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Tesla is the greatest mind who ever lived

  1. Feb 8, 2014 #1
    I believe tesla is the greatest mind who ever lived, even better than Einstein, and even Edison! But most of the people I know didn't even know who Tesla is before I told them, so not much of an opinion. So, let's have a conversation with people who are interested in science. What do you think about that?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 8, 2014 #2
    So you consider Edison to be greater then Einstein?
  4. Feb 8, 2014 #3


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    Hmm, I bet this topic has NEVER come up before. :rolleyes:
  5. Feb 8, 2014 #4


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    1. This is "Current Events"?

    2. Why is there such a "cult" following of Tesla?

    3. I bet you your Tesla against my John Bardeen. I can easily repeat exactly what you said ("... most of the people I know didn't even know who John Bardeen is before I told them... "). Bet you don't know of him either!

  6. Feb 8, 2014 #5
    I wonder that myself. I think the idea of a mostly unknown genius who invented everything just appeals to a lot of people. And I glanced at his wikipedia page and it seems he never graduated from college? That might be crucial to his following--projection and all of that. Maybe it's the same reason the comments on Pete Maravich's youtube videos claim he's the best basketball player ever.

    I mean, Maravich was fantastic and I'm sure Tesla was too, but some people go way overboard.
  7. Feb 8, 2014 #6
    Since it is Current Events:

    Benjamin Banneker - yes a real person. US Postal service issued a stamp in 1980.

    I especially consider a functioning clock made out of wood to be a sign of pure genius.

  8. Feb 8, 2014 #7


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    As has been said and/or hinted at in other posts on this thread, this exact question has come up here several times before and the consensus is VERY clear .... Tesla was a second-level scientist not even remotely in the same league as Newton / Einstein / etc.

    He is over-hyped by the media and has a cult following of people who don't really understand science at all. Actual scientists don't think all that much of him.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  9. Feb 8, 2014 #8


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    I think you need to stop jumping on the reddit bandwaggon.
  10. Feb 8, 2014 #9


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    From the wikipeda page on Tesla:
    All that is obviously part of a government cover-up of something or other. So logically, he must still be alive, and this does belong in "Current Events" :biggrin:
  11. Feb 8, 2014 #10
    The cult of Tesla was conceived of, and initiated by,...Tesla!

    Tesla courted the press and gave many, many interviews over the course of his life. He developed a way of speaking about himself and his inventions that subtly incited the reader to be amazed by his thinking processes. He was not unlike Houdini in that regard. Just as Houdini created his own legend, the legend of Tesla was created by Tesla, and so was the notion that he was under-rated compared to Edison. No one disseminated that latter idea more than Tesla did. Like Houdini, Tesla had a long period during which he gave lecture/demonstrations of the fantastic effects he could produce with high frequency-high voltage electricity. Shooting long sparks out of his fingertips and causing evacuated tubes to glow in strange, colorful ways, gave him the aura of a kind of electrical wizard. First and foremost, Tesla was a showman.

    To his credit, though, he knew he was a mere EE and inventor. I'm not aware he ever tried to pass himself off as a physicist or even a scientist.
  12. Feb 8, 2014 #11
    Not to mention movies like the Prestige (one of my favorite movies), which add to his legend. If you've seen the movie, you know how they take it to whole new levels with that guy.
  13. Feb 8, 2014 #12
    Nice. I can't say I blame him. Choosing between being known as some magical electrical wizard with the greatest mind of all time and...not being known as that, is kind of a no-brainer. To do it without even claiming to be a scientist is just the icing on the cake.
  14. Feb 8, 2014 #13


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    And you're forgetting, he got a fancy car named after him. P. T. Barnum never had that honor.

    (Oh wait...was the PT Cruiser named after him? And does that even qualify as an "honor?" :tongue2:)
  15. Feb 8, 2014 #14
    What I have seen is that most people that are so amazed by Tesla never heard of James Clerk Maxwell or Josiah Willard Gibbs.
  16. Feb 8, 2014 #15


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    I think there's two things that impress people about Tesla. One, he was a showman:


    and Two, he was an idealist about free wireless energy.

    My favorite name drop is probably Poincare.
  17. Feb 9, 2014 #16


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    and massively unrealistic about it.
  18. Feb 9, 2014 #17
    The photo's a double exposure, by the way...
    To give an idea of the magnitude of the discharge the experimenter is sitting slightly behind the "extra coil". Of course, the discharge was not playing when the experimenter was photographed, as might be imagined!
    -Tesla's notes
  19. Feb 9, 2014 #18


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    I think we all have to come to terms that everyone is going to have some kind of selection bias on who they think is great or not so great.

    Tesla himself has a massive portfolio of patents, numerous inventions linking to motors, distribution of electric energy (in AC), radio based communication, turbines and other equipment which provide a lot of the significant basis for modern civilization which is an energy based society based on electromagnetism instead of other means.

    Even with the above though, there is going to preference, self-selection, and selective amnesia with regard to who is "the best" and without any objective measure of what best actually means, the whole exercise is pretty much pointless.
  20. Feb 9, 2014 #19
    Good points especially the other point of him not having graduated college and how it gives fuel for a certain type of science aficionado who has never and never plans to go to college.
  21. Feb 9, 2014 #20

    jim hardy

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    Tesla's three phase motor and transformer were good inventions - but the time was ripe for them. Elihu Thompson and others were also working on rotating magnetic fields in 1880's.

    But in my humble opinion he became obsessed with resonance phenomena and went off the deep end. Westinghouse didn't let him go without reason. But they made so much money from his inventions that in his later years when he was living in poverty, Westinghouse came to his aid out of noblesse oblige.

    GE had Steinmetz who was in my opinion a more competent genius, see "Modern Jupiter" by ASME.
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