Friday, 10 July 2009

Happy Tesla Day

One could not let the day pass without marking the Main Man of Steampunk, the famous inventor of the Tesla Coil, Nicolai Tesla!

Born this day on 1856, not in Russia, as many may believe, but a Serb in Vojna Krajina (modern Croatia), Tesla is responsible for some of the greatest electro-magnetic and other inventions many people believe invented by other, possibly more well-reknowned, inventors, most notoriously radio (not Marconi!). His discoveries and achievements enabled the creation of the AC motor, polyphase distribution systems, and his inventions included the three-phase totating magnetic field generator. Tesla was quite possibly responsible for the success of the Edison Company, being employed to redesign and create systems and mechanisms for which the Company received the patents whilst Tesla remained on $18 a week, and digging ditches for them. His interests and later patents explored the fields of sleep-inducing machines, X-rays, plasma, mechanical resonance, and the transmission of electricity without wires.

Whilst I would otherwise not condone such a source for information, this site is a good starting point to Tesla's life and work. I would also point to the Telsa Foundation which seeks to continue his memory and work. Take a look at the TESLA Technology Collaboration of Germany while you're at it. There's also a documentary here.

For a more light-hearted view of Tesla, try this (wait til you're past the fire-spinner!), or, even better than Singing Tesla Coils, this, the Tesla Cage of Death!

Tesla repeatedly crops up in novels, movies, and television. A key character in Amanda Tapping's Sanctuary (first on the web, then on network) as a vampire, and appearing in the 2006 movie The Prestige, he remains a key figure of interest for novelists, including for Samantha Hunt's Invention of Everything Else and was a key plot device in the king of early steampunk and science fiction author HG Wells' First Men in the Moon. An excellent source of where Tesla may be found in popular culture may be found here.

Other Steampunks and punkettes will be marking this day, and I point you to the excellent Smoking Lounge for further discussion!

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