October 22, 2013

"My favorite scientist? No question, it’s Tesla. Tesla is for the win. Simple as that, my man."

"He’s win and Edison is fail. If Edison was around today, I’d kick him in the dick. I hate Thomas Edison and love Tesla because of some insanely freaking epic webcomics I’ve read, where he’s riding a dinosaur and just doing altogether random shit. Tesla much? He’s epic as hell, which, by the way, is where Edison is. Or he would be, if hell was a real place, which it’s not. That reminds me, you see that image macro about how stupid those failshit Christians are? Bacon for the win...."

Getting sharp and sophisticated from the internet, as dramatized by Boring as Heck.

Via Metafilter, where the comments start out with the dumbness of people who didn't read it, which is another internet thing that's fucking awesome, especially when someone finally nudges them that it's satire and then that guy gets 13 "favorites."

We're all going to be just fine....

(Adding tags to this post, I discover that I have at "Tesla" tag but no "Edison" tag, because that's what the internet does to you. And, in fact, I have a "bacon" tag.)

57 comments:

Peter said...

Neither Tesla nor Edison were scientists; they were inventor-entrepreneurs.

There's no doubt that Tesla was the greater showman. Then again, Edison brought much of the modern world into being.

Which is fucking awesome.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I dislike these comparisons. Tesla has a cult--Edison did not. Why is that?

Dr.D said...

I think there is a Tesla illusion going about. Tesla did some interesting things, but we have yet to realize a practical way to utilize most of his work. Edison, on the other hand, devised many things we use every day at this time. One was a great commercial success, the other is just more image and folk lore.

Can anyone name any everyday device that we use today that is attributed to Tesla? I cannot.

So much for the illusion.

Alan said...

AC power was Tesla. You really don't get any bigger than that.

Big Mike said...

And, in fact, I have a "bacon" tag.

Hang around Glenn Reynolds long enough and it's inevitable.

Can anyone name any everyday device that we use today that is attributed to Tesla? I cannot.

Try the alternating current induction motor. It's in your kitchen fan, vacuum cleaner, just about anything that takes our 110 volt AC current and spins. And he made important contributions to the practical transmission of AC power to residences and businesses.

AC has the nice feature that it can be efficiently across transmitted long distances. Left up to Edison we'd have had to have a DC power station roughly every five to ten miles.

Joe said...

Tesla is very overrated. His cult makes increasingly wild claims about his accomplishments while completely ignoring his failures and that he was genuinely crazy.

The common mistake made is to attribute inventions to him because he had a general idea that resembles the modern invention. Nevermind that he either had no idea how to pull it off or once you look close, his ideas were completely and utterly wrong. (You see the phenomenon with science fiction writers. There is a difference between presenting an idea or concept and actually inventing and/or developing it. Kind of like, well, Obamacare.)

Dr.D said...

It is certainly true that Edison was promoting DC power, but it was Westinghouse that promoted and commercialized AC power.

Tesla, not so much. Tesla worked on electromagnetic induction, but his ideas were not commercially feasible in his day. Do we have a Tesla Electric Corp today? No, we have Westinghouse Electric Corp instead. Edison's baby turned into G.E. But no Tesla Corp.

chrisnavin.com said...

Perhaps this is as much about romanticizing and mythologizing 'scientists' in the popular mind.

MadisonMan said...

Rooting for the underdog. It's the American way. That's why Tesla has a cultish following.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Apparently, the vaunted Tesla had some competition as this timeline shows.

Big Mike said...

... but it was Westinghouse that promoted and commercialized AC power.

Using Tesla's patents.

Sam L. said...

I heartily concur with the blog's title, Boring As Heck.

El Pollo Raylan said...

The more I read of Tesla, the more he seems like a Bill Shockley prototype.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Big Mike said: "AC has the nice feature that it can be efficiently across transmitted long distances. Left up to Edison we'd have had to have a DC power station roughly every five to ten miles."

Hmm. My recollection is that most (US) high power (250 KVA and up) transmission is DC. E.g. the Pacific Intertie, at +- 500 KVDC, 3.1 Gigiwatts.

madAsHell said...

It was George Westinghouse with AC, and Tom Edison with DC. They were competing to deploy their electrical distribution equipment. I'm not aware of Tesla participating in this competition.

