By Brandon Engel - Nikola Tesla focused his scientific work within the discipline of energy, concentrating on both its physical and metaphysical components. He sought to understand the seemingly unlimited power held within the natural world - that which binds us to all other lifeforms and the harmony of the universe itself.
The Genius of Nikola Tesla
"The present is theirs; The future, for which I work, is mine"- said the Serbian-born Tesla, now nearly a century ago. He was a brilliant and eccentric creative, who is credited by many as being the true father of modern electrical technology. His discoveries - the polyphase alternating electrical current system, fluorescent lighting, laser beams, the transmission of wireless signals, and many others - made him a pioneering force in the field of science. He foresaw the need for sustainable, renewable power beyond fossil fuels (and wanted to harness the power of Niagara Falls) as well as the use of satellites and other interplanetary communication tools. The breadth of his innovative vision is truly astounding.
The Development of Tesla's Theories
Tesla believed in a "rhythm of life" that directed his actions. According to the man himself, "Knowledge comes from space; our vision is its most perfect set. We have two eyes: the earthly and spiritual. It is recommended that it become one eye. The Universe is alive in all its manifestations, like a thinking animal." While a student in Prague, Tesla studied the philosophy of Aristotle, Hume, and Descartes, as well as the work of Ernst Mach.
But many of Tesla’s personal convictions developed early in life. According to his own reminiscences of his childhood, he was gifted with the power of extraordinary visions, even predicting the outcomes of certain events when he focused his energy. Later in life, many of his experiments were simply visualized, without models or drawings. He honed his theories by elaborating on the concepts within his imagination.
As an enigmatic dreamer with an unusual personality, Tesla was a self-proclaimed celibate who, in his later years, sought most of his companionship from pigeons. These odd proclivities have led many to comment on the occult connections within Tesla’s work - some going so far as to as speculate on his potentially extraterrestrial origins. At one point convinced that he made contact with aliens; after his death several individuals came forward with the hypothesis that Tesla was in fact a Venusian.
Tesla's Theories Today
As the original source of much of today’s most futuristic technology, Tesla’s status as a cult figure continues to grow. He believed in extraterrestrial visitations to earth and claimed to have communicated with creatures from outer space. There are also whispers that the inventor and philosopher was murdered by the Nazis or that the United States government seized his research and buried it. His esoteric ambitions and beliefs have served as the template for many sci-fi characters and movie heros.
David Bowie’s turns as Tesla (figuratively first in The Man Who Fell to Earth, then literally in The Prestige) further cemented his place in cinematic history. But while Bowie’s own outer-space interests also may have contributed to pop culture’s current conceptions of Tesla as more “wizard” than “scientist”, the importance of his inventions withstands. Today’s Tesla Energy division, led by visionary CEO Elon Musk, is still keeping Tesla’s innovative spirit alive. By inventing more efficient energy storage methods, their batteries may one day allow energy providers and homeowners to harness the power of the sun and provide “free energy” to the people of Earth.
Many of Tesla’s inventions have now been consigned to oblivion. Still his dream of providing access to energy all parts of the globe lives on, pushing today’s most innovative scientists towards discoveries that may one day find their place alongside his in the pantheon of universal marvels.
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
The Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla
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