Current trend: why Nikola Tesla was the coolest scientist

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Current trend: why Nikola Tesla was the coolest scientist

The eccentric inventor revered by Elon Musk and rock bands had a quality no scientific instrument can measure

Tristram Fane Saunders

There’s a scene in the new film The Current War where we find Nikola Tesla at his lowest ebb. It’s 1886, and the inventor’s Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing company has dropped both his name and the man himself, leaving him penniless.

In a contemptuous southern drawl, one investor tells him: “Ain’t never gonna be anything named ‘Tesla’ ever again.” At an early screening, the line prompted a few laughs.

From Elon Musk’s $30bn electric car business to the US rock band Tesla (15 million albums sold), the eccentric Serbian inventor continues to cast a long shadow...

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