Things We Love: Meghan Ralston edition

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From the May 9, 2013 edition

Editor’s Note: This Things We Love focuses exclusively on Nikola Tesla, because why not?

Nikola Tesla — father of modern electricity

One of the most underrated scientists in history, Nikola Tesla could kick Edison's ass any day of the week. Here are five reasons why.

Tesla was the quintessential underdog of science. He laid the foundation of scientific research for at least 100 years — and didn't get much credit for any of it. With more than 278 patents in 26 countries, some of his many accomplishments are: alternating current, radio, wireless transceivers, radar, X-rays, hydro-electric power plants, cryogenic engineering, transistors, radio astronomy and discovering the resonant frequency of the Earth itself, proving it to be a conductor of electricity all on its own by producing artificial lightning of up to 1 million volts and 135 feet long. The sound of the lightning could be heard 15 miles away from his lab.

Tesla didn't write down his notes; he had a photographic memory. He envisioned his inventions in great detail in his mind and then made them to spec from memory alone. Tesla was very concerned with other inventors stealing his ideas — mainly because they were.

His was a labor of love. Tesla researched and invented countless things in his time, but almost all of them were intended to help the entirety of mankind. He wanted to provide power to everyone for free, and to that end was the first scientist to conceive of the ionosphere, more than 60 years before it could be proven – and then named the Schumann Resonance.

The man made science an art. He would regularly hold social gatherings at his lab, calling them “salons.” He would demonstrate his newest and most flamboyant inventions, often including the audience as part of the experiment. Tesla didn’t just know science; he knew how to make people care about science by making it cool.

Lastly — and this one might be my favorite he was friends with Mark freaking Twain. They got close after Tesla cured Twain's constipation — which was apparently pretty bad. Their favorite thing to do was play with X-ray guns that Tesla had invented. They would take turns firing the gun at one another's arms, legs and even skulls. 

I highly suggest you follow reading this article with about 15 minutes of internet trolling: Start here:

Oatmeal Cartoon:  HYPERLINK "http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla" theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

Drunk History:  HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gOR91oentQ" youtube.com/watch?v=3gOR91oentQ

Then go take a look at the new effort to build a museum on Tesla’s old lab grounds:

Oatmeal Fundraiser:  HYPERLINK "http://theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_museum" theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_museum