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The Almighty Buck Science

$900,000 Raised For Buying Tesla's Lab 123

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mad-scientists-at-work dept.
icebraining writes "As Slashdot reported earlier, The Oatmeal's Matthew Inman launched a funding campaign to help the Tesla Science Center, a 503(c) non-profit, buy the place of Tesla's final laboratory, the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, New York. Well, thanks to 21511 contributors, it has already raised $912,080, well above the original $850,000 goal. But it's not too late to help: any money raised above the goal will be used by the organization to build a museum dedicated to Tesla."
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$900,000 Raised For Buying Tesla's Lab

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  • by BMOC (2478408) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:33PM (#41082549)
    I would expect this endeavor to generate some electricity and buzz.
    • by slick7 (1703596)

      I would expect this endeavor to generate some electricity and buzz.

      I wonder how much Tesla would be worth today, at $1 per horsepower.

  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:35PM (#41082585)
    I totally love the idea of preserving this site.

    Think they'll sell working copies of those nifty steampunk stun guns in the gift shop?
  • Error in summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by FalconZero (607567) <FalconZero AT Gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:37PM (#41082629)
    A small error, but the original goal was $850,000 - which is slightly important, as it was the required goal to attain matched funding from local government.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, that was the max matching that the local government would provide. The local government offered to match any amount raised up to that amount.

    • Re:Error in summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by WillgasM (1646719) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:59PM (#41082937) Homepage
      Actually, they said they would match anything up to $850k. They'll probably be able to get the property for much cheaper since they're able to pay cash. The Current $1.6m bid that they wanted to beat was apparently financed. With some luck, they should already have some funds leftover to start the museum.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So that we can travel back in time and build a Tesla museum in 1917 Shoreham, New York!

  • by belgianguy (1954708) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:40PM (#41082669)
    While I'm aware that'll probably be the last of their worries, it would complete the location and make it more 'monumental'.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by nido (102070)

      The heirs to JP Morgan's energy industry would NOT be very happy about the revival of Tesla's vision of free wireless power for all.

      Remember that JP Morgan pulled his funding when Tesla didn't know how to incorporate an electric meter into his system for extracting energy from the aether ("higgs field" is the latest term, I think).

      • by belgianguy (1954708) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:12PM (#41083119)
        Oh I know, there's probably a whole slew of objections against reinstating the tower with all its original functionality. Not being able to meter it would be one of the least worrisome IMO. While it would be uber-cool, it's probably not possible as the location itself is turning into a museum, not a 'bleeding-edge' lab and it therefore can't be doing dangerous experiments. Not to speak of building code violations, possible negative effects on nearby (modern) electric equipment, additional effects on local fauna/flora etc.

        I'd be very happy already if they could rebuild the tower in looks only, as it looks so otherworldly and adds some uniqueness to the location. Furthermore it'd be visible from pretty far away, giving Tesla that visibility and validation that he had to miss out on for so long.
      • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:14PM (#41083145) Homepage
        Basic physics says you can't extract that much energy from electromagnetic fields like that. Most fields diminish with an inverse square law (although magnetic fields actually diminish with an inverse cube for complicated reasons).

        Remember that JP Morgan pulled his funding when Tesla didn't know how to incorporate an electric meter into his system for extracting energy from the aether ("higgs field" is the latest term, I think).

        Ok. First, the notion of an aether was a ubiquitous substance necessary to explain among other things how electromagnetic waves traveled http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminiferous_aether [wikipedia.org]. There was in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the reasonable but ultimately incorrect beliefs that waves required a medium to travel through. Since the main waves people were used to all obeyed that, it seemed reasonable. 20th century physics (especially Einstein's work) removed most of the reasons for thinking one would need an ether. Second, the Higgs field http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_field [wikipedia.org] has nothing to do with this but is, very roughly speaking, an attempt to explain where the mass of elementary particles comes from. There's no way Tesla would have known anything about it. He had neither the math nor the particle physics knowledge to even guess at such a thing. You are essentially combining a variety of different ideas together that have little to do with each other.

