Tag Archives: Nikola Tesla

10 Obscure Conspiracy Theories You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Nikola Tesla Wasn’t God And Thomas Edison Wasn’t The Devil

Alex KnappBy Alex Knapp via Forbes

“It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.” – Mark Twain
Image: theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

Image Courtesy: theoatmeal.com

The Oatmeal is a fantastic comic that I recommend that you make a habit of reading. However, even the greatest can go astray, and I’m pained to admit that The Oatmeal has done so regarding someone I regard very highly, and that’s Nikola Tesla. Alas, The Oatmeal has fallen prey to Tesla idolatry, confusing his genius for godhood and of course, setting up the now all-too-common ‘Edison as Tesla’s arch-villain’ narrative.
There are quite a few errors and misconceptions about both Tesla and Edison in this comic. But they’re errors that I’ve seen before and they are often repeated, so it’s worth the time, I think, to address some of the big ones.

Tesla Didn’t Invent Alternating Current And He Wasn’t A Major Power In The War Of The Currents

Let’s start with the first thing the comic says: “In a time when the majority of the world was still lit by candle power, an electrical system known as alternating current and to this day is what powers every home on the planet. Who do we have to thank for this invention that ushered humanity into a second industrial revolution? Nikola Tesla.”
This is just wrong. Alternating current was developed in principle by Michael Faraday and in practice by Hippolyte Pixii in the early 19th century. Practical devices employing AC in the medical world were developed before Tesla was even born. Contemporaries of Tesla working for George Westinghouse developed practical methods of distributing AC power from power plants before Tesla came to work for Westinghouse. Tesla himself actually studied the use of AC in college – he had an electrical engineering degree.

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10 Silly Theories That Tried To Prove Aliens Exist

By Jo Rodriguez via Listverse

Is there life elsewhere in the universe? It’s becoming increasingly likely that life must exist somewhere out there, but theories on aliens closer to home have ranged from misguided to idiotic.

10 • Viking Landers Finding Life On Mars

aliens MarsPhoto2 817_300px_300pxDuring the ’70s, NASA’s Viking landers probed Martian soil, eagerly looking for signs of life on the Red Planet. While the landers did not find actual microorganisms, traces of carbon dioxide turned up in the collected samples. Some scientists looked at the results and concluded that living organisms had to be on the planet, producing the compound.

The findings have been disputed for decades. Recently, some scientists have concluded that iron particles in Martian soil could have oxidized carbon compounds that exist naturally there.

Though evidence from Viking may not point to current Martians, carbon in the soil may still indicate that life once existed on the planet. Today’s research focuses less on finding living organisms there and more on investigating if the atmosphere could preserve traces of life even after long stretches of time.

9 • Arthur C. Clarke And Martian Vegetation

0212_300pxBeloved author and screenwriter Arthur C. Clarke long believed in life on Mars. In 2001, Clarke downloaded several photos from NASA’s website captured by the Mars Global Surveyor and was delighted to see what he thought were trees.

Clarke spoke to a crowd in his home in Sri Lanka, saying that the pictures showed things that were growing on the planet’s surface. Clarke said, “I’m quite serious when I say I have a really good look at these new Mars images. Something is actually moving and changing with the seasons that suggest, at least, vegetation.” In another interview, he joked, “I’m now convinced that Mars is inhabited by a race of demented landscape gardeners.”

The images were actually simply sand dunes, covered in or affected by frozen carbon dioxide. Over time, dark sand cascades down the dunes, leaving streaks that may look like trees to the less educated eye.

8 • Crazy Experiments To Contact Martians

0312_300pxIn 1820, German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss sought to incorporate the work of Pythagoras in his quest to communicate with alien life on Mars. Gauss suggested clearing a large patch of Siberia and planting wheat for miles in a shape that geometrically illustrates the Pythagorean Theorem. By harvest season, the bright yellow crop-filled areas would contrast with the forest’s darker coloring. Gauss believed that Martian observers could spot this gigantic triangle on Earth with a small telescope.

