and obligatory MeFi-related post /31362
here's some highlights from the bio:
Tesla and his assistants built a one-of-a-kind laboratory on the outskirts of town, which looked like a large barn topped by a 180-foot metal tower. This was Tesla's "magnifying transformer," which he called the greatest of his inventions.[source]
The townspeople of Colorado Springs were naturally curious about what this great inventor was up to, and respected the signs around the perimeter of the compound reading "KEEP OUT -- GREAT DANGER!" Still, they soon felt the effects of Tesla's apparatus. Sparks leapt from the ground as people walked the streets, singeing their feet through their shoes. The grass around the Tesla building glowed with a faint blue light. Metal objects held near fire hydrants would draw miniature lightning bolts from several inches away. Switched-off light bulbs within 100 feet of the tower spontaneously lit.
And Tesla was only tuning up his equipment. These were the side effects of adjusting the magnifying transformer into perfect resonance with the earth. Once it was properly calibrated, Tesla was ready to conduct his career's boldest symphony, using the entire planet as his orchestra.
Late one night in the fall of 1899, Tesla fired up his machine at full blast, in hopes of producing a phenomenon he called resonant rise. His tower pumped ten million volts into the earth's surface. The current raced through the earth at the speed of light, powerful enough to keep from dying out over the course of its journey. When it reached the opposite side of the planet, it bounced back, like ripples of water returning to their origin. Upon returning, the current was greatly weakened; but Tesla was sending out a series of pulses which reinforced one another, resulting in a tremendous cumulative effect.
At ground zero, where Tesla and his assistant stood bedazzled, the resonant rise manifested itself in an unearthly display of lightning that still stands as the most powerful man-made electrical surge in history. The returning current formed an arc of lightning that stretched skyward from Tesla's tower and progressively grew to an incredible 130 feet long. Apocalyptic crashes of thunder were heard twenty-two miles away. Tesla had been concerned that there might be an upper limit to generating resonant surges, but now he believed the potential was limitless. The demonstration did come to an unexpected halt, but that was because the power surge caused the overloaded Colorado Springs power generator to burst into flames.
First, even if Tesla's later ideas were dead wrong, they by no means diminish the immense quantity of very right ideas that he contributed to our world. And second, it bears remembering that alternating current was also perceived as unrealistic Tesla gibberish for quite some time before its true brilliance was finally proven. There is the possibility, however remote, that Tesla's most bizarre concepts will be validated at some point in the future, when science finally catches up with him. Only time will tell.[source]
For now, Tesla's true legacy is increasingly being recognized, bit by bit. The Supreme Court ruled shortly after his death that Tesla was the legal inventor of radio, not Guglielmo Marconi. Similarly, Tesla has been rightfully acknowledged as the inventor of the fluorescent bulb, the vacuum tube amplifier and the X-ray machine. History books are now starting to include these facts.
also, this thread is superficial at times, but interesting..