Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

The Talks at Google podcast - where great minds meet.

Talks at Google brings the world’s most influential thinkers, creators, makers, and doers all to one place. Every episode is taken from a video that can be seen at YouTube.com/TalksAtGoogle.

Jul 29, 2022

Nikola Tesla invented the radio, robots, and the remote control. His electric induction motors run our appliances and factories, and yet he has been often overlooked by history. In "Tesla: Inventor of the Modern", Richard Munson presents a comprehensive portrait of this farsighted and underappreciated mastermind.

When Tesla’s first breakthrough―alternating current, the basis of our electric grid―pitted him against Thomas Edison’s direct-current empire, Tesla’s superior technology prevailed. Unfortunately, he had little business sense and could not capitalize on this success. His most advanced ideas went unrecognized for decades: forty years in the case of the radio patent, longer still for his ideas on laser beam technology. Although penniless during his later years, he never stopped imagining. In the early 1900s, he designed plans for cell phones, the Internet, death-ray weapons, and interstellar communications. His ideas have lived on to shape the modern economy.

So who was this genius? Drawing on letters, technical notebooks, and other primary sources, author Richard Munson pieces together the magnificently bizarre personal life and mental habits of the enigmatic inventor. Born during a lightning storm at midnight, Tesla died alone in a New York City hotel. He was an acute germaphobe who never shook hands and required nine napkins when he sat down to dinner. Strikingly handsome and impeccably dressed, he spoke eight languages and could recite entire books from memory. Yet Tesla’s most famous inventions were not the product of fastidiousness or linear thought, but of a mind fueled by both the humanities and sciences: he conceived the induction motor while walking through a park and reciting Goethe’s Faust.

Tesla worked tirelessly to offer electric power to the world, to introduce automatons that would reduce life’s drudgery, and to develop machines that might one day abolish war. His story is a reminder that technology can transcend the marketplace and that profit is not the only motivation for invention.

Originally published in February of 2018.

Visit http://g.co/TalksAtGoogle/Tesla to watch the video.