Edison and Westinghouse battle over lightbulbs and high finance as we return to the trenches of the War of the Currents, and see how the war whittled itself down from fifteen combatants to just two…
My Son, and Stanley, and Me (c. 2013):
Helen Mirren Reads ‘Ulysses’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Tesla’s trip to the Continent would take an emotional and physical toll that he couldn’t have imagined. But he nevertheless returned from Europe with the big idea that would dominate the rest of his career.
Here’s the neon sign that Tesla had designed in honour of Lord Kelvin (whose real name was William Thomson). Imagine it…in colour 🙂
When his colleagues in the AC field start turning on him, Tesla uses an invitation to lecture in London to reassert his place as the inventor of the AC motor and to dazzle Victorian London with all-new discoveries.
Tesla the Showman knocks ’em dead at the AIEE with a lecture for the ages and a breathtaking demonstration of high frequency AC. It was his ticket to fame and celebrity.
As mentioned in this week’s episode, to get a good visual sense of how Tesla would use the ‘skin effect’ of his oscillating transformer to wow Gilded Age audiences, you need look no further than David Bowie’s portrayal of Nikola Tesla from the Christopher Nolan movie, The Prestige (if you haven’t seen it–seriously, do so right away):
And while there are apparently no photographs of these moments, Tesla would also create a glowing halo of energy around himself at his demonstrations, as illustrated here:
Fresh from his return from Europe, Tesla goes on an inventing spree and dabbles in high-frequency currents. But when George Westinghouse comes calling and pleads poverty, Tesla makes a fateful and costly mistake…
The War of the Currents enters its most ghoulish and macabre phase: when the combatants were willing to play with a man’s life. William Kemmler became the first person put to death by deliberate electrocution. Viewer discretion is very much advised.