Other odd ideas were also popular during the 19th century. Astronomer Joseph Littrow suggested digging trenches measuring 30 kilometers (20 mi) in length and shaped in various geometric patterns across the Sahara. We’d then fill them with kerosene and light them up. A Frenchman, Charles Cros, suggested building a huge mirror that could focus sunlight and burn messages into the very surface of Mars.

7 • Martians Contact Nikola Tesla

Tesla Aliens_300px_300pxNikola Tesla may have been one of the most brilliant scientists in human history, but he also falsely claimed to have received artificial signals of extraterrestrial origin—he said they were from Mars or Venus.

In a letter to the New York Times, Tesla wrote of how Mars, of the two planets, could support life. He viewed the distance of the planets from the Sun in terms of evolution. Venus was at a youthful stage, perhaps unable to fully sustain humanoid life. Earth was at full growth. Mars had reached old age, yet it had passed through prime biological and technological evolutionary stages.

Tesla suggested ways to improve our means to communicate with Mars, first by relocating our observatories to send clearer signals through the atmosphere. In 1937, Tesla’s work led him to believe that he could win the Pierre Guzman Prize of 100,000 francs for “the first person who will find the means of communicating with a star and of receiving a response.” The prize rules excluded contact with Mars, however, because that would have been “too easy.”

The public has never had a chance to analyze Tesla’s supposed observation, but it is likely that he actually detected the pulsing of distant stars. This was far from the intelligent transmission he had claimed to see, but it was still an impressive accomplishment.

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10 Uncomfortable Truths About Nikola Tesla

tesla_125pxBy Gregory Myers via Listverse

Nikola Tesla has become something of an Internet hero. According to legend, he was a mad genius who almost never got the credit he deserved in the money-hungry world of science. It’s easy to argue that Tesla didn’t make it further because of his eccentricities: He hated everything, suffered from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, and might have been autistic. The truth, however, is far simpler: Many of his ideas just weren’t viable. Although many people would like to believe otherwise, Tesla was far from perfect.

10 • Alleged Eidetic Memory

Eidetic Memory_300pxIt’s often claimed that Tesla never needed to write anything down because he had either a photographic or eidetic memory. While scientists have not ruled out the claim, the researchers who have studied the phenomenon have admitted that they can’t even prove its existence, although others have pointed out flaws in their methodologies.

As a brilliant scientist and inventor, it’s quite possible that Tesla had excellent visual memory, but it was never tested. It’s certainly not true that he never needed to write anything down—Tesla kept copious notes on his inventions and ideas, many of which have survived to this day. Scientists were thrilled by the possibilities they might contain, but upon examination, these notebooks were found to be highly speculative and contain no useful scientific knowledge.

9 • Irresponsibility With Money

Irresponsibility With Money_300pxMany people claim that Tesla died penniless, and some go so far as to say he always was. This is decried as a great injustice against such a brilliant mind. The truth, much like the man himself, is a little more complicated. There is some evidence that he could have made more money if his patents had been secured better or he had not been exploited by people like Thomas Edison. Tesla never cared much for the business aspect of his work, though, and even if he had made a fortune, he likely would have blown it.

Tesla had a reputation for hemorrhaging money. He lived in fancy hotels and sunk the rest of his money into increasingly ambitious—and expensive—projects. He had a history of borrowing money from friends and getting evicted from those hotels. He would sometimes even leave some of his notebooks behind as collateral for the debt when he moved out.

Tesla once commented on his poverty when the city tried to force him to pay a tax bill, admitting that he had no money and “scores” of other debts he owed. He explained that he had been living on credit at the Waldorf for several years. He had plenty of opportunities to pay off his debts and keep his patents from lapsing, but instead, he maintained his lavish lifestyle until the day he died.

8 • Wild Claims

Wild Claims_300pxThanks to the Tesla revival, every absurd claim he made to newspapers back in the day is now being repeated as fact. The truth is that Tesla made many claims so far out of left field that they would destroy a scientist’s credibility even today, often with no evidence or results to back them up. But if Tesla was crazy, he was crazy like a fox. Oftentimes, his claims were reported shortly before the historical experiments of other scientists.

