 100,000. It has also been translated into at least four foreign languages, with more on the horizon.

Because of my book and others, many who had never heard of Tesla, the man (or confused him with Tesla, the car company), have discovered the unique brilliance and personality of a man once held in the highest esteem but for too long forgotten.

Nikola Tesla died 75 years ago, but he lives on today. Share the knowledge.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Science Traveler

Image

Merry Christmas Happy Holidays

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Nikola Tesla Takes on Einstein

Nikola Tesla portraitRotating magnetic fields, alternating current motors and transformers, the Tesla coil, wireless transmission of radio communication, wireless lighting…Nikola Tesla had no shortage of inventions that he could call his own. But these were not the only inventions in which he dabbled. Besides his wireless radio communication and alternating current systems, and like other great inventors from da Vinci to Edison, Tesla was intrigued by a great many other issues. One such issue to which he gave a great deal of thought was the relationship between matter and energy. Late in life he even claimed to have developed a new dynamic theory of gravity, though the details of his theory were never presented. One thing was clear, however, Tesla did not think Albert Einstein had gotten it right when he introduced his theories of relativity: “Tesla continuously attacked the validity of Einstein’s work,” his first biographer John O’Neill would write, “he ridiculed the belief that energy could be obtained from matter.”

Einstein, of course, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” While he is probably best known for his development of “the world’s most famous equation, E = mc2,” Einstein’s greatest contributions were in reconciling the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of electromagnetic fields. He believed that Newtonian mechanics did not adequately accomplish this reconciliation, which led to his special theory of relativity in 1905. Extending this concept to gravitational fields, Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1916. The following year he applied the general theory to model the structure of the universe as a whole.

To vastly oversimplify, general relativity provides for a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time. One key feature is that space-time is both curved and a function of the energy and momentum of matter and radiation. This is why light is bent around planets and other celestial bodies as it is influenced by their gravitational fields. It is also why time passes more slowly the closer the clock is to the source of gravitation (or conversely, why astronauts on a mission to points outside our solar system would return much younger than if they had remained on Earth).

Undeterred by the worldwide preeminence of such a man as Einstein, Tesla, at the ripe old age of eighty-two, wrote that he was fortunate enough to work out “two far reaching discoveries.” One was a dynamic theory of gravity, which he said “explains the causes of this force and the motions of heavenly bodies under its influence so satisfactorily that it will put an end to idle speculation and false conceptions, as that of curved space.” The “idle speculation” of curved space was, of course, one of the key features of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Tesla argued that Einstein’s theories were nothing more than “magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors.”

Tesla’s other far-reaching discovery was a physical truth that he felt could best be expressed by the statement:

“There is no energy in matter other than that received from the environment.”

He argued that no theory could

“explain the workings of the universe without recognizing the existence of the ether and the indispensable function it plays in the phenomena.”

The presence of the ether—the unseen medium between all the bodies of the universe—had already been contested by many scientists, including Einstein. Instead of the ether, Einstein inserted his own space-time construct that allowed space to curve around gravitational bodies. Tesla disagreed with Einstein, saying:

I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.

The question was not inconsequential—if the ether existed then the speed of light would not be constant, it would vary depending on the forces of the celestial bodies. Experiments carried out by Albert Michelson and William Morley in 1887 had already shown that the ether actually did not exist, notwithstanding Tesla’s insistence many decades after this to the contrary.

Still undeterred, Tesla believed that he had discovered what came to be known as “Tesla waves,” which would move faster than the speed of light. He argued that the propagation of currents from his magnifying transmitter—“a peculiar transformer specially adapted to excite the Earth”—would begin with “a theoretically infinite speed” and then later “proceeds [sic] with the speed of light.” But that would not be the end as “from there on it again increases in speed, slowly at first, and then more rapidly,” eventually passing through the Earth to a point diametrically opposed to it “with approximately infinite velocity.” Needless to say this was a direct contradiction to Einstein’s demonstration that the speed of light is a constant and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, at least in a vacuum.

