Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was arguably the most brilliant electrical engineer of all time. His understanding of electric phenomena was so far ahead of his time that some of his experiments (such as the wireless transmission of power) were only duplicated more than 110 years after he first proved the concept in 1893. Some of his particle beam weapon ideas have yet to be realized, but given his track record, the theory behind those ideas are likely to be very sound. His more practical achievements in electrical power generation and transmission affect everyone’s life in modern, industrialized societies and his more esoteric experiments are too complex and numerous to cover in this space.

As impressed as Soul in the Machine is by Tesla’s brilliance in engineering and science, we also view him as an object lesson. Tesla had a weakness in that he did experiments to the point of proving the concept, but he was so creative and restless that he would move on to working on the next discovery without making the last one commercially viable. Obviously, he was a horrible businessman. SitM has shared some of that wanderlust and we seek to deviate from Tesla’s example in that regard. Commercial viability is important – certain types of art/technology/research projects are not sustainable without a constant infusion of resources.

Tesla died broke and in debt in New York City in the midst of World War II. His work was so advanced that the War Department feared that it would fall into Axis hands even though the military bureaucracy had ignored his sales pitch on guided torpedos and beam weapons (he proved the guided torpedo concept with a wireless guided boat demonstraton in 1898(!) at Madison Square Gardens – ‘smart’ munitions were finally used by the US military 90 years later). The War Department declared his papers (80 trunks full) to be top secret and confiscated the entire lot.