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Nikola Tesla was an eccentric genius, well-known by contemporaries for his famous battles with Thomas Edison. What was Nikola Tesla really like?
Author's Note: 10 Reasons Why Tesla Is a Scientific God
Tesla was my childhood hero, and I have been excited to witness his recent surge in recognition and status, especially among young people. At the same time, I have been increasingly troubled by some of the blatant misrepresentations on both sides of the Tesla vs. Edison feud. The career of Nikola Tesla, perhaps more than that of any other scientific figure, is surrounded by a fog of misinformation -- generated first by those who sought to usurp his place, and later by those who overreached in their attempts to redress those wrongs -- and to demonize Edison and Westinghouse.
The truth is, Tesla had many more patents and ideas than he could ever test; inventors still scour his notebooks for clues. Some ideas, like his particle beam, appear to have been on the mark; others, such as his alleged proto-radar or his V/STOL aircraft, remain debatable. Of course, Tesla may well have corrected any oversights or blind alleys through experiment, had he received funding and pursued these ideas, but that's neither here nor there. As for Edison and Westinghouse, both were complex figures who have been both vilified and lionized more than they deserve.
But then again, maybe that's what made Tesla a scientific god: He has inspired factions ranging from zealots to true believers to doubting Thomases. Depending on your point of view, Tesla vs. Edison is either like the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones ... or the Beatles vs. the Monkees. I'm just glad were having the argument.
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