Whether Tesla could have provided some additional insight to Einstein’s thinking on relativity if he had presented his views many years earlier, we will never know. In the end it was Einstein whose theories were written down, underwent scrutiny, and are generally accepted today.

[The above is an adaptation from my book Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity.]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

[Daily Post]

Updates on Tesla, Edison, Lincoln

It’s been a busy year for Tesla, Edison, and Lincoln. Based on the Barnes and Noble website, I’m expecting new printings for all three books. Plus, foreign translations!

The 8th printing of my Tesla book should be available any day now given the information I had received from the publisher. The book is sold out in my local store and temporarily unavailable on the B&N site as they get more books in the warehouse. Buyers at the local B&N tell me they still have brisk sales four years after the original publication. The situation is similar for my Edison book released in 2016, with the local store selling out and more books needed in the warehouse. And my newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is selling well according the manager of my local store. They’ve just restocked the shelves and a new printing is definitely due.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition, Edison has joined Tesla in a Dutch language edition. The European publisher had previously done Dutch, German, and Spanish editions of Tesla so I expect to see the same for Edison. Tesla also is now in a Czech language edition. Hopefully the publisher will pick up the Lincoln book for translation some time next year.

Meanwhile, my recently released Lincoln book is doing well. I recently presented at the DC Historical Society conference in Washington, DC and I’m shortly heading up to Gettysburg for the annual Lincoln Forum. Then on December 12th I’ll present my book to the Lincoln Group of DC (click here to join us).

If that wasn’t enough, I am working on a new Lincoln book, and will be proposing a second Lincoln book in January. Stay tuned for more.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

 

Reflections of a Science Traveler

Kotor, MontenegroToday marks the fourth anniversary of resigning my consulting job to pursue a career science traveling. Recently I caught up with a former colleague who still works at the old firm. We hadn’t spoken in a long time so she asked me whether I had any regrets about my decision. Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied: “No regrets whatsoever.” I left with my eyes facing forward and have never once looked back on that former life.

My new life has given me plenty to behold, including more time to travel and write.

I generally add a few new countries to my list each year. This year had fewer trips but farther destinations. I was in Seoul, South Korea during the election of a new president (to replace the one impeached and indicted), all while North Korea was haphazardly tossing around missiles. Then on to Beijing, China, which was hosting over 30 world leaders (including Vladimir Putin) for the One Belt One Road Summit. Soon I’ll be in roaming around Australia and New Zealand. The 12-hour drive to and from New England squeezed in between these two exotic locations seems tame in comparison. Another New England trip and Gettysburg are likely in the fall.

Writing has included the release of my newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America. This is my third book with Fall River Press, all now in Barnes and Noble stores. I also have two e-books available on Amazon.com (see links at end). My first book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, is going into its 8th printing this fall and has been translated into several foreign languages. Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World is still in stores and may also get a new printing soon.

Meanwhile, I’m working on two new books – one on a specific area of Abraham Lincoln’s interests, and the other a travel memoir (like Paul Theroux or Bill Bryson). By January I might have a third book in progress.

My former colleague also asked a second question: do I get to read a lot? In fact, that has been one of the unanticipated benefits. I’ve increased the number of books read from maybe 50 to over 100 books per year, and broadened my reading interests considerably. Traveling helps. While I don’t read much while I’m on the ground (where my time is spent exploring), the long flights and airport time are ideal for finishing off the latest novel or taking notes on various science, Lincoln, or biography books.

I also have time to do research. I spend some time at the Library of Congress and National Archives, plus make ample use of their online collections and other electronic resources. With nearly 1200 Lincoln books in my own home library, there is no shortage of background material. The travel itself is also research. I regularly incorporate in my books the knowledge gained while traveling, and future books will involve more travel-related topics.

This past several years I’ve been actively involved with the Lincoln Group of DC. As the Vice President of Programs I schedule speakers for our monthly dinner meetings and join the Board in planning – and participating in – a wide variety of other events. Next year I’ll, well, it’s still to be determined what I’ll be doing next year, but likely I’ll still be deeply involved in Abraham Lincoln.

