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Tesla: Man Out of Time Paperback – October 9, 2001
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In Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney explores the brilliant and prescient mind of one of the twentieth century's greatest scientists and inventors. Called a madman by his enemies, a genius by others, and an enigma by nearly everyone, Nikola Tesla was, without a doubt, a trailblazing inventor who created astonishing, sometimes world-transforming devices that were virtually without theoretical precedent. Tesla not only discovered the rotating magnetic field -- the basis of most alternating-current machinery -- but also introduced us to the fundamentals of robotics, computers, and missile science. Almost supernaturally gifted, unfailingly flamboyant and neurotic, Tesla was troubled by an array of compulsions and phobias and was fond of extravagant, visionary experimentations. He was also a popular man-about-town, admired by men as diverse as Mark Twain and George Westinghouse, and adored by scores of society beauties. From Tesla's childhood in Yugoslavia to his death in New York in the 1940s, Cheney paints a compelling human portrait and chronicles a lifetime of discoveries that radically altered -- and continue to alter -- the world in which we live. Tesla: Man Out of Time is an in-depth look at the seminal accomplishments of a scientific wizard and a thoughtful examination of the obsessions and eccentricities of the man behind the science.
NOTE: No More Faceplants is a wise, savvy, compassionate book for people ready to do the work of change. Gordon Wolf is there to help you, and he does it with no judgment and no nonsense. Fair warning: You might feel, as you read, as though someone is peeking directly into your soul. – Ann Weiser Cornell, author of The Power of Focusing and The Radical Acceptance of Everything
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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...
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One wonders if in his later years, his lack of sleep contributed to his...Read more