July 10 was the birthday of Nikola Tesla, born in 1856 in what is now Croatia. You may have heard of the Tesla coil, but he also was responsible for alternating current. Unfortunately, his business ventures weren’t always successful, and he died alone and impoverished in 1943.
The PBS Newshour website has a feature “8 Things You Didn’t Know About Nikola Tesla” ( http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-nikola-tesla/) that offers insight into his life.
- He was born during a lightening storm, which caused the midwife to predict that he would be a child of darkness. His mother disagreed.
- He had a great sense of humor.
- He was Thomas Edison’s rival, but they were not enemies. Some consider Edison and Tesla the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of their era. Tesla once worked for Edison and there were gestures of mutual respect.
- He developed the idea for a smartphone in 1901.
- He invited Mark Twain to a demonstration of a high-frequency oscillator. After being shaken for about a minute and a half, Twain (who had digestive problems) had to run to the bathroom.
- He had famous friends and at one time lived in the Waldorf Astoria.
- He could not stand the sight of pearls, to the point of refusing to talk to women who wore them. No one knows why.
- He had a remarkable memory and could visualize in three dimensions, a tool for coping with the nightmares he suffered as a child. By the same token, a bout with cholera as a child gave him a fear of germs.
Nikola Tesla is another brilliant mind who helped make modern life as comfortable as it is today, but who has never received the credit he deserves.
There is a good biographical entry of Tesla at http://www.biography.com/people/nikola-tesla-9504443. The photo is from Google Images.