So what will happen in 2018? My tentative plans include considerably more travel to places I’ve never been, including (I hope) to my 6th continent and beyond my 50th country. My writing goal is to finish the Lincoln science book so that it will be in stores no later than early 2019. I’m also piecing together a travel memoir tentatively titled Patagonia Summer that will combine travel, history, and science. The third possible book will likely be a compendium with my Lincoln colleagues. There is still some uncertainty in these plans as experience has taught me that “the best laid plans” often change dramatically.

One thing is for sure. No regrets whatsoever.

See my previous “Reflections” for 2014, 2015, 2016. I’ll likely do a final “reflections” next year on my fifth anniversary, after which I’ll skip to five or ten year reports. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be too famous to write by then. 🙂

[Photo is at Kotor, Montenegro]

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Big News for Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity

Nikola Tesla was an eccentric genius that was born just before the U.S. Civil War and died in the middle of World War II. Since its release, my book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, has been a big reason nearly 100,000 new people have learned about him. And now there is even bigger news.

Tesla, of course, is the reason for widespread use of alternating current – after beating out Thomas Edison’s direct current in the “War of the Currents” – and also pioneered development of the radio, remote controlled robotics, and a number of other major technologies. Today’s Tesla Motors was named in honor of the great inventor.

Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has been a great success. So much so that I just received word that it will be going to a record 8th printing this fall. In these days when most non-fiction books rarely even sell out their first printing, an 8th printing is hugely satisfying. Of course, even more satisfying will be a 9th, then a 10th, and eventually a 100th printing.

But there is even more good news. Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity is not only published in English, there have been Dutch, German, and Spanish translations. At least one more is now going to be added to the list – Czech! Yes, if you’re in Prague you will shortly be able to pick up a copy translated into your home language. And if you’re in Turkey, keep your eyes open because at least two publishers have been in touch with my American publisher to negotiate putting out a Turkish edition.

All this means that the word of Tesla is spreading. And you can help. If you live in a country you think would be interested in Tesla but haven’t had access, talk to your local bookstores. Ask them if they could stock the book. If enough bookstores get requests, they will get word to publishers who can arrange translated editions. How about you, Serbia? Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity is sure to be a hit in Serbian bookstores.

Bonus good news: My newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is in Barnes and Noble bookstores now. You can also find copies of my earlier book, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World, in which Nikola Tesla finally gets his due in an Edison biography.

So help spread the word of Tesla, Edison, and Lincoln. While you’re at it, check out my two e-books on Tesla and Lincoln. And as of this writing there are two more days for you to enter to win a free signed copy of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America on Goodreads.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

How a Cat Helped Nikola Tesla Discover Electric Current

Nikola Tesla portraitOne of the most important events of Nikola Tesla’s youth relates to Tesla’s childhood cat Mačak. As Tesla writes in a letter to a friend’s daughter, at one point during a cold snowy day Tesla “felt impelled to stroke Mačak’s back.” He notes that what he saw “was a miracle which made me speechless…Mačak’s back was a sheet of light, and my hand produced a shower of crackling sparks loud enough to be heard all over the place.” Tesla’s father explained that this must be caused by electricity, like that of lightning, and this thought convinced Tesla that he wanted to pursue becoming an “electrician.”

This experience with Mačak kept Tesla wondering how to harness the amazing electrical power of nature. But first Tesla had to overcome the tradition that required him to enter a course of study for the clergy. After all, his father was a clergyman and with Dane gone the duty of following in his father’s footsteps fell to Nikola. Doing so was also “the fondest wishes” of the mother he so adored. But to Tesla the idea was abhorrent. “This prospect hung like a dark cloud on my mind,” he later wrote in his personal recollections. It simply had no appeal to him. His mind was just too inquisitive, too demanding of deep thought, too eager to explore the development of new ideas. No, the clergy was definitely not something to which Tesla aspired.

