Tesla's Biggest Fan
Wagner says so far Nikko, Superboy Inventor and Nikko and Macak, the Electrical Cat have sold about 400 copies. "It's a charitable thing to keep me going. My last students in 1993 asked me to carry on the campaign to give proper recognition that no one can dispute."
He does, in ways large and small. "Right now I'm answering a letter from a seventh-grader in Minnesota working on a history project. She saw my web page and wanted to know more."
One reason for Tesla's obscurity may be that after his world-changing invention, he promoted other projects that never bore fruit, including wireless power transmission and even a death ray. But he isn't exactly unknown. A former Ford engineer and a current engineering student both know his work.
"We don't talk a lot about him [in the department]," the student says, "but there's a growing nerd underground that's reasonably well informed." If smart is the new sexy, Tesla's day could yet come.
[Originally published in May, 2013.]