For example, when Marconi was gearing up for some important radio signal tests, Tesla told the media that he had already received radio transmissions that he believed were from Mars. With his technology, he claimed, we would soon be able to communicate with other planets almost instantaneously. Other projects he claimed to be working on included a torpedo that could be recalled even after being fired and a powerful death ray.

As bizarre as these claims sounded, they gave the impression that Tesla was light-years ahead of everyone else. But if the general public was impressed, the scientific community was decidedly not, regarding Tesla as being mostly full of hot air. While this is an overreaction—Tesla certainly did contribute to our body of scientific knowledge—the plausibility of many of Tesla’s inventions is greatly exaggerated.

7 • Strange Visions

Visions_300pxTesla’s tall tales weren’t confined to his inventions or supposed interactions with Martians. He also believed that he received a variety of important visions. The first occurred when he was walking in the park with a friend after suffering a nervous breakdown due to his constant lack of sleep.

According to Tesla, he had a vision of the entire model for his AC motor and started drawing it in the dirt. Considering that he had already stated that he had been thinking about the idea for about six years, he probably wasn’t being entirely truthful.

His second “vision” occurred much later in life, involving his beloved pigeons. He claimed that he was alone in his hotel room one night when a white pigeon for whom he harbored particularly great affection came to see him. He was then suddenly blinded by two powerful beams of light that communicated to him that he had finished all of his life’s work and would die soon.

6 • Insomnia And Addiction To Work

Insomnia_300pxTesla’s visions could probably be more reasonably attributed to his lack of sleep than any mystical properties. He was known to be a workaholic, to the point that any kind of rest was inconceivable. He claimed that he went to bed at 5:00 AM and rose only five hours later, and only two of those hours were spent sleeping. Once a year, he indulged himself and actually slept all five hours. He never stopped thinking about his work, even when he was snoozing.

There’s no doubt that Tesla’s insomnia had a profound impact on his physical and psychological health for his entire life, but it’s likely that its extent was another of his exaggerations. Humans simply aren’t capable of maintaining such a lack of sleep and remaining alive. However, it is possible Tesla had simply deluded himself. The hotel employees who attended his room said they often found Tesla standing silently, apparently awake but totally unaware of his surroundings. It’s likely that he slept more than he realized, falling into these nap-like trances as a natural reaction to that level of sleep deprivation.

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10 Unbelievably Insane UFO Conspiracy Theories

By Marc V. via Listverse

Thanks to never-ending reports of encounters and sightings, UFOs are easily one of the most recognized and well-known icons of modern pop culture. In fact, the fascination has even spawned whole religions with UFOs and aliens as the centerpiece. Of course, we also mustn’t forget the different UFO conspiracy theories being continuously peddled by people who either really want to know the truth or are just plain wacko. In any case, it’s certain that these conspiracy theories will never go out of style, especially when most of them are just downright insane.

10 • There Is An Alien Satellite Hovering Over Earth

1-black-knight_300pxThis conspiracy theory states that a 13,000-year-old satellite called the Black Knight is orbiting our planet. As the story goes, Nikola Tesla was the first man to discover its existence after he began receiving radio signals in 1899 which he believed came from space, a claim also made by amateur radio operators in the early 20th century. Later on, newspaper reports in the 1950s and ’60s detailing the discovery of a mysterious object in space coupled with supposed photographic evidence helped to fuel belief in the Black Knight’s existence.

If this supposed satellite really does exist, then why is it there? According to Scottish writer Duncan Lunan, the Black Knight satellite is actually a space probe that contains a map to a faraway alien planet called Epsilon Bootis, and the unidentified radio signals are in fact an attempt by those inhabitants to communicate with humans. Although skeptics have sought to debunk the alien satellite as nothing more than space junk or debris, believers have continued to insist otherwise.

