Mark Twain inside the laboratory of Nikola Tesla in 1894

    Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla became close and long term friends.

    Their friendship made them spent much time together including much time in Tesla’s laboratory.  Twain was fascinated with science and scientific inquiry.


    Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist.  He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “The Great American Novel”.

    Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.  After an apprenticeship with a printer, Twain worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to the newspaper of his older brother, Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada.  He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.  In 1865, his humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, was published, based on a story he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner.  The short story brought international attention, and was even translated into classic Greek.  His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

    Though Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he invested in ventures that lost a great deal of money, notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter, which failed because of its complexity and imprecision.  In the wake of these financial setbacks, he filed for protection from his creditors via bankruptcy, and with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers eventually overcame his financial troubles.  Twain chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, though he had no legal responsibility to do so.

    Twain was born shortly after a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it”, too. He died the day after the comet returned.  He was lauded as the “greatest American humorist of his age”, and William Faulkner called Twain “the father of American literature”.


    Nikola Tesla (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Тесла; 10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current(AC) electricity supply system.

    Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before emigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City.  He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices.  His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla for a short time as a consultant. His work in the formative years of electric power development was involved in a corporate alternating current/direct current “War of Currents” as well as various patent battles.

    Tesla went on to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs, and made early (1893) pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. He tried to put these ideas to practical use in an ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission, his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project.  In his lab he also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.

    Tesla was renowned for his achievements and showmanship, eventually earning him a reputation in popular culture as an archetypal “mad scientist”.  His patents earned him a considerable amount of money, much of which was used to finance his own projects with varying degrees of success.  He lived most of his life in a series of New York hotels, through his retirement.  Tesla died on 7 January 1943.  His work fell into relative obscurity after his death, but in 1960 the General Conference on Weights and Measures named theSI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor.  There has been a resurgence in popular interest in Tesla since the 1990s.

     

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