Nikola Tesla, who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety before those conditions were understood, is in my opinion, the smartest man ever. He was recommended to Thomas Edison by a colleague as a young Serbian scientist. Asked by Edison to fix his theory of direct current so it would be more useful, Tesla did so, being promised $50,000. Thomas Edison paid him $8 instead, saying welcome to America and our sense of humor.
To get even, Tesla created alternating current, which powers nearly everything in the world now. Tesla said that Edison would try 1,000 different things when simple math would have eliminated them in minutes. Edison actually despised formal education and the scientific method, but he hired a team of scientists as the Wizards of Menlo Park, and took credit for all their inventions.
Tesla was able to see new inventions in his head, then draw them in great detail as a sketch. Most people then could not even comprehend his ideas, even when shown the diagrams. As he aged, the battle between his backers – Westinghouse, and the Edison Company, backed by JP Morgan became brutal, and were publicly known as the current wars. Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant in public to show Tesla’s AC power was too dangerous.
Tesla buckled under the strain and became reclusive. He had to have three napkins at a table and walk around the table three times to eat. However, he went on to invent things that even now are revolutionary. He built a large Tesla coil that powered a town of 30,000 people, with no wires, for free. He had plans for death rays. He even said he had developed a Tesla tower that could provide power for free to the entire world, as well as video and radio, but if set to the Earth’s frequency, it could destroy the planet.
The mad genius had accomplished so much magic, that upon his death, the US Government confiscated his paperwork and ideas, and to this day, no kidding, they are still locked in Top Secret vaults. Many feared that Tesla truly had discovered a way to destroy the planet. He invented radio years before Marconi, but never got the credit. Oddly enough, his one true friend was Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.
The following is a YouTube video that goes through some of his inventions, but far from all of them:
As a tribute, Nikola Tesla will play a key role in The Travelers’ Club series, in Book 2, 3 and 4, of the five book series.