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Tesla: Man Out of Time Paperback – October 9, 2001
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American Scientist Excellent...a significant contribution to the recent history of science...informative and delightful to read.
Publishers Weekly Well documented, sympathetic, and engaging.
Choice Cheney's excellent biography of one of the most idiosyncratic and truly enigmatic "scientists" is both comprehensive and well written...very warmly recommended.
The Sunday Times, London Uncommonly colorful...absorbing.
About the Author
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We may recall Tesla as far as today's popular culture as the inventor of the Tesla coils, which could muster amazing amounts of electricity for the time, in the very late 1890's, and of course the much rumored but as of yet unproven or discovered "death ray" that was a possible ultimate deterrent
for all war, with incredibly refined particles capable of instantly disintegrating any target within 200 miles of the device. But his accomplishments were just as phenomenal, such as proving ultimately AC current was far safer and far superior to Edison's DC current, during which the "war of the currents" were taken to absurd levels by Edison and his henchmen, who kidnapped family pets and made public displays of the poor creatures standing on a metal plate and electrocuted with as much as 1000 volts of AC current to try to scare people away from Tesla's model for what would become the modern electrical grid we know today. I came away from this book already knowing Edison was a dirtbag, who gleefully stole ideas from his employees, lied through his teeth on anything that caught his attention, and did all he could to destroy Tesla, with money his only real goal.
Tesla gave the world the first wireless (radio) system, beating Marconi by a couple of years, although Marconi would be given credit for radio, and would only be exposed for the imitator of Tesla's very system after the Second World War by the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, this vindication was two years after Tesla had died.
We discover he was making the first inroads to radar, refrigeration, even haphazardly discovering what would be known as X rays before that supposed inventor Roetgen got the credit. It was astonishing how far advanced this man was, in fact so futuristic he laid the groundwork for transistors and many other important inventions. It would seem the man was indeed ahead of his own human pace, his mind working furiously at a pace Tesla had difficulty keeping up with. He failed to document many of his experiments and their results as he raced from one project to another.
While necessarily including details about his patents and working details of his invention that may be a bit tedious especially if you are not a professional in the world of electrical mechanics and other highly refined areas Tesla worked in, it is nonetheless a fine tribute to a man whom, in a society that was bursting with inventors and cutthroat competition for the financial backup of the rich and certain related industries, was seemingly trapped in a Victorian day and age while his mind was becoming one with the cosmos, although Einstein would claim correctly the nature of gravity, speed of light and other mind blowing topics through his special theory of relativity, which incidentally Tesla disagreed with, being one of the relatively few times he would be way off the mark.
This is an important well researched and written book, timely and fascinating. Now, the Discovery Channel is supposedly going to air a mini-series on Tesla and his legendary if not verified "death ray", and conspiracy theories that suggest he was murdered and his papers and designs that were of military global importance stolen. The man who basically gave us the blueprint for sonar among so much more died at 86 in 1943, so it would seem that murdering the very ill lonely man would be totally unnecessary. In the meantime, his real work is plenty to get your neurons firing.
A lot of technical books are just that -- "technical", but Cheney makes the work of a genius, a genius we are still trying to figure out, easy to read whether you have a background in science and engineering or are simply someone who wants to know more about the guy who pioneered the technology that lets you sit on the sofa sipping beer while you channel surf -- 'cause he invented remote control.
Wonderful book. I've read excerpts to my daughter and countless friends, both male and female, young and old. We're still figuring out how to use some of the technology this wonderful inventor created. ....fluorescent lights...didn't come up with a use them until about 50 years later for example...
Top international reviews
The Author has written a great book here, that speaks like someone who has digested and thought about what she has written-well. She observes Tesla's surroundings, as well as some of the more important social happenings in his life (let alone the important and less important developments of his technical life), which is all fascinating.
At times it can come across as the author has created an opinion of the subject or conclusion. This can make it easier to read and entertaining – less dry; but I do think there is plenty of discussion within these cases.
It's also a fascinating place to observe the times of Tesla, and indeed it seemed there was ample upheaval and change within that period; Sometimes connecting up with other large scale developments, to ground the idea with today and now!
What's more, for those who are not casual readers: the author has herself-helpfully recorded the resources that she relied on to compile the book.
Thank you ! 😊
Nothing to him falls early Or too late.”