She understood me and I understood her. I loved that pigeon. Yes, I loved her as a man loves a woman, and she loved me.
-Nikola Tesla on his beloved avian amigo
Tesla (1856-1943) and 12 year old girls have a few things in common. They both tend to:
- Care a great deal about their looks
- Believe the other sex to have cooties
- Delight in warm milk and crackers
- Engage in catty rivalries with peers
Despite his quirks, Tesla’s brilliance is formidable. He is most famous for being down with the curves – that is, those of Alternating Current (AC) power transmission as opposed to Direct Current (DC). Straight-flying Edison, meanwhile, advocated for DC. Hence, the War of Currents that raged betwixt them!
The productive electrical engineer also conceived of an induction motor, a high-voltage generator, a flying machine and wireless transmission. He enjoyed some zanier pursuits as well, such as Martian radio communication.
Numbers dictated much of Tesla’s life – they were the stuff of his work and they dominated his decision-making a la OCD. He loved 3, developing rituals around it and preferring numbers divisible by it. For example, he required a pile of 18 napkins at dinner. Since germs, along with pearls and human hair, frightened Tesla, handwashing was one of his favorite pastimes.
This Serbian celibate was also a dreamer. For hours, he would immerse himself in virtual reality simulation, mentally mapping out technical inventions. He drew diagrams in the sand with a stick. He enjoyed writing about himself in the 3rd person. Over a tall glass of Ambrosia, he poured over Voltaire’s entire oeuvre. During sleepless nights, he worked in darkened rooms in his New York and Colorado labs.
Later in his life, he holed himself up in a hotel room, went into debt and became fast friends with street pigeons.
To live Tesla, I will:
- Think numerically
- Daydream my novel’s plot up
- Defend Alternating Current to any lingering DC devotees
- Drink Ambrosia (and first find out what it is)
- Write in the dark
- Read Voltaire