Chances are if you’re over about 30 you’ve never heard of Nikola Tesla. That’s a shame because both electric motors and the way we distribute electricity are among the many contributions this man made in his incredible career as one of the most brilliant scientists who ever lived. That’s why Mathew Inman, the artist behind The Oatmeal, is raising money to turn the brilliant if somewhat tortured genius’ lab into a museum.
The story of Tesla is far bigger than the campaign to create the museum, however. It’s a story of how business trumps science and invention, at least in the minds of American popular culture – and why the two are often horribly at odds with each other. Yet, the way the story progresses far beyond Tesla’s life it shows that there is an eventual redemption, because if you are under 30 years old there’s a good chance you have heard of Tesla – and have a pretty low opinion of his onetime mentor and later rival, Thomas Edison.