Nikola Tesla, credited by many as the inspiration for radios, robots, and even radar, has been called the patron saint of modern electricity. "Wizard" is the definitive biography of this founding father of modern technology of photos .
Tesla did make significant advancements in alternating current machinery and in his work with coils and oscillators. But Tesla's concepts on the propagation of electromagnetic waves, as well as Seifer's interpretation was greatly lacking. Tesla believed that electromagnetic waves traveled as compression waves through the ether. Seifer, on page 102 refers to the 1881 Michelson and Morely experiments as "unsuccessfully tried to measure the ether..." Those experiments proved that, as far as electromagnetic propagation is concerned, there is no ether. Tesla claimed that he could communicate throughout the whole world from one location and went through hundreds of thousands of dollars in attempts to develop this. All one has to do is to look atTesla's Wardenclyffe tower as described and shown in the book to realize that if Tesla were the only one working on wireless communication we might not even have it today. On page 475, Seifer tells of a coil "50 miles in length or one forth the wavelength of light ...." The wave length of light is less than one millionth of a meter. The book describes many other concepts that Tesla raised money for but never brought to fruition. Tesla, as described in the book, was a showman and, perhaps a con artists promising his investors, such as Astor and Morgan, large returns but never accomplishing anything of merit for them.Read more ›
Taking advantage of ill-defined intellectual property laws and the vagaries of international court systems, other well-known inventors such as Pupin, Marconi, and Steinmetz either "borrowed" his discoveries or helped write him out of the history books. While many rode Tesla's coattails to public recognition and, often, staggering financial success - the great man was left penniless and alone.
Seifer pulls no punches. Tesla made a series of startling gaffes. From ill-conceived contracts with Westinghouse (leaving him with no ongoing revenue from his discovery of the AC polyphase system) to poor management of critical projects backed by J.P. Morgan, Tesla disappointed his financiers time and time again. Lack of prioritization, spinning off in too many directions simultaneously, poor project management - all contributed to Tesla's inability to achieve the breakthrough he needed (and deserved) for true financial independence.
Seifer covers Tesla's life in exceptional detail. His bizarre work habits (often sleeping only two hours a night), his odd social life (never married and apparently a lifelong celibate), and his many other idiosyncrasies are described with fascinating anecdotes. You don't need to be an Electrical Engineer, or a Scientist, or even technically savvy to thoroughly enjoy _Wizard_. In a nutshell: superb.
Overall, this is the number one book on Tesla so far. The best starting point and reference regarding Tesla's life and work.
"In 1976... Read more