Nikola Tesla: Lord of Lightning

“He will be a child of the storm” were words muttered on the birth-night of one the most enigmatic men that has ever lived. And indeed, Nikola Tesla would prove to be a force of nature to be reckoned with by his peers and to be revered by generations after him. Ahead of his time, the brilliant inventor / engineer / scientist / visionary made groundbreaking discoveries in the production and transmission of electric power. His legacy can be found everywhere. Whenever you plug in an electric device at home (-> alternating current electricity), use wireless power, listen to the radio or go to the doctor’s to have your leg X-rayed, you have Tesla’s achievements to thank for either directly, indirectly or partially facilitating said action.

Oh and let us not forget that a car with his name is currently flying through space, off to finding new horizons.

So Tesla absolutely deserves cool monikers such as The Father of the Electric Age or The Lord of Lightning, even though there were a number of eccentric traits and phobias present in his life and career. Such was his aversion to pearls, for instance, that he refused to engage in conversation with any women wearing them. Then again, Tesla’s phobias and sometimes peculiar behavior probably did nothing but reinforce today’s perception of Tesla as a “mad genius”.

Crucially -and sadly, however, Tesla lacked a sense for business. A circumstance which, together with his somewhat eccentric behavior, contributed to the tragic and heartbreaking turn of his later life. At the time of his death in 1943, Tesla was alone and nearly penniless. As Richard Gunderman writes in his great and solemn tribute to the inventor that appeared in The Conversation in 2018, Tesla could be considered a real-life Prometheus: a titan who brought fire to mankind, only to experience downfall and punishment.

But in any case, the man’s legacy is assured. To me personally, Nikola Tesla represents an inspiration almost like no other. Not just because of his groundbreaking achievements as a scientist and visionary, but also because of his mannerisms. If I could choose to discuss life over dinner with some famous and influential individuals from history, Tesla would be my final pick (the other chairs being occupied by Edgar Allan Poe, Leonardo da Vinci and the person who invented indoor plumbing).

Featured post image: Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

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