You would think one crush on a longdead celebrity would be more than enough. I’ve adored poet Rainer Maria Rilke from across time for…um…ages, and eventually he was joined in my way-cool-people-no-longer-with-us mental files by Nikola Tesla, as I kept learning fascinating stuff about him. This article has a lot of info any Tesla fan will find interesting, cool, and surprisingly charming. Some of the details are obscure and personal, and left me feeling as if I attended a dinner party where friends of the dapper scientist told stories only they knew.

Some of them made me smile, such as his sense of humor. Quite the practical joke he played on Mark Twain. Not sure where his aversion to pearls falls on the scale from endearing to a little crazy. And it’s intriguing that he had wealthy friends and lived in the Waldorf Astoria. Tales of his later life with which I was more familiar make it too easy to forget that his scientific genius paralleled the excessive drive and its resulting wealth of men like Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan in the Gilded Age.

The one that stunned me was the way he reached so far toward the future…our present…when he envisioned the smartphone and wireless internet. He didn’t call his ideas by those terms and they were distinctly Teslaian, but he was spot on with his intentions.

If only he could walk our modern streets, and see so many of us with our personal devices so similar to his own ideas practically glued to our heads, he would revel in our embracing of technology, communication, and connectivity. Sometimes I wonder what our world would be like today, if he lived now instead of then. It’s absolute tragedy that a man so far ahead of his time died a man so misunderstood as he lived. Alone and largely unsung, with pure genius sparking from his mind like the lightning bolts leapt from his Tesla coils.

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