Nikola Tesla isn’t a household name but it should be. Sure you may have heard of him or the Tesla Coil, but do you really know what this man, who is considered and respected in the scientific community as one of the greatest electrical engineers in America since the 1880’s, really contributed to our modern world? In 1894 Tesla demonstrated to the world short range wireless communication through radio. He is the father of the cell phone or wireless communication which is used worldwide by just about everybody. He is also largely responsible for the development of alternating current. He was a pioneer in the field of electromagnetism and without him you wouldn’t be able to run just about anything in your house! He made numerous discoveries that were groundbreaking in the world of modern electrical engineering. When he was in his prime he was the most popular inventor/scientist in the entire world! Unfortunately, later in life the fame faded and he became a recluse and was dubbed a “mad scientist”; leading him down the road to a broken, penniless man whose work was mostly forgotten or dismissed after his death. That is until 1960 when the scientific community made the term “Tesla” as a measurement of magnetic field strength.
One fact that often causes the greatest debate is the relationship between Tesla and Thomas Edison, whom Tesla worked for and in turn solved some of Edison’s companies most difficult problems. In fact, Tesla completely redesigned the Edison’s Companies direct current generators something Edison had struggled with for years. But what caused a rift in what was essentially a one-sided relationship with Tesla, who it seemed was the true brains behind almost everything, was Tesla’s claims that he could redesign Edison’s inefficient motors and generators, improving their service as well as the economy of Edison’s motors and generators. At the time it was well known that Edison wasn’t well off financially yet he offered Tesla fifty thousand dollars if he could do what he claimed he was able to do. Tesla spent months redesigning and improving everything he claimed he could and more only to be given a ten dollar a week raise from his eighteen dollar a week salary. When Tesla asked about the fifty thousand dollars he was offered, Edison told Tesla he must not “get” American humor and that it was a joke. Tesla, rightly insulted refused the ten dollar raise and resigned leaving Edison’s company to start his own company, Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing in the year 1886 during this time period he came up with inventions like arc generators, rotating magnetic fields, electric power transmission , radio, radio controlled vehicles, x-rays, electric death rays, lightning rods, a high frequency alternator, and many other inventions that are used almost every day by us today! Tesla seemed to turn science fiction into science fact. Unfortunately, after suggesting that his company concentrate on developing his ideas for alternating current transmission systems his investors had no interest in following this path and fired him leaving him broke but still determined, still experimenting and finding ways to liquefy air and coming up with theories on using electricity to make a death rays. He moved to Colorado Springs and continued to push the boundaries of science all the while slipping into bankruptcy. This turn of events led him to the topic of this article, Wardenclyffe, Tesla’s lab located in Shoreham, NY. This is where Tesla built Wardenclyffe Tower which was initially built to provide wireless energy for the entire world-energy he claimed he could pull right out of the air-free energy. In 1900 Tesla was already “going green”. Once again his investors didn’t believe in him and had no interest in funding this project so his ideas suffered once again because of investors and the tower was demolished and the land was sold to a photographic film manufacturer.
Finally the point of this article, a website called The Oatmeal learned that the land, the laboratory, and the foundation underneath the tower were still there-they weren’t only there but they were going up for sale! They also found out that a non-profit organization was not only trying to purchase the property but wanted to restore it and turn it into the United States only Nikola Tesla Museum. The property itself cost a whopping $1.6 million dollars and the state of New York was willing to give the organization a grant for $850,000 matching what the non-profit organization would have to come up with giving them a grand total of $1.7 million dollars, enough to purchase the property. Unfortunately that amount is just enough to buy the land. Money would still have to be raised in order to restore the land and build a museum and to make matters worse they weren’t the only ones with their eyes on buying the property. There is another organization with an offer to purchase the land as well and their intentions are to tear the laboratory down and turn it into a retail establishment. I cannot imagine missing an opportunity to retain a true piece of scientific history, of American history and build a museum honoring one of the greatest scientific minds of not just our time but of all time only to build another Wal-Mart, that would be a crime.
This is where The Oatmeal and you the people come in, you can stop this crime from happening! You can come together and create something great. Follow this link to The Oatmeal’s website where you can donate any amount you can afford, every penny helps. Then you can say that you helped acquire the property so that it will be permanently protected and the site itself can be restored to it’s former glory with an addition, The Nikola Tesla Science Center. Follow the link I provided above and you can see for yourself just what you can do to help preserve a piece of our history-plus there are all kinds of perks and incentives depending on the amount you choose to donate, the bumper sticker alone is worth a donation (you’ll have to check out the site to see the bumper sticker).
It does sound kind of hopeless doesn’t it, I mean to raise $850,000 in 45 days is quite a feat. Well I am proud to say that in just nine days after posting their outcry, The Oatmeal has already raised over one million dollars! $1,000,625 to be exact at the time of this writing; and that doesn’t include New Yorks $850,000 grant! When the donations were coming in at their peak, The Oatmeal was raising $27,000 an hour-that is just mind-blowing. The campaign was set to run for 45 days and it still will. Even though they raised an amazing amount in just the first nine days, The Oatmeal is going to let it run it’s full 45 days and assures us that, “Every extra penny we earn will go toward restoring the property, building exhibits, and turning the land into something worthy of Tesla’s awesomeness!”
So don’t be shy! Donate what you can, knowing that every cent will go to making a better Science Center that will educate not only the community, but every person that makes the trip! Also converting more people into Tesla fans and providing them with knowledge that you won’t get in school. Even giving Tesla fans everywhere a mecca to flock to. You can check in on the progress and get updates from Theoatmeal.com or their Facebook or Twitter pages. They’ve even added more perks for donations-check out the site to see all the wonderful things that you can get with a simple donation.
My hat goes off to The Oatmeal for doing in nine days what I would have thought would take at least the 45 days allotted, much less going above and beyond the goal. If the donations keep rolling in, I believe we can expect the best gosh darn Museum/Science Center in the entire United States, maybe in the entire world and more importantly The Oatmeal and the non-profit organization has ensured Tesla’s legacy will be around forever. Everyone will know about Tesla’s contributions and the world will get to see and recognize his ideas at work in the world around them and who knows, we may even get more technology from his ideas that may have been lost or forgotten or even disregarded-but not now! Now the world will have a place to celebrate the life and mind of Nikola Tesla and for that we thank all of you at The Oatmeal. You have not only done a great thing but you got Comic Booked doing it!