The thing about Nikola Tesla is that those who know enough about him to care at all tend to care very, very much. Thanks to that devotion, and attempts to publicize the plight of Tesla’s Long Island laboratory, Wardenclyffe, real progress toward saving the site is finally being made.
Tesla, though he didn’t reap the great riches he deserved in life and hasn’t always gotten the credit, respect and fame he deserves in death, was the scientist behind an extraordinary proportion of the world’s modern miracles. In radio, and electricity, and engineering, and theoretical physics and sound transmission, and even in imagining and enabling the invention of the computer, Tesla was an unparalleled technologist and visionary. He was also astonishingly neurotic, particularly in his later years, a fact that has in some ways added to the man’s mystique.
From 1903 until 1915 he did his research on Long Island, in Shoreham, in a building designed by renowned architect Stanford White. The other main labs where Tesla worked, in New York City and Colorado, were destroyed long ago. Only Wardenclyffe remains as a place that could be preserved to commemorate his work.
Efforts to do so have been stop and go at best. About $1.6 million is needed to buy the property from the Belgian multinational that owns it, and almost $1 million has been raised thus far. Thanks to matching grants, that may well be enough, and the campaign that sparked the donations is scheduled to continue for several more weeks.
Newsday first publicized Wardenclyffe’s dire straits, but the cause was picked up by Matthew Inman, an Internet cartoonist who runs the popular blog The Oatmeal.
Inman is a Tesla fan, and launched an online fundraiser site called “Operation Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum,” to a staggering response.
Establishing this museum would mean a lot to Long Island, and apparently, as much to the Tesla fans around the world who are contributing. It’s a wonderful show of appreciation for a genius who has been ignored too long.