Nikola Tesla – what you don’t know about him

Nikola Tesla in his time, unfortunately, was forgotten and died in loneliness and poverty, but today the famous inventor and undoubtedly one of the geniuses of the twentieth century is back in favor, and some of his craziest ideas are finally being realized. What don’t we know about him?

1) Tesla was born in the middle of a storm

Nikola Tesla may have owed his later love of electricity to the fact that he was born during a summer thunderstorm, on the night of July 10, 1856, in the village of Smiljan, then located in Austria-Hungary and today in Croatia.

2 Tesla suffered from insomnia

The inventor himself claimed to need only two hours of sleep a day, but it is not known whether this was really convenient for him or whether it was a classic case of insomnia. And that’s not the only disorder he’s struggled with, as he’s also suffered from obsessive-compulsive neurosis, which is where his aversion comes from.

Tesla reportedly hated jewelry and round objects, and so the object he simply could not stand was pearls – he refused to talk to a woman who was wearing jewelry made of them.

4 – Edison was not his mortal enemy

Although in pop culture it’s been perpetuated that Thomas Edison was Tesla’s mortal enemy this was actually not the case – they were rivals and even happened to work together. Of course, they were on opposite fronts of the war between direct and alternating current, but modern historians compare the relationship between the two men to that between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – one was a brilliant inventor and innovator, and the other a monstrously efficient businessman with a flair for marketing.

5. Tesla predicted smartphones

Tesla was obsessed with the idea of abandoning wires – just to mention his plan for free energy, which absorbed him completely. He dreamed about sending wireless electricity to all the people in the world, but not only, because he also saw in his mind’s eye pocket devices that would “transform the Earth into one big brain” – enabling instant communication from every corner of it. Today, every one of us has such a device in our pocket – it is a smartphone, but do we use it as Tesla dreamed of?

6. Tesla was an environmentalist

In Tesla’s time, ecology was not such an important issue, but the famous inventor noted quite correctly that the Earth’s resources are finite, and we are depleting them at an alarming rate. Therefore, one of his dreams was to discover renewable energy sources.

7. Tesla was a humanist

Although he was an engineer and an extremely scientific mind, it did not prevent him from being a humanist – he did everything believing that he would be able to improve the quality of life of mankind. This also had its downside – Tesla was not very successful in business, which unfortunately ended up with him dying without a penny to his name. He once said: money does not have the value that man gives it. I have invested all my money in experiments that have made discoveries that have allowed people to lead slightly better lives.

8 Tesla was popular

Before he fell into disgrace, Tesla was very popular – his friends included Mark Twain, famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt (pictured) and fabulously rich industrial magnates Henry Clay Frick and Thomas Fortune Ryan.

9. Tesla relieved the bowels of Mark Twain

Tesla had a powerful oscillator in his laboratory, the vibrations of which were transmitted throughout the building, thus giving rise to the legend that he had an earthquake machine there. One time when Tesla was visited by Mark Twain, who suffered from bowel problems, Tesla turned on the machine and after only a few dozen seconds the writer had to evacuate to the toilet.

10 – Tesla had an excellent memory

Tesla had a perfect, photographic memory – he could memorize entire books, but it didn’t stop there – his spatial imagination worked so perfectly that he had detailed plans of all his inventions in his head. He claimed that he developed this last ability in childhood to cope with the terrifying nightmares from which he suffered. These nightmares, at least in part, were said to be the result of the death at age 12 of Tesla’s older brother Dane, who fell from a horse.

11. Tesla was a joker

Few people know that Tesla liked to play pranks on others. Once asked by a New York World reporter why he had such light eyes with such dark hair, he replied that he used to have darker ones, but his work forces him to make such a mental effort that his eyes brighten.

Tesla’s famous Tower on Long Island, where he tested wireless data and power transmission, was blown up by the American government during World War I because it feared that the Germans were using it to spy on radio transmissions. A more prosaic explanation for this action is the insistence of Tesla’s creditors, who cleaned up the remains and sold it for scrap, recovering some of their money.

13. Tesla loved pigeons

Tesla fed pigeons for years and made no secret of his love for these birds, but his favorite was a white dove that flew into the inventor’s room at the St. Regis Hotel at night. Tesla claimed that the bird told him it was dying, and when it finally happened – the dove gave up the ghost – the inventor said that something important was gone from his life and his work was finished.

14 Some of Tesla’s inventions are still secret today

When Tesla died, some of his papers went to his family, some to a museum in Belgrade, but a good portion were appropriated by the U.S. government, which still holds many of these documents as classified. What might Tesla have been working on? His big dream was free energy and perhaps he was able to make a breakthrough that would shatter the world order as we know it? Or perhaps he succeeded in developing the death ray that he boasted about? We will probably never know, because even today when citizens request access to these documents on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act, they receive them in a very limited form.

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