William said...

I think both Edison and Tesla invented things that were a great boon to mankind. If either had stabbed his wife three times or raped a twelve year old, I don't think they would have escaped prison time or the censure of their peers.

SteveR said...

Apparently saying "fuck" makes stupid stuff funny. Good to know. The more fucks the funnier.

rhhardin said...

If Tesla had worked a little longer, he might have come up with the compact fluorescent bulb.

BarrySanders20 said...

So yesterday the light above the kitchen island goes out and I can't find any 100 watt bulbs, the kind mama prefers, to replace it. I send the boy on a walk to the hardware store to pick up some 100watt light bulbs. He comes back with 60 watt bulbs and says the guy told him the store was not allowed to sell anything higher than 60 watts.

I think, "For fuck's sake!" and proceed to explain how intrusive governemnt works. Mama comes home and I explain to her why her kitchen looks dim and gloomy. She is shocked -- shocked!-- that her past voting choices have resulted in a dim kitchen. Dim wits = dim kitchen.

But I don't belabor the point and continue making a delicious recipe I saw over on the Things Wot I Made Then Ate (the trout salad -- yum, it was a hit) because I thought a work-around would be the Althouse portal to the marketplace of the world.

So I link up today and buy 48 GE Reveal 100 watt incandescent bulbs to be delivered to my home and secreted away for future illicit lighting of the family home.

The 60 watt bulbs are going back in disgust.

Edison lives!

Freeman Hunt said...

If you have a Facebook account, the linked blog post should make you laugh out loud several times. It is so piercingly accurate that I'm afraid to link it on Facebook for fear many people would experience it as a virtual slap in the face.

tim maguire said...

Tesla was the visionary, Edison the businessman.

Edison did more to light our cities and power the world. But Tesla was cooler, the mad scientist who wanted to electrify the earth so you'd never have a power bill. Tesla mostly failed because he was too far ahead of his time and utterly impractical.

Freeman Hunt said...

People here aren't reading the link either.

Dr.D said...

There is a good reason why folks are not reading the link. The author is unable to express himself other than to utter an incoherent string of vulgarities. Most of us have better things, actually, MUCH BETTER THINGS, to do with our time than read such infantile trash jibberish.

Althouse, what were you thinking when you posted this trash?

Freeman Hunt said...

So, you didn't read it then....

Freeman Hunt said...

All might be revealed, if only...

Dr.D said...

@ Freeman,

Yes, I read several paragraphs, more than enough to fully justify my comment. If someone has something worthwhile to say, they are extremely foolish to cloak it with vulgar nonsense. Exceedingly few intelligent people have time for such.

Freeman Hunt said...

What if the author of that post agreed with you?

Mike said...

Another Tesla invention was sending information via radio waves, on which the radio and television industries were founded. Given the ubiquity of WiFi and broadcast media, I'd posit that Tesla's invention (not Marconi's) of radio and a/c power* are definitely everyday items. If you want another example take a look at any electrified bug zapper. That is a miniaturized version of a Tesla Coil. Big versions of it are used regularly in SciFi films.

*Tesla developed the concept of alternating current and partenred with Westinghouse to prove its worth on the Niagra Power Station, if I recall correctly. Sorry I'm not validating that fact but this is work time!

Dr.D said...

@ Freeman,

Agreement or disagreement is of no consequence. I am more than happy to listen to a GOOD argument eithe3r way on an issue, but not trash. I have no time or desire to clutter my life with vulgar nonsense. (By the way, agreement is unlikely; I try very hare not to speak nonsense.)

Mike said...

http://edisontechcenter.org/AC-PowerHistory.html

The timeline is crowded with many inventors NOT named Edison or Tesla at the link above. Curiosity got the better of me. Westinghouse used someone else's patent in Niagra, not Tesla's. Interesting site, far more interesting than the Boring as Hell guy..

Freeman Hunt said...

Nudge, nudge, nnnnuuuudge, NUDGE!

Dr.D said...

By the kind of "reasoning" we are seeing from some here, it is safe to assume that some ancient Greek (a student of Pythagoras, no doubt) had quantum mechanics and relativity figured out. He was just ahead of his time, and nobody cared. It is virtually a sure thing.

