If genius goes hand in hand with madness then our greatest scientists could be considered the balmiest of them all. Of these historical figures, however, none is as iconic as Nikola Tesla. In this video, TopTenz picks his best “mad” ideas.
The idea of a mad scientist might be a caricature invented by authors and screenwriters, but according to TopTenz, one real-world scientist fulfills every characteristic of a mad scientist — Nikola Tesla. At the end of his life, Tesla spent sleepless nights solving mathematical equations and caring for the pigeons of New York. Perhaps it was the peculiarity of his personality that explained his limitless imagination; Tesla envisioned a future where energy was both clean and free.
Although many of Tesla’s inventions are now essential to modern life, many more never came to fruition. The reasons vary for each one, but the overlying cause is the very personality that allowed him to envision a future that no one else could have dreamt up.
The facts are these: Tesla lacked business skills. In 1884, after being offered $50,000 to improve Edison’s direct current generation plants, Tesla was able to complete the project but failed to secure his reward.
Later, after starting his own electric company, Tesla was once again foiled, this time by a smear campaign from Edison. Tesla’s alternating current ultimately became the standard worldwide, but the litigation fees forced him to give up his royalties for the invention – royalties that would have easily made him one the wealthiest men in the world.
Around 1900, Tesla started the project that might have been the pinnacle of his career: the tower at Wardenclyffe, New York. It was intended to transmit power wirelessly, but construction was never completed. In under a year, investors lost faith and Tesla was forced to declare bankruptcy.
Had Tesla been as focused on marketing and finance as Edison and Marconi, would he have had the chance to perfect his ideas? Perhaps, but ultimately, the world wasn’t ready for Tesla’s ideas or the mad scientist behind them.