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Today is the 153rd anniversary of Nikola Tesla's birth.

Tesla was the living, breathing embodiment of the two-word phrase "mad scientist".

Some of the Scientist Bits - He designed the turbines that first generated power from Niagara Falls, patented many of the theories that eventually led to the invention of radio-broadcast, and invented the flourescent, filament-free lightbulb (You know, the super-efficient coiled bulbs that we're all using to save power now).

He also designed and built test-models of radio-controlled automata, dreamed of giving the world free, wireless broadcast power, and may or may not have invented a particle-beam weapon that he referred to as a "death ray".

Some of the Mad bits - On the other hand, he rarely paid his hotel bills, went through phases where he would only eat "white" foods, became so obsessed with feeding the pigeons of New York City that he paid bellhops to do it when he was too sick to go out, and thought that he had received signals from Mars.

Victorian-era spiritualists and extra-terrestrial enthusiasts called him "The Man Who Fell to Earth". David Bowie sort of played him here: The Man Who Fell to Earth. And then again, more recently, under his real name, here: The Prestige. I think the second one is cooler.

He has his own museum, but it's in Serbia, so I haven't visited.

But PBS has a webpage dedicated to him from their 2004 season, which is nice.

He also has an electric car company named after him, which makes sense, and a band, which doesn't, really. Because seriously, what band named after Tesla should proudly proclaim that their music involves "no machines"?

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