Then he got sick. And his life, while at first in danger of being extinguished, took a whole new turn.

Cholera was a deadly disease in the 1800s, especially in villages like those where Tesla grew up. An epidemic of cholera took off in Tesla’s native land and nothing could be done to battle it. “People knew nothing of the character of the disease,” Tesla would later relate, and sanitation was nearly nonexistent. Tesla lamented the lack of understanding of the causes of the epidemic. The townspeople “burned huge piles of odorous shrubbery to purify the air,” thinking that somehow the stench would stem the horrible tide of death. Or perhaps it was merely to cover up the stench of death itself. In any case, the real problem was the water, and the people “drank freely of the infected water and died in crowds like sheep.”

Tesla at the time was away from home, just finishing his eleven years of public education. Unfortunately, rather than staying away—and against “peremptory [sic] orders” from his father—Tesla rushed home to Gospić. Stricken down with cholera almost immediately upon his return Tesla spent the next nine months struggling to stay alive with “scarcely the ability to move” and exhausted of all vitality. Despite being given up for dead by the local physicians, who must have been right most of the time given the number of people who succumbed, Tesla survived the experience “on account of my intense desire to live.” His father still wanted Nikola to join the clergy, but in an effort to stimulate the life forces of his ailing son, promised to let Tesla study engineering should he recover.

After hearing this, Tesla’s recovery was miraculous. His desire to live restored, Tesla showed amazing vitality in less than a week, something quite unexpected after nearly nine months of constant illness. Perhaps as a result of having the onus of the priesthood lifted off his shoulders (or perhaps as a result of creative memory from a resourceful man decades later), Tesla returned to health quickly with the knowledge that he was to enter engineering school within only a few months.

His childhood was over. And his long and eventful path toward becoming “the inventor of the 20th Century” was about to begin.

[Adapted from my book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

[Daily Post]

5 More Things You Didn’t Know About Nikola Tesla

Happy Birthday, Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla was one of the most famous inventors of his age, and then he was mostly forgotten, dying in near poverty. In recent years Tesla has seen a resurgence in popularity as Tesla Motors has brought the Serbian-American inventor back into the limelight. [And perhaps my book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, has played a small role in spreading the Tesla word to the masses.]

Previously I revealed 5 things you probably didn’t know about Nikola Tesla. In honor of his July 10th birthday, here are 5 more.

1) He was actually born on the cusp of July 9th and 10th. As I write in my book:

As though it had been ordered up by a filmmaker’s special effects department, the threatening storm arrived just as Djouka Tesla went into labor. As she prayed for an easy delivery of her fourth child, the roar of the thunder drowned out her stifled cries. Precisely at midnight the cries transferred from Djouka’s lips to those of the newly born Nikola. In an omen that could not have been scripted more prophetically, a lightning bolt crackled from the sky and lit up the small house just as Nikola entered this world.

Startled, the midwife turned to the young mother and said

“Your new son is a child of the storm.”

“No,” responded Djouka, “He is a child of the light.

And so it seems that, from the beginning, Nikola Tesla was destined to electrify the world.

2) He was fond of practical jokes. Though often reclusive and introverted, Tesla was in his element when it came to showing off his inventions. He would wave wireless light sabers in front of mystified scientists, regale party-goers with feats of memory, and if he could lure unsuspecting celebrities into his laboratory, play practical jokes on them. He once even got Mark Twain to nearly pee his pants [check out the full story here].

3) The sight of pearl earrings would make him nauseous. He admitted to several idiosyncrasies, once telling a friend:

I had a violent aversion against the earrings of women but other ornaments, as bracelets, pleased me more or less according to design. The sight of a pearl would almost give me a fit but I was fascinated with the glitter of crystals or objects with sharp edges and plane surfaces. I would not touch the hair of other people except, perhaps, at the point of a revolver. I would get a fever by looking at a peach and if a piece of camphor was anywhere in the house it caused me the keenest discomfort.

