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The conspiracy of Nikola Tesla

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I recently stumbled upon a comic online: www.theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla (while you're at it you might want to check out The Oatmeal's response to Forbes critisism of the comic: www.theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_response) I've been doing a lot of research on Tesla's work and accomplishments. And right now I am compelled to feel that he just might be the most genius person in the field of science after Galileo and Einstein. Isn't it a freaking conspiracy how his name rarely ever comes up in any physics textbooks?

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I would be more convinced by Alex’ arguments (Forbes, I mean), not only because he sounds more reliable, but he gave equally-fair judgements for both of the great scientists, Tesla & Edison. Personally I’m beginning to think that the purpose of Oatmeal’s comics is to discredit Edison, while over-praising Tesla, transforming both of them into characters of an over-dramatic story. In other words, I totally agree with Alex that Oatmeal is just trying to create a huge contrast between ‘hero vs villain’, ‘geek vs non-geek’, ‘god-devil’.

 

To be honest, I don’t really know much about either Tesla or Edison, so I shouldn’t really take part in this discussion. However, I do know that both of them have contributed something to physics, and therefore I’m grateful for that & I pay a great deal of respects for both of them. For me personally, I think that the question of ‘who is the greater scientist?’ is really a meaningless question. For instance, it’s impossible to compare Newton vs Einstein to see who is the better physicist. Of course, we know that Einstein fixed Newton’s model of gravity and therefore one would automatically think that Einstein made a bigger contribution. However, without Newton, Einstein wouldn’t even be able to study physics in the first place. So I think that we shouldn’t think of science as some kind of competitions between scientists, but rather as a progress of co-operation among scientists. Hence, it’s perfectly alright for me to say that Tesla & Edison were equally great.

 

Isn't it a freaking conspiracy how his name rarely ever comes up in any physics textbooks?

 

Well in fact, Tesla’s name is mentioned all the time as long as you study electromagnetism. I mean the unit of the magnetic field is named after him, isn’t it? On the other hand, I haven’t seen Edison’s name mentioning anywhere in IB physics textbooks. Perhaps it is conspiracy against Edison? :P

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Sorry for the late reply (Exams in less than a week)

 

First of all, I think its quite weird and over the top for Forbes to critique a web comic like that. And it isn't surprising Forbes would take the side of the industrialist over the futurist. True, the unit of magnetic field is named after him, but that is because his work was unparalleled in this field, way more than Faraday whose name hogs the limelight in chapter in the textbook. Tesla's contributions are WAY more than that As for Edison, from his two notable inventions, the phonograph and the light bulb, only one was original.  Secondly, The editor of The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, is quite well known for supporting Nikola Tesla. In fact, about 2 years back, he famously started a campaign to raise finds for to prevent the Wardenclyffe Tower,  from being used as office space and instead be used as a museum in honor of the scientist who built the tower, Tesla. The campaign was wildly successful of course. The fact remains that Tesla was terribly unfortunate to be born in an era where incremental practical ideas were more appreciated than revolutionary epic ones, and that after all AC system is still several times more efficient and faster (AND safe) than DC system. It seems to me that Edison was a great business man. He was an intelligent man and new how to capitalize on his good fortune. Nikola Tesla was a sheer Genius. He bordered insanity. Of Edisons 100 plus patients how many were ORIGINAL ideas? Of Tesla's 112 I can bet they were all original ideas. Edison believed that fossil fuels were the future and that there were enough resources in South America to provide for the next 50,000 years. On the other hand, Tesla believed that renewable energy sources like hydroelectric, solar, and wind power were the future. This is remarkable because in the 1890s there was no such thing as "going green," so Tesla's ideas even on conservation were very forward-thinking at the time.Tesla didn't care for the mundane things we ordinary people take for granted.. He had a grand vision of what the future would look like and he tried to make it a reality. The Edison-Tesla comparison along with the Musk-Jobs  comparisons are what I like to call the Businessman-Engineer tussle. However smart a money-making businessman Edison might be, calling him an "inventor" or a "physicist" is irrational. I am glad to see that more people are being aware of Tesla's enormous contribution to electricity, radio, electromagentism and wireless technology.

 

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I've known theoatmeal comics for quite a while, but I had kind of forgotten them, so firstly I would like to thank you for reminding me this author.

Secondly, I'd like to say that this is going to be a one-sided argument, as I'm quite a fan of Tesla myself so anyway here is my opinion: as theoatmeal states himself in his response to Forbes, he is a comedian and he speaks in hiperbole, exagerating the actual facts. However without a shadow of doubt Tesla diserves far more than he is given credit for, and Edison was rather a ******bag, just because his idea of science involving marketing (it is a fact that he wasn't interested in anything that wouldn't produce economical benefits), once again as theoatmeal says himself.

Nevertheless there as thousands cases in history were geniuses are discredited by "financial minds" (people dedicated to business, that investigated to sell the outcome); there one perfect example in the history of photography, what we first consider a "photo" was called a "daguerrotipo" announced and comercialized by Louis Daguerre, when it was in fact Joseph Nièpce the one who actually discovered-perfectionated the procedure. (I'd recommend looking into this, it's very interesting). It is often the extrovert who is remembered when in fact there's a genius behind.

 

So I woulnd't go as far as conspiracy, but Tesla surely should be given more credit. 

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