9 • MacArthur And Alien Warfare In The Future

MacArthur aliens1024_300px_300pxDid Douglas MacArthur, the man who led the US against the Japanese and later the Koreans and Chinese, foresee a future war against aliens? According to a supposed speech he made in 1955, MacArthur warned that all countries of the Earth should unite, because the next war would involve humanity against aliens from other planets. Conspiracy theorists closely tie the general’s statements with his alleged involvement in the creation of the ambiguous Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, a government agency supposedly tasked with investigating mysterious UFO crashes in the 1950s and which was later absorbed by the Air Force. As the story goes, the IPU’s findings that UFOs constituted a threat to national and global security was what prompted MacArthur to render his speech.

MacArthur’s statements, although somewhat sensationalized later on by the media, nonetheless manifested his belief that someday in the future, all of us might experience a real-life version of Independence Day.

8 • The US Government Secretly Sent Astronauts To Another Planet

3-serpo_300pxAccording to this conspiracy theory, the administration of President JFK—and, later, Johnson—allegedly sent astronauts to a faraway planet called Serpo. The ambitious project began after the US government supposedly saved the life of an alien whose spacecraft crashed in Roswell. In return, the grateful alien established an exchange program with the government and made arrangements for two spaceships to pick it up along with a dozen specially trained astronauts in 1965. After 37 light-years, the astronauts finally reached Serpo and spent more than a decade learning about the planet and its inhabitants, a race called Ebens.

According to them, the Ebens numbered more than 600,000 but lived in a peaceful, government-free community. After 13 years, the team finally returned to Earth four members short after two of them died and another two chose to stay on Serpo. Unfortunately, there are no surviving members of the team today, as all of them supposedly succumbed to the high radiation levels brought on by the two suns of Serpo.

7 • Jesus Was An Alien

4-jesus_300px_300pxRemember the belief that the gods that ancient people worshiped and revered were actually aliens? If that theory is to be believed, then Jesus might have also been one, a fact that is supposedly being suppressed by the Church. As the theory goes, all the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ life hinted at extraterrestrial origins. His “virgin birth,” for instance, could be attributed to aliens artificially inseminating Mary, which in turn would explain why he could perform miraculous feats as well as communicate with otherworldly beings such as angels (who themselves were actually aliens).

Believers also point to Jesus’ statements that he was “not of this world” as hints of his real heritage. The theory goes on to say that after his resurrection, Jesus was beamed up into a spaceship and that the Catholic Church later suppressed the rest of the details by marking books such as the Epistles of the Apostles as apocryphal.

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Thomas Henry Moray and Zero-point Energy

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know

Did an electrical engineer from the 1920s really invent a device capable of harnessing zero-point energy? What happened to it? Listen in to learn more about the fiction and fact surrounding this bizarre story of conspiracy theory, technological suppression and more.

Did the US steal Nikola Tesla’s research?

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know

When impoverished inventor Nikola Tesla died in New York City, the U.S. government confiscated his notes. Why? Were they trying to steal his technology?

Could someone really manufacture an earthquake?

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know

Earthquakes are terrifying reminders that some of Earth’s processes remain beyond human control. So why do some people think scientists can actually create these disasters?

Can Thinking Change Reality

Story H/T: @ Skeptic Wars

steven_novellaby via NeuroLogica Blog

I love the documentary series, The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke. It’s a follow up to his equally good, Connections (I know, they have their criticisms, but overall they are very good). The former title is a metaphor – when our collective model of reality changes, for us the universe does change. When we believed the earth was motionless at the center of the universe, that was our reality.

James Burke The Day the Universe Changed

James Burke
The Day the Universe Changed

But Burke was not arguing that the nature of the universe actually changed, just our conception of it. Thinking alone cannot directly change external reality. That is magical thinking.

Such thinking, however, lies at the center of much new age spiritual claims. The secret of The Secret is that you can change your world by wishing. Proponents of such ideas are desperate for scientific validation of their basic premise. Such evidence does not exist. In fact over a century of such research shows rather conclusively that there is no such effect in operation in our world to any significant degree.