4) He invented robotics. Or at least, a wireless remote controlled boat. Setting up a tank in Madison Square Garden he slid a large odd-shaped boat into the water. Asking the gathered audience to tell the boat to turn this way and that way, Tesla secretly controlled its direction via radio waves. It was 1898 and the first time anyone had shown the ability to do such “magic.” [More on robot boats here.]

5) He was a science fiction star. Perhaps more accurately, he was the inspiration for science fiction stories. It all started when Tesla was experimenting with wireless radio signals in Colorado Springs. One night he recorded what he was convinced was directed messages from some far out source in space. He later was ridiculed for this, but a close friend and publisher Hugo Gernsback decided to take advantage of the idea and often used Tesla’s experiments as a basis for science fiction stories. It’s perhaps no surprise that in recent years Tesla has gained visibility as a popular science fiction figure in computer games, movies, and books.

Interestingly, one of Tesla’s rivals in the AC/DC wars, Thomas Edison, was also into science fiction. He even started writing a science fiction novel (though he never finished it).

One final note – while Tesla and Edison were rivals in the “war of the currents,” they were generally friendly with each other and mostly veered into separate careers that rarely overlapped. Both Tesla and Edison made marks in the world, but both would agree that that they were very different men of invention. [More on that here]

But today is all about Tesla.

Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla!

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Nikola Tesla and Science Fiction

Nikola Tesla once suggested that “the possibility of beckoning Martians was the extreme application of [my] principle of propagation of electric waves.” While dropping the “talking with planets” idea once he returned to New York from Colorado Springs, he did maintain a belief that “there would be no insurmountable obstacle in constructing a machine capable of conveying a message to Mars, nor would there be any great difficulty in recording signals transmitted to us by the inhabitants of that planet.” Assuming, Tesla noted, that “they be skilled electricians.”

Interest in the theory was heightened by a Margaret Storm book called Return of the Dove. Later, another book by Arthur Matthews (Wall of Light: Nikola Tesla and the Venusian Spaceship) suggested that Tesla not only talked with extraterrestrials—he was one! Science and science fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback often used his friend Tesla’s ideas as seeds for science fiction stories, thus forever linking Tesla’s name with science fiction.

Which gets me to two new science fiction books wherein Nikola Tesla battles extraterrestrials invading the Earth. Author L. Woodswalker has taken many aspects of Tesla’s real life and woven them into two thrilling science fiction books that I highly recommend. Click on the book titles to get to the Amazon pages. Here are my reviews on Goodreads:

Tesla's Signal

 

 

Tesla’s Signal

Marvelous science fiction. L. Woodswalker authors a cleverly written exploration of alien invasion that masterly weaves real history with fantasy and surreality in a series of intricately woven story lines. Those who are familiar with Nikola Tesla will recognize the deft intertwining of Tesla’s real inventions, quirks, and personality traits with extrapolations to what they have become in the minds of many a Tesla aficionado. Those unfamiliar with Tesla will still find themselves rabidly engaged in the requisite alien races, the fight between good and evil, and some surprising romantic tension spliced into exciting action. All together here are the makings of a great SF novel. Well done!

 

 

Tesla’s Frequency

I loved this book even more than the first one (Tesla’s Signal). A must-read for anyone interested in Tesla and/or historical science fiction. L. Woodswalker once again constructs a marvelous story line, deep and interesting characters, and beautifully written dialogue. Woodswalker deftly weaves reality (Tesla’s actual inventions, Hitler’s actual plans) with fantasy (rumors of Tesla inventions that never came to fruition, fictional characters) and science fiction (space aliens). The resulting fast-paced, exciting ride pitting good versus evil keeps the pages turning as the famous inventor, his white pigeon side-kick, and an intriguing young girl battle the bad guys to save the world from both Hitler and aliens.

Great writing, great story, and Nikola Tesla. What more could you ask for? I highly recommend both this book and Woodswalker’s earlier Tesla thriller, Tesla’s Signal.

David J. Kent is and avid traveler. His most recent book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.