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The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla

Updated on October 30, 2012

The misunderstood giant who invented the future.

A review of a comprehensive biography of a forgotten geniuses whose name should be on the lips of every child who lives with a cell phone permanently attached to their fingers. Nikola Tesla, who grew up dreaming of changing the world, attempted to do just that every time he was told he could not do something. Overshadowed in history by the likes of Marconi and Edison; Tesla deserves as much credit and more as this book lays out. Be prepared for a bit of conspiracy theory toward the tail end on the unanswered question if Tesla created a super weapon that the United States is still working on in secret.

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A story of genius and flawed actions

The acknowledgment between genius and insanity lies predominately in how history retains an individual's work. How many times throughout history has there been individuals who were not understood until decades or centuries have passed. Tesla is possibly one of the most poignant examples of just such an individual. Tesla was an inventor who over 6 decades after his death is actually realizing some of his ideas and concepts into their full reality. It is humbling when reflecting how far we have evolved in our awareness of science and technology, yet this individual who was routinely mocked as crazy during his time may have created the next generation engine to reach the outer reaches of space. This inventor might have created some of the early concepts for the most powerful weapons ever imagined and still are being developed. One can't read this book without feeling a bit sorry for the visionary who might never fully have been understood and certainly never appreciated.

The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla at its face details the life of a modern Prometheus who in his research identified the fundamental technology for the remote control, radio communication, electricity and florescent light bulbs to name just a few. But there is a deeper underlying, and I believe horrifying vein that stretches through this story. It is the difference between science and business, betterment of mankind and betterment of finances. In early 1900s the concept of technology patents was designed to protect those that stake their time and finances on trying to better the world. These patents needed to be obtained in every country and then vigorously defended in expensive legal battles over mind numbing technical details of original concepts versus logical extensions of fundamental ideas. How does this compare to modern times where industrious law firms flip that order to obtain broad general patents to embroil inventers in costly battles over technologies they can scarcely explain? It begs the question if patents ever truly achieved their purpose when the names and histories of countless inventors die in poverty only years later receiving compensation and acknowledgment over the impact they made and was stolen. This story has not only the dates and facts of Tesla's life, but a view of the mental, financial and legal woes of an inventor that never quite received his due.

Unfortunately, Tesla, as a fatally flawed hero during the dawn of electricity, lived further in the clouds than on the ground and thus is easily forgotten for inventing some of the greatest technologies we treasure today. This story is highly worth a read by all who have ever used a car radio or cell phone transmitter. Be advised there are complex concepts that challenge those not schooled in advanced physics, but if you so desire those occasional parts can be skipped with no detracting to the wonderful story of a flawed genius that lies within.

Interesting video bio of Tesla and his contributions

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    • deforst profile image

      deforst 4 years ago

      As an electrical engineer I am a big fan of Tesla, but there are not many people who even know his name or how he has forever improved their lives! Thank you for spreading the word...great lens!

    • Underrated profile image

      Underrated 4 years ago

      He was a genious

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 4 years ago

      Interesting lens ! Thanks for sharing.

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 4 years ago

      Interesting lens ! Thanks for sharing.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 5 years ago

      Excellent review. I appreciate your point about patents, then and now.

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      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      I live in Colorado - Tesla has a small museum in Colorado Springs. A truly great man.

    • PlethoraReader profile image
      Author

      Matthew 5 years ago from Silicon Valley

      @JoshK47: Thanks Josh for the comment. I am not sure Edison tried to discredit him because of personal animosity or jealousy, rather in these early days of discovery they were both so convinced they were right and the stakes were so high they thought they had to fight for their method for the sake of progress. Thank you again.

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      I've always been a big fan of Tesla's work - it's a shame Edison worked so hard and fought so dirty to discredit him.

    • PlethoraReader profile image
      Author

      Matthew 5 years ago from Silicon Valley

      @jimmyworldstar: It is true that many of these early inventors led on the press and their sponsors to get the funding they needed. For Tesla he took funds for one project from a sponsor and completely changed his project to something else and then was upset when funding was cut. Not sure how unique it was to him, but certainly hurt him in the future when no one else would give him funding.

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      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      He was really influential to electricity and other technologies. I did hear though that he used dishonest tactics against his rival Edison to promote his own theory of electricity or whatever it was. He was also really odd but then again I think most geniuses are.

    • PlethoraReader profile image
      Author

      Matthew 5 years ago from Silicon Valley

      @anonymous: Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed. Really was a fantastic book. Next will be Edison's for the opposing view.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      electricity is a amazing thing, enjoyed the reading on your lens, thanks!