ISBN is

978-0-7472-7588-6 / 9780747275886

The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century: Nikola Tesla - Forgotten Genius of Electricity

by

Publisher:Headline Book Publishing

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

The Man who Invented the Twentieth Century argues, legitimately, that Nikola Tesla was the most important of the inventors who made modern life possible, simply because his insistence on making alternating current the standard made electrical equipment so much more versatile than would have been the case had Edison won.

"Sparking and crackling round his darkened laboratory, making lamps glow from his pointing finger, (Tesla) must have presented an awesome spectacle, must have looked like a modern god of lightning ... The effects of Edison's claim about the deadly risks of AC electricity were being disproved in a most spectacular fashion."

The tragedy was that Tesla was so self-destructively naive in his dealings with other scientists, with money-men and with the state. Typically, he had his money stolen on the way to the US, but managed to get aboard his liner by explaining what had happened and proving his identity; then nearly starved because he had no money for food and was too proud to ask for help. Lomas is excellent on this self-destructive streak--Tesla constantly alienated the powerful while putting himself in their power and talked as if the Nobel Prize, unlikely ever to be given to "a mere engineer", was in his grasp. Lomas takes us through the technicalities of the famous inventions and makes what case can be made for the crankier things--the electric laxative, broadcast power and various death rays; ironically Tesla's disdain for theory meant he never read the Einstein paper on which lasers would eventually be based. --Roz Kaveney

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