It is this mythology that dominates the legend of Tesla, his links to the supernatural tending to encroach on descriptions of his genius. This is a complete injustice. Tesla was a man so in touch with the actual physical composition of the universe that his inventions, despite seeming other-worldly, are essentially elegant manifestations of his ability to harness the earth’s raw potential. It’s just a shame that he didn’t invest in some quality stationary. If he had done, perhaps we might be a few generations further on in our attempts to modernise energy generation and develop our theories of space and time. It’s hard to begrudge the man though. For all we know his ideas may have been tragically awful; a death ray that did nothing but turn human hair a dark shade of auburn; a space-time theory at the epicentre of which is the doctrine that gravity is actually just the quantitative measure of how serious a situation is, and that if we were a little less serious about our problems then they would just float away; or perhaps just a mis-understood recipe for pistachio ice cream.
In all likelihood, however, the ideas that never surfaced were likely to be as brilliant and epoch-defining as the inventions that he did bother to write down. One such example of his ineffable genius is the invention that brought him the most commercial success and peer acclaim, the alternating current electrical generator. AC, as it is commonly known, is a more efficient and powerful method of transporting and providing electricity in a domestic setting than the predominant DC (direct current) of the time, discovered and provided (expensively) by Thomas Edison. Tesla originally conceived of the rotating magnetic field, essential to his AC inductor engine, in the city park of Budapest, drawing his design in nearby sand with a stick after a missing fragment of his theory rose to the surface of his consciousness. Such moments of crisp revelation are recurrent in Tesla’s inventive life and it neatly portrays his method: that as long as all the principles are there and you have an understanding of the basic laws and permutations of nature, more complicated and useful compositions of these principles will occur to you.
All things considered, Tesla was such that he will never be recreated, a unique phenomenon in his own right. It is with great irony that devices such as the television, facilitated by inventions he himself created, are now the curse of young minds that could potentially be as devoted and expansive as Tesla’s. If he were still alive today, upon observing all this over-stimulation, the barrage of useless information that people ingest on a ritual basis, I think he would both be horrified and fascinated by our abuse of the great opportunities that these inventions give us. With that in mind, I consider Tesla to be the most appropriate person I could hope to biograph as I begin this periodical tribute to interesting people, his life being a myriad of supreme intellect and complete calamity. I hope his story, and every other I will go on to provide, inspires you to become as interesting as you can possibly be.