A Brief History of the Nikola Tesla Phenomenon

It all started, ostensibly, with a post on The Badass of the Week way back in 2009, then a comic from The Oatmeal appeared earlier this year and before anyone could say “mad genius,” Nikola Tesla had been catapulted to stardom. Here’s a brief timeline of Tesla’s posthumous rise to fame:

January 9, 2009 Nikola Tesla is The Badass of the Week.

“Of course, much like many other eccentric giga-geniuses and diabolical masterminds, Tesla was also completely insane.  He was prone to nervous breakdowns, claimed to receive weird visions in the middle of the night, spoke to pigeons, and occasionally thought he was receiving electromagnetic signals from extraterrestrials on Mars.  He was also obsessive-compulsive and hated round objects, human hair, jewelry, and anything that wasn’t divisible by three. He was also asexual and celibate for his entire life.  Basically, Nikola Tesla was the ultimate mad scientist, which is seriously awesome.”

April 11, 2012 Untitled Nikola Tesla Project appears on IMDb.

Rumor has it that crazy actors Christian Bale and Nicholas Cage will play crazy people Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.1

May 14, 2012 Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, writes the comic Why Nikola Tesla was the Greatest Geek who Ever Lived. It goes viral.

July 10, 2012 Nikola Tesla Day.

Matthew Inman suggests editing WikiPedia:

August 9, 2012 Will Cashen launches a Kickstarter campaign for Electricity: The Story and Life of Nikola Tesla, a docudrama that is currently up for funding.

August 15, 2012 Matthew Inman launches an IndieGogo campaign, Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum, to buy back Tesla’s old factory — Wardenclyffe Tower — in Shoreham, NY and turn it into a museum. The campaign needs $850,000 to secure a matching grant from New York State.

Within 20 minutes the campaign raises $13,000; Elon Musk (my favorite, who has a company named after our favorite geek) pledges to support the project; within 24 hours the campaign reaches the half-way mark; the campaign breaks IndieGogo.

August 21, 2012 The Tesla Museum campaign passes its $850,000 goal in less than a week, securing a matching grant from New York State.

August 24, 2012 The Tesla Museum campaing passes $1million.

I’m just going to let this screen grab, taken today at 2:00pm, speak for itself:

Today voices are being raised all over the world to rectify the injustice that is Tesla’s almost complete absence in electrical science history education.  In the Smithsonian Book of Invention, Tesla isn’t mentioned once, nor is he mentioned in the Smithsonian Visual Timeline of Invention. In Lighting a Revolution, a book written by the curator of the Smithsonian Institution, a picture of Tesla’s AC generators finally makes an appearance, but again, he is never mentioned. Everywhere you look, Edison is glorified while Tesla is omitted.

His absence is unpardonable, a scheme orchestrated by that douchebag Thomas Edison to wrap powerhouses like the Smithsonian Institution, the Henry Ford Museum, and the Society for the History of Technology , and his own General Electric Company around his finger and keep Tesla from the recognition he more than deserved.

In sourcing material for this post, I came across this video, posted last year by an elementary school teacher who took on this gross injustice with his 3rd grade class. They made and sold Nikola Tesla t-shirts to raise money to build busts of Tesla to donate to major universities across the country. Today, they have busts at 19 colleges and universities across the country, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, U of M, Yale, and CalTech.

On my birthday this year my cousin is getting married at the Henry Ford Museum. I will go, but I will stamp my feet the whole way and probably get colossally drunk and go on a rant about Tesla. I have also decided that I’m going to get married just so I can get married in the Tesla Museum. Any takers?

Also, just a side/personal note: if Nikola Tesla was celibate his whole life, why is he giving sexy eyes in nearly every single photo? Just a question…


1 Christian Bale really likes Nikola Tesla, or he really likes being in movies with Nikola Tesla characters in them. In 2006, Christian Bale Starred in The Prestige in which David Bowie played our favorite geek. It could be argued that this was the beginning of the Nikola Tesla Phenomenon.


One thought on “Tesla. So Hot Right Now. Tesla.

  1. Tesla’s got a unit of magnetic field named after him. It’s an enormous unit. The LHC magnets have like eight of them. Edison doesn’t have shit. Physicists know what’s up.

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