Sigivald said...

Barry: Time to double up on fixtures.

Two 60s are even brighter than one 100 ... and you should mail Al Gore a picture of it.

There's little Government can ruin that someone can't fix, just less efficiently than before the ruining.

Freeman Hunt said...

Things on which Dr.D and the writer of the linked blog post agree:

I think there is a Tesla illusion going about.

If someone has something worthwhile to say, they are extremely foolish to cloak it with vulgar nonsense.

El Pollo Raylan said...

OT, but my favorite underrated scientist of all time is Frederick Soddy.

Soddy co-discovered the natural transmutation of the elements, explained isotopes (a personal favorite), warned about atomic weapons in World War I, became an economist, and dabbled in poetry. The Swedes recognized him as did H.G. Welles, but he's otherwise largely forgotten.

SOJO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr.D said...

Getting all fired up about Tesla is about like saying that Hero invented the steam turbine (1st century, B.C.). It wae not until Parsons in the 1890s did something with it that it became a useful item.

Freeman says that the blog post writer and I agree on this: "If someone has something worthwhile to say, they are extremely foolish to cloak it with vulgar nonsense."

While I admit that I did not read the full post, somehow, I doubt it. It would be so totally out of character for the blog post writer to say that after writing all that vulgar nonsense.

Coming back to Big Mike's comment, the real advantage of AC is that it is relatively easy to change voltage levels through use of a transformer. This is far more difficult to do with DC.

Freeman Hunt said...

"when someone finally nudges them that it's satire"

Larry Nelson said...

There is an early movie, that I think Edison made, where an elephant is electrocuted with AC power to prove that it was too dangerous to use for electrical power.

Similar to AT&T (or some other TDMA proponent) putting out information in the 1990's that CDMA modulation in wireless communications caused heartpacers etc to fail, but that their TDMA was safe.

Dr.D said...

@ Freeman,

If it is satire, it is still worthless, vulgar, and offensive. Why waste time dirtying up your life with stuff like that? We should be looking for Truth, Goodness, Beauty, and other virtues in our lives. There is more than enough trash, filth, and disgusting stuff in the world without creating any more. What point could there be?

Freeman Hunt said...

He's saying that the popular, vulgar superficiality is bad. He's pointing out its stupidity. He's lampooning it. You're supposed to think that the overabundance of bad words is absurd, that the comments about Tesla are silly, that the over-reliance on flimsy memes is lazy. He agrees with you!

Joe said...

First, Tesla was a liar, often claiming he'd invented something without any proof whatsoever.

Second, he didn't invent radio. Period. If anything, his lack of understanding the physics slowed down the development of radio. As of 1919, Tesla didn't believe radio waves existed! Among other things, Tesla "proposed to signal for long distances by varying the planet's "electrostatic equilibrium". The man's ideas get even crazier from there.

Dr.D said...

@ Freeman,

No, he does not agree with me. Do you see me writing words like that? No, you do not.

You cannot make the point that something is bad by praising it and making extensive use of it. Next, someone (you, Freeman?) will say that OblamaDoesNotCare is a good thing!

Smilin' Jack said...

He’s win and Edison is fail.

Well, duh. In "The Prestige" Tesla is played by David Bowie. Can you see Bowie playing Edison?

And in the movie we also learn that Tesla invented teleportation, which would have been much bigger than the light bulb if Edison hadn't destroyed Tesla's lab before he had a chance to fix that minor bug.

Freeman Hunt said...

Yes, you can. That's the heart of satire. When someone reads, say, Swift, he's in error to think, "Child-eating?! What a nasty person! Only a real hatred for the poor could drive a man to write something like that."

Dr.D said...

@ Freeman,

Well, you can fill your life with filth, vulgarity, ugliness, etc. if you want to. I'm not going that way. There is far too much that is thrust upon us to make any unnecessary additions welcome.

As to Swift, I don't know anything about him/her, so I'll not say anything about that.

Salamandyr said...

Freeman, to be fair, Swift probably did hate the poor. He was a putz.

Salamandyr said...

I thought the essay was funny. But Dr. D is hilarious.

Please, nobody let him in on the joke.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Freeman Hunt said...
If you have a Facebook account, the linked blog post should make you laugh out loud several times.

