Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Climbing My Family Tree ...

I've known for some time that I'm distantly related to Nikola Tesla.

But it wasn't until the 4th of July when my friend Doreen was here and overheard someone -- my mother, must have been -- mentioning it that I really bothered to find out much about him. Doreen wanted to know what I knew about him.

Um, not much. He's credited with developing alternating current. Edison was the man behind direct current. AC is better, but Edison made better business decisions and got all the money and glory. (Tesla worked for Edison for a time, on the promise of $50,000, which Edison reneged on. Nice)

But Doreen's interest sparked my own, so I've been poking around the Web, reading up on him here and there. (There's a Tesla coil in the Smithsonian with a bust of Edison next to it. How's that for unfair?) I'm a big fan of electricity (I have AC adapters all over my house!), but the coolest thing I've come across about my cousin is that he didn't have many close friends (we share that trait), but one of his closest was Mark Twain.

Mark Frickin' Twain! Hello! What kind of a hoot would it be to travel back in time and hang out in New York with Mark Twain?!

Sadly, Tesla did not invent a time machine.

Reading further about him, on more than one occasion, I've run across the word "crackpot." This guy was the human condition, all wrapped up in one person: Revered by Nobel scientists, adversary of Thomas Edison, close friend of one of the most famous authors in history, crackpot.

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