Monday, November 19, 2012
I actually meant to pick-up a book about Nikola Tesla ages ago, but when I saw "Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius" on the new arrivals shelf at the library I finally had the topic thrust toward me. I'm interested in the topic and it was free. A perfect storm.
Besides examining Tesla, what I find so fascinating about the book is how well it situates Tesla in the larger world around him and the kind of profound technological changes that were happening at the turn of the last century.
People didn't have electricity, even in the cities and this was a time without radio. Books, newspapers, and magazines were the principle purveyors of information and news. And at that same time in different parts of the world there's the onset of wireless communication, electricity (Tesla's AC current winning out over the DC advocated by people like Thomas Edison), and flight technology. All of this would bring profound social, commercial, and economic changes to the entire planet, but the author, Marc Seifer, argues convincingly, I think, that Tesla -- a single person -- had more impact on those three than anyone else.