Episode #904

Nikola Tesla: Strange Genius

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Studio 360 Episode 948, Nikola Tesla: Strange Genius Nikola Tesla, with Rudjer Boscovich's book "Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis", in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer at East Houston St., New York (Nikola Tesla/Wikimedia Commons)

The astounding mad scientist life of Nikola Tesla. Just who was this pioneer of radio, radar, and wireless communication? We discover his legacy in the work of today’s scientists and artists. Samantha Hunt’s new novel The Invention of Everything Else is a fictional portrait of Tesla. Monologist Mike Daisey tells us how Tesla X-rayed Mark Twain’s head. And across the country, garage inventors toil in obscurity at the next breakthrough that will change the world.

Introducing Nikola Tesla

Part visionary, part mad scientist, and absolute genius, Tesla should be as famous as Edison – but he’s been largely forgotten. Kurt talks with Samantha Hunt about her new novel The Invention of Everything Else. Tesla is the protagonist, and despite the outlandish biographical details ...

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Tesla vs. Edison

Tesla’s biggest innovation was introducing alternating current as the standard for modern electric power, breaking Thomas Edison’s monopoly on DC power. Mike Daisey is an author and monologuist who performs a one-man show about Tesla, and he tells us how AC/DC isn’t just a band.

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Transmit This

A lot of us learned that Guglielmo Marconi invented radio, but Nikola Tesla transmitted electromagnetic waves before Marconi –- the Supreme Court decided the case in 1943. Jim Stagnitto, the Director of Engineering for WNYC, gives Kurt a tour at the top of the Empire ...

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Tesla and Twain

Tesla was a flamboyant character who held salons where he played fast and loose with technology. Mike Daisey tells the story of Tesla, Mark Twain, and an X-ray gun.

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Mr. Spock and Dr. Strangelove

Samantha Hunt describes the turning point in Tesla’s life when he began acting like a mad scientist, almost taking a page from the movies. And biologist Vincent Pieribone thinks that Hollywood’s most dangerous fantasy about “mad scientists” is that scientists have any power at ...

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The Death Ray

Mike Daisey completes his life story of Tesla with this tale about the scientist’s real Dr. Strangelove moment: inventing the ultimate superweapon. But did it work? The government thought it might, and the Cold War got hotter.

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Wanted: Bold Thinkers

Much of science today is grant-dependent and discourages dreamy, out-of-box thinking –- because who wants to fund mistakes? Samantha Hunt warns Kurt that Tesla’s visionary approach to science is all but extinct.

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Garage Inventors

All over the country, amazing science is happening without institutional or government funding. Matthew Cavnar talked to inventors in garages, basements, a Quonset hut, even NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to see what home inventors are doing in the 21st century.


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Web Extra: The Invention of Everything Else

Samantha Hunt reads from the end of her novel.


Web Extra: Tesla in New York

Tesla arrived in New York City in 1884 with 4 cents in his pocket and dreams of becoming a great scientist and discoverer. Explore Tesla's life in the city through this interactive map, along with photos, video and audio.

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Adil Hindistan from NJ

This was a fascinating story, and great presentation. I could not leave my car until the end of it. Next time you see one of these guys sitting in the car in a parking lot, you know what they may be up to.

Jan. 31 2012 09:44 PM

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