A recent article claiming that there is such evidence has been making the social media rounds – 10 Scientific Studies That Prove Consciousness Can Alter Our Physical Material World. After some flowery Eastern mysticism, and rather gratuitously abusing the memory of Nikola Tesla, the author gives a quick summary of what they believe to be ten lines of evidence supporting the notion that consciousness can alter physical reality. It would take a full-length post to debunk each of these ten claims adequately. I am only going to give an equally quick summary here, but will link to longer articles when possible.

1 – Quantum Double Slit Experiment

Double-slit experiment, artworkYou knew this had to be on the list. The claim is that the classic double slit experiments prove that consciousness affects reality at a fundamental level. Light (or other elementary particles, and even small atoms) traveling through one slit will shine as a blob on the other side, as if the particles of light were all piling up after the slit. If two adjacent thin slits are open, however, then we don’t see two blobs but rather an interference pattern, as if the light were traveling like water waves and interfering with each other as they traveled through the slits. This is the core experiment that demonstrates the wave-particle duality of light – it travels like a wave but then interacts like a particle.

These experiments are often distorted into the claim that the experimenter has to be watching, that their consciousness affects the outcome. This is simply not true, however. All that is required is a detector, which physically interacts with the particles. “Detecting” forces the wave function to collapse into a particle. I discuss this further here.

2. Government Sponsored Psychokinesis Experiments

The claim is that government experiments demonstrated the ability to bend spoons and forks with the mind. The links provided as references, however, do not establish such claims. This, of course, is a theme of the article, providing links that give the appearance of evidence, even though they do not establish the claims being referenced.

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ALSO SEE: NeuroLogica Blog » Can Thinking Change Reality Part II.

The Cult of Nikola Tesla

Via inFact with Brian Dunning on YouTube

Nikola Tesla was one of our greatest pioneering electrical engineers. Unfortunately, pretty much everything else you’ve heard about him isn’t true. http://infactvideo.com

10 People Who Claimed To Be Time Travelers

vortex 911
By Jackie Fuchs via Listverse

“The distinction between the past, present and future is only an illusion, however persistent.” –Albert Einstein

These days, even respected physicists like Stephen Hawking are being forced to admit that time travel may be possible. But has it already happened? These people say it has.

10 • A Visit To Mars With Barack Obama

163113514-e1387065394814_250pxSeattle attorney Andrew Basiago says that when he was a child, he and William Stillings were “chrononauts” in a secret United States government time travel program called Project Pegasus. The purpose of the program was threefold—to protect Earth from threats from space, to establish territorial sovereignty over Mars, and to acclimate Martian humanoids and animals to our presence.

The best part of Basiago’s and Stillings’ claim, however, is that one of their fellow time travelers was none other than a 19-year-old Barack Obama, who went by the name “Barry Soetero.” In 1980, the three men and seven other youths from their “Mars training class” at California’s College of the Siskiyous (a real institution) traveled to Mars via a top-secret teleportation “jump room” modeled on technical papers found in Nikola Tesla’s apartment after his death. They jumped through a field of radiant energy into a tunnel, and when the tunnel closed, found themselves at their destination.

The White House has officially denied that Obama ever went to Mars.

9 • An American Soldier From The Future

178803217-e1387065965310_250pxIn late 2000, posts began appearing on the Internet from someone claiming to be an American soldier from the year 2036. John Titor, as he called himself, was on his way back to 1975—using a device installed in a 1987 Chevy Suburban, naturally—to obtain an IBM 5100 computer to fight a computer virus destined to destroy the world. Titor hinted at a world beset by conflicts, culminating in a series of Russian nuclear strikes in 2015 that would kill almost three billion people.