        • by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:56PM (#41083787)

          Ah, but Sir, you besmirch the name of Tesla!
          Blasphemy!
          Faithful followers of Father Tesla will not be pleased.

        • by nurb432 (527695)

          There's no way Tesla would have known anything about it. He had neither the math nor the particle physics knowledge to even guess at such a thing. You are essentially combining a variety of different ideas together that have little to do with each other.

          It was Tesla, of course he knew.

    • Just one problem that I can see. It'd turn into some neglected eyesore after many years, requiring more money to either refurbish or tear down again.. What about using hologram tech to re-create the tower, or is something like that too intricate and complicated to do?
  • by adisakp (705706) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:44PM (#41082725) Journal
    It's probably more than I could easily justify but I figured it was for a good cause and I really wanted one of the limited signed comic books :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, I scaled down and just got the bumper sticker Tesla gt Edison for $33. After all, it is true -- as I teach my intro physics kids in E&M every year. No Tesla, no worldwide distribution of electrical power. And he should have gotten the radio patent (and eventually, long after the fact, sort of did). And he invented a death ray. What's not to like? The perfect model of a mad scientist...

      Edison, on the other hand, came up with a few good things. The phonograph probably tops the list followed b

  • Museum? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tanujt (1909206) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:44PM (#41082727)
    Why not use the extra money to fund some actual research in electrical engineering? I don't think there's a better way to "honor the memory" of a great scientist/engineer.
    • Re:Museum? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:49PM (#41082795)

      I'd rather see them make a museum that's actually awesome. Not just "this is what he did and how he did it". I want Tesla coil demonstrations (the kind he used to do with electricity arcing all around the room). I want "build you own X" areas for kids to build cool things. I want smart, exciting people giving smart, exciting presentations about what engineering and technology makes possible. In short, I want a museum that will inspire some small number of kids to follow in Tesla's footsteps.

      • Insurance companies says NO.
        • Re:Museum? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:04PM (#41082993)

          City Museum in St Louis manages to do a lot of things that you'd think their insurance company would have a heart attack (and I'm sure they get charged an arm and a leg for their coverage). Point being, it's doable if you create the right environment and get the right resources behind you.

      • by belgianguy (1954708) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:01PM (#41082953)
        Tesla was a crazy genius, in that regard I think it would be more fitting to have (at least part) of the museum have live/interactive and interesting things to do and try, rather than just gazing at collectibles and ooh-and-aah-ing at antiquities (how very awesome those still might be). Perhaps a MAKER lab or something or making a bulb glow with wireless electricity, have a Tesla coil play a song on your $MP3_PLAYER. If you read The Oatmeal's Tesla cartoon, you'd already have quite some nice ideas.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:06PM (#41083017)

        Posting anon due to mod points used in this thread.

        I remember it Vividly. They had a massive Tesla coil, and would fire it up with us inside the room. Then they gave us fluorescent striplights to hold, which would light up in our hands, without any wires! To this day I remember the event as the defining moment when I thought Science was awesome! My dad took me there when I was something like 9-10 years old. Loads of his old papers, demonstrations of his experiments, etc... totally awesome. There was also a room where his ashes were kept, but we were not allowed near the urn itself.

        I hope that a corresponding Museum in the US would do for your kids as my visit all those years ago inspired me. Hopefully your insurance companies and health&safety people will not shut this idea down.

        - Ogi_Unixnut

        • The Griffith Observatory in LA has one of the few remaining Tesla-built Tesla coils, and they do a demonstration like that. They used to pass out fluorescent bulbs, but with the proliferation of personal electronics and (more importantly) implanted medical devices they've had to put it in a Faraday cage. They still have both fluorescent and neon lights in the cage so you can see how it works, though.

      • I want Tesla coil demonstrations (the kind he used to do with electricity arcing all around the room). I want "build you own X" areas for kids to build cool things. I want smart, exciting people giving smart, exciting presentations about what engineering and technology makes possible.

        Then you want to hire this guy, Photonicinduction [youtube.com] to work in the museum seriously check out his videos they are great.

