15 Shocking Facts About Nicola Tesla
You’ll probably know Nikola Tesla as one of history’s most important inventors. The Serbian-American is probably most prominently linked to modern day AC electricity. As an engineer, and physicist he tinkered A LOT. He was way ahead of his time when it came to a lot of his experiments and inventions. It was only in the ’60s, nearly 20 years after his death, that a unit of measurement was named after him – the tesla. Today, I probably barely even need to explain who Tesla was. But I bet there’s still a lot you don’t know about him. The man was kind of a strange character. Keep reading to find out about his quirks, some of his lesser known qualities, and a few of his ideas that were basically predictions of the future.
15. He Filed A Patent For What Was Basically A Drone
It’s true, in 1898 Tesla filed a patent for what looks a lot like a drone. He seemed to realize that his patent for control of unmanned vehicles could potentially lead to lots of destruction but he also seemed to believe in the concept of mutually assured destruction. His ideas were way ahead of his time. He came up with the concept of controlling these vehicles via electrical waves. I always find it fascinating to see what kinds of stuff inventors of days past came up with. In my mind, it makes those futuristic things that we dream up today so much more attainable. Holodeck, anybody?
14. He Lived On Very Little Sleep
I’m kind of jealous about the fact that Nikola Tesla could survive on so little sleep. Except, I imagine that at some point that causes more harm than anything else. Apparently, Tesla could manage to live on just over 2 hours total of sleep. That’s way less than the recommended guidelines. Here’s the thing, though, this is what he himself claimed, so maybe he was BS-ing. He also admitted to taking naps once in a while. If I was functioning off that little sleep I’d be taking naps anytime I could and they’d probably be way longer than an hour.
13. He Was A Eugenicist
That’s right, Nikola Tesla was a proponent of eugenics. We tend to put people like Tesla on a pedestal. Because he invented amazing things, though, doesn’t mean he wasn’t a flawed human being. There are loads of tumblr posts about how Tesla is a hero and Edison is a crook. But those posts seem to put aside a very important interest of Tesla’s. He was really into the idea of purifying humanity. He envisioned a future, by 2100, where unwanted individuals would be easily purged from society by way of eugenics. Is it possible to seaerate these horrible kinds of ideas from the amazing inventions? Maybe. But I don’t think it’s right to simply brush them aside completely.
12. He Died Poor
Despite his interest in eugenics, he was very interested in improving life for others. He wasn’t super interested in becoming rich so he ended up dying a poor man. He was actually friends with quite a few famous people but he wasn’t at their level when it came to money. He just wasn’t a good entrepreneur. He was a kind of mad scientist who was only interested in his work and because of his obsession he just wasn’t interested in money. Maybe because he wasn’t that good when it came to business. He definitely focused all of his energy on creating and inventing much more than promoting and marketing.
11. In 1926, He Basically Dreamed Up Smartphones
I always thought that we got all our modern technological ideas from Star Trek but it turns out that in 1926, Nikola Tesla apparently thought up what seems to be something very similar to the Smartphones we know and love today. He described that when wireless technology would be applied properly “the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain”. Sound familiar? He also went on to say that in the future “[we] shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance”. It takes a genius to imagine an idea so ahead of its time.
10. As A Child He Did Brain Training
Maybe Nikola Tesla was born super smart but he also spent some of his time during his childhood honing his smarts. As a kid, he worked to train his brain using various exercises. That’s pretty impressive. Most kids just want to play video games or go outside and ride their bikes. Maybe video games are a kind of brain training but nothing as intense as what Tesla used to do. Video games don’t take that much discipline, but doing brain exercises? That takes commitment which most kids don’t have that much of. His childlike training games were his way of trying to hone his memory and critical thinking skills.
9. His Remains Are In A Museum
I could only dream of being put to rest in a museum one day. I love museums so it seems like the perfect resting place to me. Unfortunately, I’m not a genius nor am I famous. So I’ll have to settle with trying to donate my body to a forensic science research center so they can study my corpse as it decomposes. That’s way less glamorous than being placed inside a fancy looking orb. It turns out that there’s been a bit of controversy surrounding Tesla’s resting place. Activists have been working to stop the urn from being moved to a Church. Seems to me that a scientist like Tesla would be perfectly happy with having his urn in a museum.