Titor’s posts abruptly ceased in 2001, but Titormania continued. In 2003, a bound edition of Titor’s 151 message board posts was released under the title John Titor: A Time Traveler’s Tale. Though no longer in print, one can still buy a new copy for an eye-popping $1,775, or a used one at a more modest $150. The book was published by the John Titor Foundation, a for-profit corporation run by Florida entertainment attorney Lawrence Haber. The Foundation also owns the copyright to the purported insignia of Titor’s military unit, the Fighting Diamondbacks, which is inscribed with a quote from Ovid: tempus edax rerum, meaning “time devours all things.”

Except, it would seem, the myth of John Titor.

8 • Christ’s Personal Photographer

177729044-e1387066193469_250pxFather Pellegrino Ernetti was a Benedictine monk and respected authority on archaic music. He also claimed to have co-invented—as part of a team that included Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi and German rocket scientist Werner von Braun—the “chronovisor,” a device that looked like a television but could tune in to events from the past.

According to Ernetti, he had observed the last supper and Christ’s crucifixion, as well as Napoleon and Cicero. The team had later voluntarily dismantled the device, because in the wrong hands, it could create “the most fearsome dictatorship the world has ever seen.” It had been inspired, he said, by Nostradamus—who had personally related to him the device’s possibilities.

When pressed for evidence, Ernetti produced a picture of Christ on the cross reportedly photographed through the chronovisor. After the photo’s resemblance to a carving by Cullot Valera was noticed, however, Ernetti was forced to admit the photo was a fake. Nevertheless, Ernetti insisted the chronovisor was real.

7 • The Pilot Who Entered A Parallel Dimension

87779040-e1387066436503_250pxIn 1935, a wing commander with Britain’s Royal Air Force named Sir Victor Goddard flew his open-cockpit biplane from Scotland to England on weekend leave. On the way, he passed over Drem Airfield near Edinburgh, which had been constructed during World War I. The tarmac and four hangars were in disrepair and barbed wire divided the field into numerous pastures filled with grazing cattle. Returning home a day later, Goddard ran into a violent storm and lost control of his plane. When he finally recovered from a downward spiral that should have resulted in his death, he was just several feet above a stony beach.

As Goddard climbed back up through the rain and fog, the sky suddenly filled with sunlight. Below him was the Drem Airfield—only the farm had disappeared, and the hangars were no longer decrepit. At the end of the restored tarmac stood four bright yellow planes, one an unfamiliar monoplane. These were surrounded by mechanics in blue overalls, notable to Goddard since RAF mechanics only ever wore brown.

Had Goddard—considered one of the founders of the RAF—simply been confused about his location, as some skeptics suggest? Or had he traveled forward in time? Goddard died in 1987, so we may never know the truth. Unless, of course, he returns from the past to tell us.

6 • The Sole Survivor Of The Philadelphia Experiment

177444045_250pxIn the fall of 1943, the USS Eldridge was allegedly made invisible and teleported from Pennsylvania to Virginia in an incident that came to be known as the Philadelphia Experiment. Of course, the incident never occurred—but that didn’t stop Alfred Bielek from achieving notoriety as Eldridge’s reputed lone survivor. His memories were “buried” until he saw the movie The Philadelphia Experiment in 1988, at which time he “remembered” that he was born in 1916 as Ed Cameron.

As Cameron, he’d been recruited in 1940 for an alleged Navy Project called Project Rainbow, whose purpose was to figure out how to make ships invisible. For reasons not entirely clear, “black ops” soldiers later sent Cameron through a portal at the Pentagon to Alpha Centauri One, where aliens interrogated him and then “physically regressed” him into one-year-old Al Bielek in 1927. Bialek claimed he later became director of mind control for the Montauk Project, whose members in the ‘80s traveled through a time vortex and changed the outcomes of various wars. When they returned to their own time, they would decide if they’d changed things for the better. If not, they would simply restore the status quo.

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Hutchinson hoax

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Given that Hutchison’s claims are outlandish and his credibility damaged by admitted fakery, it is likely that the effect named for him is complete claptrap. —Alan Bellows


“John Hutchison has not been able to convince the scientific community that he is anything more than a crackpot.”

