Nikola Tesla is regarded as one of the most infamous scientists of all time. Whether you regard him as a genius, or a complete crackpot, his brilliance and sheer imagination cannot be denied. Tesla came up with thousands of genius inventions and ideas during his time, many of which were ultimately deemed impractical or supremely dangerous.
If you ever wanted to know why Tesla is seen by many as a mad genius, look no further than …
10. Harnessing Cosmic Rays
Among Tesla’s various fascinations was the idea of harnessing free energy. Free energy can come from places like static, atomic, or radiant energy and it involves harnessing the extremely minimal power from almost infinite resources. The idea of harnessing free energy is regarded as pseudoscience to most researchers, because they feel it isn’t practical or even possible for mass use.
Tesla thought that if he could build a viable machine to harness this energy, the world’s energy problems would finally be over. Tesla believed that little particles with very small charge are constantly raining down on us travelling faster than light. He thought that he had built a machine capable of capturing these particles, and converting them into usable energy. He was even granted a patent for his “Utilizing Radiant Energy Device“. His invention claimed to be able to directly change ions into usable energy, though unfortunately these claims have never been reproducible.
9. Electrodynamics Induction
Though he was the father of AC, Tesla dreamed of a world that could be powered wirelessly. To do this, he proposed the creation of a World Wireless System, which would consist of a Tesla Tower transmitting electricity and energy wirelessly all over the world. He had proven his idea of wireless transmission to the public through several demonstration of powering a light bulb using a Tesla coil from several feet away.
Tesla began his dream by constructing the Wardenclyffe Tower in New York. Unfortunately, the tower lost funding after the financier, J.P. Morgan, discovered Tesla’s plans for giving out free wireless electricity, instead of just using the tower for telecommunication. This was the last step in Tesla’s World Wireless System, and it would be used in conjunction with his other two inventions: the Tesla Coils and Magnifying Transmitter. If Tesla had his way, the only thing people would need to receive free and unlimited electricity would be an antenna. The system would be completely renewable, not drawing any energy when it is not in use as well as having no negative effects on the environment or people.
This idea was largely suppressed by the U.S. government and his investors, who didn’t seem to be keen and supplying the money to create energy that they couldn’t profit from. As World War II approached, it’s not a surprise that the government became leery of this giant tower and Tesla’s giant dreams. It was quickly demolished and used for scrap to aid with the war effort. More recently though, Tesla’s once-crackpot idea of wireless energy has been proven a possibility by a team of researchers at MIT who were recently able to energize a light bulb from seven feet away.
8. Cold Fire
Another one of Tesla’s fascinating inventions hoped to eliminate the use of soap and water in bathrooms, once and for all. It’s not a secret that electricity and water don’t mix but, as it turns out, electricity and germs are even bigger enemies than germs and water.
In an anomaly known as Cold Fire, the human body would be energized with a rapidly alternating current of 2.5 million volts while standing on a metal plate. The sight itself is remarkable to see as beams of electricity crackle, pop, and envelope the person in the fire. This method is effective thanks to the conductivity of human skin, and tends to be even cleaner than washing with soap and water. Tesla claimed this invention wasn’t only good for cleaning, but was medicinal as well. All it takes is standing on a metal plate for dust, dander, and dirt to be shot off the body, leaving the person with an exhilarating and tingly sensation. It could warm people it the coldest of places as well as producing a beneficial amount of ozone after each use. This invention crumbled, as most of Tesla’s did, due to cost and safety concerns for users, despite its clear and immediate benefits.
Nikola Tesla contributed many inventions to improve conditions on Earth, but another one of his greatest endeavors was supposedly creating a device to communicate with aliens. Tesla claimed that he was able to talk with extraterrestrial life on several occasions using his Teslascope, but these claims have never been verified. While working in his mad scientist lab in Colorado, Tesla claims to have heard distinct clicking noises that were unlike anything he had heard from Earth. These clicks were heard while working with his Magnifying Transmitters, and came in distinct sets of one through four, much like Morse code.
Another spin-off of the Teslascope is known as the Hyperdimensional Oscillator and it also works by converting the free energy cosmic rays into energy that can be used by humans. It can transfer mass amount of energy through space with no regard to distance. Sadly, few took Tesla’s claims of contacting aliens from Mars seriously because of his lack of peers and evidence, though he continued to stand by his encounter. Aside from his signal magnifier, Tesla also had hopes of being able to prove the existence of life on Mars using giant reflectors from Earth’s surface.
6. Tesla’s Death Ray
While Tesla’s inventions may seem dangerous, Tesla himself hated war and focused a lot of his time and energy on creating a “Death Ray” to be able to prevent it. The Death Ray worked as a particle accelerator capable of shooting a beam of high-powered particles a distance of over 250 miles. He claimed it could melt engines and take down any aircraft. He called the Death Ray a Teleforce machine, and claimed it would require nothing more than one $2,000,000 plant for an endless amount of aerial protection.
