Inventor Nikola Tesla Is Back in Tech Fashion

America sure loves its romantic failures: geniuses who were not properly appreciated in their lifetime. Add Nikola Tesla to the pantheon…

Homage to Tlaloc

Tesla has been rediscovered by technophiles, including Google Inc. co-founder Larry Page, who frequently cites him as an early inspiration. And Teslamania is going increasingly mainstream.

An early hint was “Tesla Girls,” a 1984 single from the British technopop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Performance artist Laurie Anderson has said she was fascinated by Tesla. David Bowie played a fictionalized version of him in the 2006 film “The Prestige,” alongside Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Director Terry Gilliam described Tesla in a recent documentary film as “more of an artist than a scientist in some strange way.”

Tesla, in short, is cool.

“He was a kind of crazy, interesting dude,” says Melody Pfeiffer, spokeswoman for the Dark Void game’s distributor, Capcom Entertainment.

Edison, meanwhile, is less au courant than he used to be, says Paul Israel, director of the Thomas Edison Papers, a scholarly project at Rutgers University, in Piscataway, N.J.

Many significant Edison inventions—including the phonograph and the motion-picture camera—are becoming historical curios. The European Union has banned old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs, another Edison innovation. The EU is urging consumers to replace them with more-efficient fluorescent lights descended from those Tesla favored.

“Edison is so 20th century, much like Henry Ford,” says Bernie Carlson, a professor of Science, Technology and Society at the University of Virginia.

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Edison is the curmudgeon in this passion play, the Bill Gates figure, crushing the spirit and finances of all who opposed him.

side note, the new electric super sports car, made by Tesla Motors, is still scheduled to open a few blocks from me. I saw their sign on the door, but the showroom isn’t open yet.

Then there is Dark Void:

“Dark Void” (Capcom)

The game’s story will center around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who crashes in the Bermuda Triangle. From there, he is teleported to a parallel universe where he encounters other humans, called Survivors. Together, Will and the survivors must battle an alien race known as the Watchers to return to Earth. The Watchers came from afar, making humans do their bidding, while being treated as gods. Eventually people known as Adepts emerged and banished the Watchers to the realm in which our pilot is trapped. With the help of Nikola Tesla, they retrofit Watcher technology to fight the Watchers.

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