The Hutchison hoax is named after an eccentric Canadian, John Hutchison, a fan of Nikola Tesla and Tesla coils. Hutchison claims to have discovered a number of weird things, such as the levitation of heavy objects and the fusion of metal and wood by forces heretofore undetected by normal scientists. Hutchison calls these weird things “the Hutchison effect.” Some of the things he calls weird seem to be explainable in terms of electromagnetism and other known physical forces, but he has more mysterious explanations, such as zero point energy and electromagnetic fields that cancel out gravity. Unfortunately, he seems to be the only one who can produce the effects, but not even he can replicate them—at least not in the presence of unbiased observers. His evidence consists mainly of his word and his videos.

One suggestion made by skeptics is that Hutchison uses an electromagnet on the ceiling, and places hidden pieces of metal inside objects so they will be attracted to the magnet. He could then film the objects with an upside-down camera as he powers down the electromagnet, making the objects on film appear to float up and out of the shot when in reality they are falling down to the floor. Many of the videos include conspicuous objects in the scene which do not move (such as an old broom), which could be deliberately attached to add to the illusion that the camera is not upside-down. Critics also point out that the videos do not show what happens to the objects after they levitate.*

His laboratory is his garage, kitchen, and other rooms in his apartment. Much of his apparatus seems to have come from military surplus stores.

Hutchison came on the scene around 1979, but he has not been able to convince the scientific community that he is anything more than a crackpot.

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The Cult of Nikola Tesla

via Skeptoid

Podcast transcript (below) | Listen | Subscribe

Nikola Tesla, aged 37, 1893

Nikola Tesla, aged 37, 1893

No personality in the history of science has been pushed further into the realm of mythology than the Serbian-American electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. He is, without a doubt, one of the true giants in the history of electromagnetic theory. As an inventor he was as prolific as they come, with approximately 300 patents having been discovered in at least 26 countries, but many more inventions as well that stayed within his lab and were never patented. As remarkable as were his talents was his personality: private, eccentric, possessed of extraordinary memory and bizarre habits, and with a headlong descent into mental illness during his later years. Tesla’s unparalleled combination of genius and aberrance have turned him into one of the seminal cult figures of the day. As such, at least as much fiction as fact have swirled around popular accounts of his life, and devotees of conspiracy theories and alternative science hypotheses have hijacked his name more than that of any other figure. Today we’re going to try and separate that fiction from the fact.

First, a very brief outline of his life; but in order to put it in the proper perspective, we have to first clear up a popular misconception. Tesla did not invent alternating current, which is what he’s best remembered for. AC had been around for a quarter century before he was born, which was in 1856 in what’s now Croatia. While Tesla was a young man working as a telephone engineer, other men around Europe were already developing AC transformers and setting up experimental power transmission grids to send alternating current over long distances. Tesla’s greatest early development was in his mind: a rotary magnetic field, which would make possible an electric induction motor that could run directly from AC, unlike all existing electric motors, which were DC. At the time, AC had to be converted to DC to run a motor, at a loss of efficiency. Induction motors had been conceived before his birth, but none had ever been built. Tesla built a working prototype, but only two years after another inventor, Galileo Ferraris, had also independently conceived the rotary magnetic field and built his own working prototype. Rightfully fearing that his own obscurity as a telephone engineer was hampering his efforts as an inventor, Tesla arranged to move to the United States. He did so in 1884, getting his famously ill-fated and short-lived job in Thomas Edison’s laboratory.

The tycoon George Westinghouse, who understood the potential of AC and induction motors and was actively seeking them, gratefully purchased some of Tesla’s patents as soon as he learned about them. Royalties from Westinghouse fattened Tesla’s wallet, and a number of highly public projects on which they collaborated made him a celebrity, including the 1893 illumination of the World’s Fair with alternating current, and the subsequent creation of the Niagara Falls power plant. It was as a result of this windfall that Tesla set up his own laboratories and created his most intriguing inventions. Let’s run through a list of some of the seemingly magical feats attributed to Tesla, beginning with . . .

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Related: Tesla Debunked: Debunking the Tesla Myth

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