8. He Was A Germaphobe
Who among us actually LIKES germs? I don’t enjoy the thought of all the yucky microbes hanging around my home. I’m kind of a neat freak and once I get on a cleaning roll, I can’t stop. Everything starts to look dirty and my anxiety levels don’t come down until everything is spotless. I imagine that’s how Tesla was. He was very concerned with proper hygiene since he was very sick as a child and almost died. Contracting a fatal disease isn’t always something you can control, but you can definitely clean as much as possible to avoid having to think about germs.
7. He Was Really Into Pigeons
I’m almost one hundred percent certain that a few days ago I saw a really big pigeon fly into a tree, snatch a bird, and kill it across the street from me. My husband is adamant that it couldn’t have been a pigeon. I’m aware that pigeons aren’t vicious killers, but it really did look like one. I wonder if Tesla ever saw a pigeon murderously devour another bird. Maybe that’s what attracted him to them. The inventor never had a wife but he was pretty obsessed with pigeons. He even formed a strange relationship with a single special pigeon. He even claimed the pigeon gave “a purpose to [his] life”. Wild.
6. He Envisioned A ‘Terrifying Future’ Where Women Were At The Top
Nikola Tesla actually believed that the future held something pretty crazy for everyone. He envisioned a future where women would reign supreme. Sounds great, right? Tesla must have been a feminist! Except, not. He believed this was a kind of terrifying future. He was really bummed out about the rise of women’s rights and thought it was “the greatest tragedy of all”. Really, dude? For someone so smart, Tesla had some strange ideas about women and society. He believed that the fact that women were slowly gaining more rights “was a sign of a deteriorating civilization”. Exaggeration much? Calm down, dude. Get back to your important inventions.
5. Secret Inventions
Nikola Tesla churned out a lot of patents during his life. We’re familiar with some of his more important inventions but with nearly 700 patents to his name, there’s bound to be some interesting stuff that’s flown under the radar. Did you know that Tesla was really into the idea of creating manpowered earthquakes? I’m not sure why someone would use that kind of force for anything but evil, but it’s definitely neat. Tesla even thought up an antigravity device in the early 1900s. It honestly sounds like something out of the X-Files. It really makes me wonder how he came up with some of the stuff he did. Did he have a close encounter?
4. He Was Peculiar About His Food
Listen, if you forget about the eugenics, the pigeon love, and the anti-feminist ideas, I feel like I have a bit in common with Nikola Tesla. I’m a neat freak, I have weird sleeping habits sometimes (don’t we all?), and most important of all, I’m peculiar about my food. I’m all about healthy food, most of the time, but Tesla was on a whole other level. At the end of his life, he was almost exclusively surviving on milk and honey which caused him to rapidly lose weight. So he was basically consuming a liquid-only diet. That cannot have been very healthy.
3. He Was Concerned About The Environment
Nikola Tesla’s concern about the environment just goes to show that humans are complicated creatures. He cared more about the well being of the Earth than he did about some of his fellow man. He was fine with the idea of sterilizing those he thought less than but when it came to the planet, he seems to have been much more invested. He was particularly concerned about the rising use of fossil fuels. He was also nervous about the idea of using up all of the Earth’s resources. I’m pretty sure that Tesla was some kind of sorcerer with the ability to see the future.
2. He Was A Coffee Hater
This is one thing I just cannot understand. Coffee is life. It’s not even about the caffeine. Have you ever smelled fresh coffee beans? The scent is heavenly. Some people find coffee a bit too strong and opt for tea instead. But Tesla was opposed to both brews. He actually believed they were poisonous and that in the future no one would be drinking them. You got that one wrong, Tesla! Weirdly enough, he actually thought alcohol was far superior to coffee and tea and called it the “elixir of life”. He definitely had that backwards. But who knows, maybe he saw way further into the future and in 100 years we’ll all be downing booze and turning our noses up at caffeine.
1. He Was Basically Born Out Of Lightning
Nikola Tesla’s birth explains a lot. His mother actually gave birth to him during a lightning storm. A midwife who was present at Tesla’s birth believed that the intense lightning storm was a very bad sign. She declared that the baby would be a “child of darkness”. Fortunately, Tesla’s mother believed the opposite. It’s interesting to think about this aspect of his birth. The battle between ideas of light and dark. His life seems to have spoken to such a battle. He was interested in bettering the lives of others, saving the environment, and healthfulness. But he was also a believer of eugenics, and was nervous about a future with strong women.
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