1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Was Nikola Tesla a little crazy or was it just the media?

  1. Sep 5, 2014 #1
    Nikola Tesla is probably the greatest inventor that the world ever knew. His inventions are used world wide and he has left his mark on this world through his inventions.

    Now what I am wondering is where did all these rumors and hype come from about Tesla and aliens and free energy and overunity etc...etc...

    I have read about Wardenclyffe tower and I understand how it was SUPPOSE to work but I am not sure if it would of since it was destroyed and the reason for it being destroyed is also added to the HYPE and RUMORS involving Tesla...

    So what is the cause of this? Was Tesla a little crazy or was it the people who created the rumors (I mean after all "crazy" is just another social construct).....
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2014 #2
    I mean not he "media" exactly but an 'esoteric' group or new agers that started it all?
  4. Sep 6, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  5. Sep 7, 2014 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Tesla had periods of genius and periods of madness.
    It takes close examination and analysis before an idea can be identified as a work of genius or a fantastic dream.
    True genius and true madness are quite inseparable by normal people without scientific training.
  6. Sep 7, 2014 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It seems like I have known a lot of people that applies to. As far as Tesla goes, I would have to agree with what has been posted in this thread so far.
  7. Sep 7, 2014 #6
    Sorry, but this is just a myth propagated by the internet. I'm not claiming he made nice inventions, but the "greatest inventor that the world ever knew"??
  8. Sep 7, 2014 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Invention is a multidimensional art. The “greatest inventor that the world ever knew.” needs some dimensional specification.

    The term “Inventor” can be pejorative. Inventors are often insane, with delusions of grandeur or manic depressive, with paranoia. Inventors often claim to have an idea that is worth a million dollars, but it is a secret because someone will steal it. In that sense Tesla was a great inventor.

    Inventors also often claim to be “successful” because they have a patent, without ever commercialising their invention. The number of patents granted is not relevant to the “greatness” of an inventor. Many patents are redundant, ignored, challenged, unrealistic or unenforcible. The patent office only does a cursory check before accepting the patent registration fees and the ongoing annual renewal payments.
  9. Sep 7, 2014 #8

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    So little was known about electricity in his day that it would be surprising to me if Tesla didn't go down some blind alleys.
    My own opinion is he got obsessive about resonance and went off the deep end thinking there was some already resonant or near resonant cosmic source he could tap into for free energy.

    In fact the atmosphere between ionosphere and ground can act like a waveguide for radio waves, that's why we had "Clear Channel" AM stations back in the 1960's. Growing up in Miami I could get WLS in Chicago ,WOWO in Ft Wayne , and KAAY in Little Rock at night when the ionosphere rises .
    Now that phenomenon is related to what Tesla proposed , to resonate the atmosphere.

    Here's an amateur scientist page with some interesting thoughts on Tesla's idea ,
    Tesla's three phase was brilliant, even if it does fall pretty directly from trig identities. His contemporary Steinmetz was first to use complex algebra notation to represent voltage as sinewaves which paved the way for Tesla's greatest contributions, his polyphase transformers and motors that electrified the world.

    my 2 cents
  10. Sep 7, 2014 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    That's correct about Steinmetz (but I don't recommend anybody tries to read his EE textbooks!!!). On the other hand, I've don't remember ever seeing anything written by Tesla or by his hagiographers that contained any mathematics at all.
  11. Sep 18, 2014 #10
    I read a book about "fringe science" (Please dont ask why). The book claimed that tesla had practiced ESP, and also how when he was young his mother trained him in the clairvoyant arts.

    So yeah, he probably was crazier than a s***house rat.
  12. Sep 18, 2014 #11
    Nikola Tesla was only moderately crazy, but his latter-day groupies have gone beyond the pale in the wacko department.

    The same thing happened to Ernst Lecher (see my demo video of the Lecher Wire). Countless New Age whack job groupies claim the Lecher wire can do anything from water dousing to finding "orgone" energy zones in the human body. Poor Ernst must be spinning in his grave.

    It's too bad that these brilliant genuine scientists have been "discovered" by pseudo-science tin-foil-hat wannabe space aliens.

    Now you know. :)

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook