What inspired Nikola Tesla

5 facts about Nikola Tesla, the misunderstood genius

"People are more interested in Tesla these days," said Jane Alcorn, a retired teacher and president of the Tesla Science Center Wardenclyffe. “It appeals to those people who work hard but receive little recognition for it. People are starting to understand how important his contributions were. "

One sign of this growing recognition was certainly that Elon Musk named his e-car startup Tesla Motors after the visionary and inventor in 2003.

A brilliant inventor

Tesla was the child of Serb parents and was born in a small town that is now in Croatia. As a young man he emigrated to the USA, whose citizenship he later accepted. In addition to Edison, who later became his fiercest rival, he worked a lot with the inventor George Westinghouse. In 1893, the duo demonstrated their advances in lighting and motors at the Chicago World's Fair. Two years later, the two developed the first hydroelectric power station at Niagara Falls.

At the turn of the century, Tesla had his Wardenclyffe laboratory built in the small community of Shoreham on Long Island, where he carried out some of his most ambitious experiments. The venture was funded by J. P. Morgen and designed by renowned architect Stanford White.

The most noticeable part of the laboratory was the Wardenclyffe Tower, also known as the Tesla Tower. The 57 meter high timber lattice tower had a large antenna at the top and should not only enable wireless radio communication across the Atlantic, but also wirelessly distribute energy in the area.

The tower was torn down long ago, but Tesla's large statue in front of the building is a fitting monument to the place, says Alcorn. "This is the last remaining Tesla laboratory in the world," she said.

It took Alcorn's nonprofit for years to acquire the property (with some help from a web comic artist).

Tesla ran out of money during the construction project and its laboratory was foreclosed twice. Just like his previous lab in Colorado Springs, his assets were liquidated to pay off his debts. In 1917 the tower was blown up to sell the metal. According to rumors, the destruction was initiated by the US government, which is said to have feared that German spies would use the radio tower for war purposes, Alcorn said. After the tower was demolished, the main building was used to manufacture photography accessories for decades.