Nikola Tesla, the naturalized US citizen originally from Serbia, was undoubtedly one of the greatest engineers of the early twentieth century, and that is saying a lot since it was the time of Edison, Graham Bell, and Rudolph Diesel. The contributions of Tesla included the AC power generation and propagation and numerous electrical and mechanical devices that eventually evolved into many gadgets that we use now. Just like many geniuses, Tesla was a curious person, and that is shown in his book My Inventions, which is a thrilling collection of paradigm-shattering thoughts and insights into his aristocratic, yet unusual personality.
Here are five of the most amazing things about Tesla you probably didn’t know:
1. His Highly organized visualization method
Tesla, unlike other inventors, didn’t need some kind of drawing or logical system to help with the design. Since he was 17, he had developed this highly organic, yet meticulously detailed visualization technique that he used to come up with his plans. It is called the combinatory play and was also employed by Einstein. In Tesla’ own words, he says he doesn’t need drawings, models or experiments to achieve his objective. He could model them in his own brains and simulate how they worked. He even reworked, fine-tuned and perfected his inventions in his mind. Amazing ability, almost superhuman isn’t it?
2. His artificial lightning concept
In 1899 at his Colorado laboratory, Tesla was able to simulate lightning of up to millions of volts, and the bolt was an astonishing 135 feet long.
3. His High-frequency oscillator caused his friend Mark Twain to defecate
Tesla had a giant “earthquake machine” in his Manhattan laboratory. Steam was used to work a huge piston that in turn powered an armature that shook violently and produced electricity as a result. His writer buddy Mark Twain was there, and he had a constant complaint of digestive problems like a slow bowel movement. Tesla offered him to stand on the oscillating platform. Within two minutes of heavy shaking, Twain had enough and jumped from the platform and made a dash towards the bathroom. Must have been the best bowel release he had ever had!
4. He believed women could become superior intellectually than men one day.
We have to remember that those were the days when women couldn’t vote and seldom had the opportunity to study in college. A majority of them were housewives, and it wasn’t till the end of World War I that civil liberties for women were announced. Even in those times, Tesla believed that females could eventually overtake men regarding intellectual brilliance and not just narrowly imitate men’s excellence. He also believed that sociological suppression of women would result in a sudden burst of energy that could propel them to excellence. Nowadays women are excelling in every field, and his prediction regarding the fair sex could be near to being proven true.
5. His long list of weird obsessions, compulsions and superstitions.
He was a gentleman, but he had weird tastes and compulsions that seemed erratic. He avoided and detested the presence of human hair and could only touch it at the point of a revolver. He had a curious love for the number 3. He had 18 towels delivered to him by maids, and he stayed in hotel number 207. Both of these numbers were divisible by 3. His visual sensitivities included seeing a luminous path after a person had walked a path on snow which is phenomenal. Towards the end of his life, he nurtured a new love for pigeons particularly a white one that had a touch of gray on its wings. He believed that the pigeon brought a purpose to his life.
You should read his extensive biography to find out more about his interesting persona. Geniuses are weird, aren’t they?