      • by Nrrqshrr (1879148)
        And watch as those kids grow into amazing new Teslas... till one of them becomes an Edison and sues the crap out of everyone and everything till he can sue no more.
      • There is a small Telsa Museum of Science that offers demonstrations [teslamuseum.us] of telsa coils and teaches kids about Telsa... I think it may be in Colorado? Hard to find an address there sadly.

        That said your idea is great and I hope the new place does similar things.

        • I read in the last /. Tesla story that the Colorado museum closed several years ago due to lack of funds.
          • I read in the last /. Tesla story that the Colorado museum closed several years ago due to lack of funds.

            That's not the same one - the website mentions there was some other, unrelated group in Colorado Springs that is not them, that was probably the one that closed.

            This one might also be closed - however it still has a website, and the demonstration section mentions a showtime of this year:

            SHOW TIME: March 3rd and 4th 2012

            The contact phone is still working, although only taking messages - I left a message a

          • I got a call back, and the museum is still there and open. It's not just a drop-by kind of museum though, you have to go when they are holding shows... mostly arranged beforehand.

            It sounds interesting though as he has some original Telsa equipment and it sounds like he explains quite a lot of the history.

            It is still in Colorado Springs, he gives out the address when you arrange for a show.

            He is (I think understandably) miffed about the other Telsa effort, and thinks that charlatans abound in the whole area

      • Exactly! We have plenty of proponents of normal, boring science*--we need more proponents of mad science!

        *I know we don't really have enough proponents of science; the ratio of normal to mad is just skewed far too far.
    • Re:Museum? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fiordhraoi (1097731) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:52PM (#41082839)
      Or you make a museum showcasing Tesla and his dedication, make it fun and interesting, and you snag the interest of hundreds of young kids every year, of whom dozens may become researchers themselves.

      As important as dollars are to research, so are minds.

    • Re:Museum? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cachimaster (127194) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:56PM (#41082911)

      Research in electrical engineering in 2050 will be done by kids visiting this museum now and realising how awesome it is.

      • Research in electrical engineering in 2050 will be done by kids visiting this museum now and realising how awesome it is.

        If they can time travel, why not go back and visit the original 1917 lab?

        • by cynyr (703126)

          I find i time travel just fine right now, there are a few catches, only forwards, and only at the same speed time moves..

    • by Xeno man (1614779)
      Because there is no extra money. The 850k is just to buy the land. Well the price tag is 1.6 million with matched funds from the government. Any money raised above that goes towards building the actual museum and restoration of the property.
    • I think it's totally unrelated, but this is awesome timing for this Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tesla/electricity-the-life-story-of-nikola-tesla?ref=card [kickstarter.com] They're making a movie about the life and creations of Tesla.

      If you don't want to donate to the museum it might be nice to donate to that project in the same vein. (I'm not affiliated with this at all and haven't looked in too deeply, just happened across it today)

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      Why not use the extra money to fund some actual research in electrical engineering?

      Please continue your thought; don't leave us hanging.

      Who is this researcher? What is their project? Tell us about it.

      You might have noticed the Oatmeal guy didn't persuade people "Hey, let's spend a lot of money to buy any old lab and make some kind of museum." He was much more specific. That is why the money is flowing.

  • Anonymous donor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cachimaster (127194) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:48PM (#41082783)

    From this article [arstechnica.com] "The fundraiser goal was reached in six days, put over the top by $33,333 from an anonymous donor." ... I wonder who this anonymous donor [twitter.com] may be.

  • Oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:54PM (#41082861)
    Unfortunately, due to a mysterious "bank routing error", all $900,000 was deposited into the accounts of the estate of Thomas Edison.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:08PM (#41083047) Homepage

    That's nice, but it reflects Tesla's work in his "dumb RF" period. Tesla's AC work was great, but his concept of RF was bogus. He thought the ionosphere was a conductive layer. What the Wardencliffe tower was supposed to do was use UV lamps to ionize a path up to the ionosphere so a high voltage could be pushed up to it, like a lightning bolt in reverse. Then, having energized the conductive layer, a receiver in another location far away could pick up the signal, or maybe even power. Tesla wrote this up; there's no mystery about this.