When Tesla attempted to pitch his idea to his investor J.P. Morgan for prototype funds, Morgan declined. Using 80,000,000 volts, Tesla claimed the beam could penetrate anything and everything that crossed its path. Despite Tesla’s convincing argument for the building of his Teleforce plant and the amount of money and lives it would save, both the British and US governments turned it down. It did receive some interest from the Russian government however, who supposedly allowed Tesla the ability to construct his Death Ray for a test run. Many conspiracy theorists claim that this test run was the true cause of the Tunguska Explosion.
5. Weather Control
One of man’s greatest unconquered challenges is the ability to control the weather. Tesla however, thought he had conceptualized the solution to this very problem. Tesla thought that with his idea, temperature could be controlled like a global thermostat, and fertile farmland could be created in any environment, simply by using specific radio waves to manipulate Earth’s magnetic field in the ionosphere and create huge standing waves. Then, these waves would be used to manipulate various wind patterns and therefore, the weather.
Many patents were filed by Tesla in his pursuit to control the weather involving Extremely Low Frequency, and he supposedly proved that the waves could be made and used to control weather. Some conspiracy theorists feel that Tesla’s paper ultimately fell into the wrong hands, and are being used right now to control the weather. They point to this as the explanation for our recently odd global weather patterns and unfavorable sustained weather patterns, like droughts in certain parts of the world.
4. X-Ray Gun
The discovery of the X-ray by William Roentgen fascinated many, including Tesla. Using Roentgen’s original designs, Tesla began to expand on his experiments with the X-rays. Tesla would invite people into his salons to become demonstrations for the audience.
During this time, Tesla began to become very close with Mark Twain, who frequented Tesla’s salons after Tesla cured his constipation. Twain and Tesla were frequently found playing with this so-called “X-Ray Gun” that Tesla had invented. It is said that they would hang paper after paper of undeveloped film on a wall, then take turns blasting each other with the machine. The X-ray guns that Tesla created had the ability to shoot enormous amount of X-rays over a distance of up to 40 ft.
Though the invention was deemed incredibly fun by both Twain and Tesla, it seemed to fail in the practicality sector and never really caught on. The giant x-ray body maps of both Tesla and Twain can still be seen today.
3. Alternating Current
Nikola Tesla began working for Thomas Edison in 1882 when he moved to Paris for a job with the Continental Edison Company. It didn’t take long before Tesla’s genius was recognized, and he was requested to move to America to work alongside Edison himself, who had just developed the infamous direct current, which he thought would be the answer to everyone’s prayers when it came to electricity.
The direct current generator had several problems, and Edison promised $50,000 to Tesla if he could redesign and fix the issues. Tesla followed through on his end of the bargain by producing several patents to solve Edison’s problems, though Edison never did follow through with the money. This forced Tesla to leave Edison and form his own company, where he began to develop a new means of electricity known as the alternating current. There were obvious and major benefits to using alternative versus direct current, like the ability to change voltage and transmit it over long distances, saving both power and money for the users.
And with this, the War of the Currents had begun. Edison was furious to hear that his apprentice had broken off to team up with George Westinghouse, and did everything in his power to discredit AC. Edison held large demonstrations to scare the public away from AC by claiming it could burn their house down, electrocuting several different animals with AC including dogs, horses, elephants, and even humans (using AC to power the first electric chair).
For once though, Tesla’s ideas proved sustainable beyond the laboratory. He was able to gain support for the safety of AC when he passed a frequency high enough to power a light bulb without any injury at the 1893 World Exposition. Eventually, alternating current won out, and is still what powers basically all of our electricity today.
2. Lighting the World
What if an invention was created with the ability to light up the entire world and all of its contents? This would reduce the need for lights, and major disasters could be avoided because of the lack of darkness. Well, this is the exact idea that Nikola Tesla had in mind when he began developing a plan to illuminate the world. He wanted to use the principle of rarefied gas luminescence, which states that particles certain gas particles give off a glow when they become excited with energy. He planned to aim a very strong beam of energy like an ultraviolet ray gun into the upper part of our atmosphere causing the low-pressure particles to cast a glow over the entire Earth much like the aurora borealis.
Tesla felt that using his method, accidents like the Titanic could be forever avoided, but clearly not enough people backed his plan.
1. Tesla’s Oscillator
Everything is made up of atoms, and every single object has a natural frequency that these particles vibrate at. When a mechanical system’s oscillation frequency matches this natural frequency, the system responds at much greater amplitude. An example of the destruction that mechanical frequencies can have is the failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. This strong suspension bridge crumbled when it’s resonance frequency was hit by relatively light wind.
Using this concept, Tesla was thought to have developed a pocket-sized invention with enough power to bring down an entire building. He described the story to a reporter that he was experimenting with his new invention and different vibrations. As he turned the machine higher, a strange noise was made, and a cracking began to develop. Suddenly, everything in his lab began flying around to the point where both police and emergency services were called. Tesla had to smash the machine with a hammer before the building came crashing down.
When asked what it would take to destroy the Empire State Building, Tesla replied that all he would need was his invention, five pounds of air pressure, and enough time to find the correct vibration. He thought his machine would be able to transmit mechanical energy to any part of the world using telegeodynamics, though no one has been able to prove or recreate his claims. He also thought that his oscillators had great healing powers if they were dialed into the natural frequency of the human body, yet another mad scientist claim that has yet to become reality in a non-mad world.