Not on FaceBook. Is it available elsewhere?

Freeman Hunt said...

I feel like some talking birds and a Red Queen should accost me at any moment.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Dr.D wrote: Can anyone name any everyday device that we use today that is attributed to Tesla? I cannot.

His ideas have caught fire in places like Seattle.

Cedarford said...

It is hard to get bigger than Tesla.
His "madcap pursuits" cannot obscure that he figured out the complete math and engineering behind the AC power system the whole modern world runs on (all of it) - and found the investors that began implimenting it.

AC generation, all the calcs on rotating magnetic fields and stepdown and step-up magnetic transformers, transmission, metering. All the AC motors except variable speed..

NO SCIENTIST OF THE 20th Century directly affected more lives than TESLA. From work in the home transformed by washing machines, AC refrigerators with Tesla motors, AC lighting. To industry. Aviation, modernizing signalling and control every rail system, to the replacement of all belt and steam powered equipment in factories worldwide in 30 years. All from the Tesla Patents. He lived to watch a total new world stemming from his ideas come forth - from 1890 until he died in 1943.

Tesla also built the first radio "system" backed with all the math and eng calcs in use today and the 1st primitive, but functional radar apparatus. Not just send and receive - he made the 1st radio-controlled device. A model boat in 1898 that changed speed and direction by radio signal. But no investors saw value, not even the Navy with torpedos, for making a "remote-constrolled device.)

Marconi made his 1st radio transmission using 14 Tesla radio patents.

August 1917, Tesla first established the math, the principles of frequency and power level for the first primitive radar units. America was not interested, Britain was, and built on it until it became "The Weapon that won WWII and Changed Everything."

Tesla was working X-Rays contemporary with William Roentgen. He credited Roentgen, but added the math and engineering to make X-Rays more powerful and machinery more portable..A great contribution to X-Ray use in medicine and manufacturing, weld testing. Some of the very earliest X-Ray photos were Teslas.

He came up with arc lights, and later, the phosphor tube light.

Tesla was the real deal.
His madcap sidetracks nonwithstanding.



El Pollo Raylan said...

Cedarford exclaimed: NO SCIENTIST OF THE 20th Century directly affected more lives than TESLA.

I'd nominate Fritz Haber for the challenge but since he was Jewish, you wouldn't even recognize him.

Cedarford said...

Most people who know science know Haber. Cheaper fertilizer and explosives through him and fellow scientists like Bosch. (better than 2 other German nitrogen fixing processes then being worked.)
Haber is also known as the Father of poison gas warfare.

Jews like Chickenman, though, cannot stand thinking of celebrating non-Jewish scientists of profound impact like Tesla.
Having to drag a supposedly better and deeper thinking Jew to the table as a "bigger star!".

Haber didn't change the world, just made fertilizer and high explosives and poison gas easier to use.


Joe said...

"...he figured out the complete math and engineering behind the AC power system the whole modern world runs on..."

Absolute, unadulterated bullshit. AC was already known and being worked on. What Tesla invented was the induction motor, though so did Galileo Ferraris. Others understood the same concept of induction and were inventing devices around it. The fact is that AC was pretty well understood and would have been developed without Tesla around.

There is no doubt that Tesla was smart, but very much like Edison, his biggest contributions were turning theory into practical devices. In other words, he was an engineer far more than scientist. What truly annoys me about the cultists is how much other scientists and engineers are denigrated in order to buttress the fame of Tesla.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Haber didn't change the world, just made fertilizer and high explosives and poison gas easier to use.

This belies inexcusable ignorance.

@Joe: Cedarfood has an engineering background and I also believe that he's eastern European in origin and thus perhaps feels dome slavic kinship with Tesla.

MikeinAppalachia said...

Fred Drinkwater-less than 4% of the USA-Canadian EHV grid is DC. That Pacific intertie is tiny compared to the 765 KV AC lines in the midwest and Ontario-Quebec. EHV DC ones require AC-DC converter stations at each end to be useful and are only justified(they're comparatively expensive) when connecting two regions with insufficient reactive generation to support long AC lines. DC may become dominent in EHV underground transmission, but the jury is still out on that.
Joe-C'Ford is pretty much correct Re Tesla's contibutions and impact.