    It would have been spectacular to watch, but useless as a communications system. The ionosphere isn't a big conductive plate in the sky. Also, the way to make radio work is to make better receivers, not more powerful transmitters. When Marconi first sent signals across the Atlantic, his transmit RF power was about 10KW. Tesla was planning to use megawatts on the transmit side, but didn't have anything new on the receive side.

    • Sometimes to find out what works and what doesn't, you actually have to try and end up failing. It doesn't make Tesla stupid, just that he was willing to test a theory that had some potential with the current understanding at the time.

    • A great deal of experimentation involves failure. Learning through trial and error what "doesn't" work until what "does" work is finally learned. An actual working lightbulb filament is a classic example of failure after failure, until...
    • Animats, You need to go back and study your Tesla 101. He already knew it would work due to the experimentation he did at Colorado Springs. Power transmission over tens of miles was demonstrated using Tesla magnifying transmitters and far, far less power than was planned to be broadcast at Wardenclyffe. He determined the resonant frequency of the atmosphere by working out that the electrical interference from lightning discharge grew stronger and weaker with distance from the observer LIKE A WAVEFORM. The
    • That's nice, but it reflects Tesla's work in his "dumb RF" period. Tesla's AC work was great, but his concept of RF was bogus.

      It doesn't matter to the Tesla fanbois - everything he did and everything he touched was pure genius, always and forever, amen. Even the bits that are (to put it kindly) poorly documented, the rumors, the urban legends... If Tesla's name is attached, it's Holy Writ.

      • by cffrost (885375)

        That's nice, but it reflects Tesla's work in his "dumb RF" period. Tesla's AC work was great, but his concept of RF was bogus.

        It doesn't matter to the Tesla fanbois - everything he did and everything he touched was pure genius, always and forever, amen. Even the bits that are (to put it kindly) poorly documented, the rumors, the urban legends... If Tesla's name is attached, it's Holy Writ.

        I think that fanbois who worship a great scientist/engineer are not as lacking in their humanity and as distasteful as fanbois that worship a corporation. For the latter, I have little tolerance for their drivel, and I'm sorry to say that I find it very difficult to sympathize with their condition.

  • It's important. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:09PM (#41083071) Journal

    In my view, building a museum to Tesla is important, so the actual genius, vision and true importance for humankind (Tesla) is highlighted, versus the treachery and deviousness that gets you riches (Edison).

    The way I see it, this museum is not only going to educate people about what Tesla did for us all, how he enabled the modern society of the West, how he made life easier, what kind of thinker and innovator he was. No, for me this museum will also be a big "Fuck you Edison".

  • by THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER (2473494) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:53PM (#41083725)
    Things Tesla invented/discovered that were subsequently stolen by -- and credited to -- mere mortals:
    • 5th-gen iPod
    • Superconductivity
    • LTE, NFC, and Wireles USB
    • Kentucky Fried Chicken
    • V.I.N.C.E.N.T. [jeffbots.com] (but not B.O.B.)
    • Carbon nanotubes
    • the RS-232C interface

    Extend the list by replying!

    • LHC and the Mars Curiosity rover
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Spanx and push up bras

      • by drkim (1559875)

        LHC and the Mars Curiosity rover

        Based on Tesla's "Patent 0,613,809 - Method of and Apparatus for Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vehicle or Vehicles"?
        "New and useful improvements in methods of and apparatus for controlling from a distance; Solution for controlling from a given point the operation of mechanisms; No intermediate wires, cables, or other form of electrical or mechanical connection with the object save the natural media in space; explanation of most practical and effectual method and apparatus; Remote control. "

    • by cffrost (885375)

      Things Tesla invented/discovered that were subsequently stolen by -- and credited to -- mere mortals:

      The incandescent light bulb, Morse code, the Van der Graaf generator, the Zener and laser diodes, Pluto, Plutonium, the Teller-Ulam hydrogen bomb, the Oort cloud, the IBM PCjr, the ATX PSU and form-factor, and the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS).

  • I don't know what they are going to do, but still I donated $25.

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