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On June 10, Nikola Tesla’s 158th birthday, it was announced that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk had pledged US$1 million to the Nikola Tesla museum that’s being built in Long Island, New York.

The Tesla Science Center will be housed at the inventor’s former research facility, