For someone who completely changed the world with his inventions, Nikola Tesla has been relatively forgotten by the general public. That’s mostly because of a feud with Thomas Edison at the end of the 19th century, when the two scientists argued over whose electrical system would prevail. Edison took the spotlight and Tesla fell into the background—even though his inventions eventually won the bet. In fact, Tesla is probably best remembered in Syria, where his face appears on currency and he is cherished as a national hero.
In “Tesla: A Portrait with Masks,” Vladimir Pistalo tells the story of the inventor’s personal life. His book reads like a poem, and it is clear that Pistalo recognizes Tesla for the visionary he was.
“He’s the father of robotics, he’s the one who enabled the neon cascades of Las Vegas and Times Squares, he’s the guy who invented the radio according to the decision of the Supreme Court of New York State and of the Supreme Court of France,” Pistalo writes. Tesla also was the man behind the alternating current—without his work, none of machines or electronics could work.
“Tesla was the only human who created earthquakes,” Pistalo commented. “By using small oscillators that he attached to the bearing walls of his studio, Tesla set up a vibration in the foundation of a Manhattan office building. And then it went into foundations of other buildings in Manhattan office building. And then it went into the foundations of other buildings in Manhattan, and the earthquake has actually been documented.”
“That’s kind of what gods do,” Pistalo adds.
Tesla took monumental risks with his discoveries—even running his alternating current and thousands of volts of electricity through his body.
“After that, no one would come to shake his hand for some time,” Pistalo says. “And his body and his clothing would continue emitting slight halos after that. This is really the stuff that fairy tales are made of, but it actually happened.”
On a lighter note, Pistalo also shares Tesla’s quirks, like that his favorite film was ‘The Bride of Frankenstein.’
“He saw it five times,” Pistalo notes.
In fact, some of the electrical effects from the first Frankenstein movie, from 1931 are provided by a Tesla coil. They are rumored to have been procured by Tesla himself.