Earlier today, GeekWire readers crowned Nikola Tesla as the Geek Madness champion after he trounced Linus Torvalds in the finals.
We wanted to get a little more insight into Tesla and there are few better people to ask than Marc Seifer, a respected editor, professor and author of Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius.
After letting him know that Tesla was the Geek Madness champion, here’s what Seifer told us about the man he’s studied for nearly four decades:
On the one hand, how can I not be amazed. When I began Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla, the year was 1976 and Tesla’s name had completely dropped off the map. The only source of information on him at that time was from a UFO organization. That’s where I got his book of patents. Once I realized that he was the real deal, namely that he was indeed the primary inventor behind the induction motor, our hydroelectric power system, fluorescent and neon lights, wireless communication, remote control, robotics, cell phone technology and particle beam weapons, I knew that I was sitting on the greatest story ever.What really intrigued me was that Tesla was not some obscure inventor living in the woods out in, say Utah, no, he was a STAR of the Gilded Age, living at the height of the Gay Nineties in the Waldorf Astoria and counting among his friends such luminaries as Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, John Jacob Astor and J. Pierpont Morgan, two of the richest men in the world who funded his research, Stanford White, Tesla’s architect, designer of Wardenclyffe, Tesla’s wireless tower, and also designer of the original Madison Square Garden, which at the time, in 1890, was the tallest and most beautiful building in New York City, Mary Mapes Dodge author of Hans Brinker, Ignace Paderewski, the greatest pianist and later day Prime Minister of Poland, Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of Century Magazine and his alluring wife Katharine, presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin Roosevelt and colleagues as George Westinghouse, who backed Tesla, and competitors Guglielmo Marconi and Thomas Edison.
Tesla was a headliner of the day, often making the front page of the New York Times or the New York Sun, and on top of that, he had those amazing and campy photos of him surrounded by lightning such as at his laboratories on East Houston Street in New York City or out at Colorado Springs where he as sending impulses around the world as early as 1899.
Tesla began to catch the public eye in the early 1990’s, when the Encyclopedia Britannica placed him in the TOP TEN PEOPLE that researchers were interested in, along with JFK, Elvis and Jesus and then again in the year 2000 when Time/Life listed Tesla as one of the 100 most important people of the last 1,000 years.
The coup de grace for me was when the Oatmeal Website joined our efforts to save Wardenclyffe, the site of Tesla’s amazing wireless tower and laboratory which was still standing out on Long Island. We needed One Million Dollars, and once the site went live, last year, 33,000 people from over 100 countries raised the funds in less than two weeks!
My favorite quote of Tesla’s is from 1904 whereby he envisions what becomes the Internet. Tesla writes that once his World Wireless System is in operation, “the entire earth will be converted into a brain as it were, capable of response in everyone of its parts.” This quote not only envisions a world wide instantaneously interconnected communication system, but also this would be a path to world peace, because all humans will be so much closer to one another.
One last point is that Tesla’s work is not done. I have recently written another book entitled Transcending the Speed of Light, whereby I explore Tesla’s little known work on his “dynamic theory of gravity” which, as it turns out, sheds light on what today is called the God Particle, the particle that gives matter its mass and on Einstein’s dream of what he called “Grand Unification” the way to combine gravity with electromagnetism. In a nutshell, Tesla’s theory was that matter is absorbing ether all the time. This process helps maintain elementary particle spin while also converting this ongoing influx (gravity) into electromagnetism. So Tesla still has many secrets to impart. His invention of the hydroelectric power system is the single most important creation responsible for slowing down global warming because it is renewable and does not pollute the environment.
Tesla’s accomplishments and vision simply takes one’s breath away, and so on some level, as a person who has devoted the last 37 years to studying his life and accomplishments, I am humbled and very happy that he has won this enormous honor.
Learn more about Seifer’s work at his personal website.
Previously on GeekWire: Geek Madness: Nikola Tesla named greatest geek ever after trouncing Torvalds
Reach staff reporter Taylor Soper at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Taylor_Soper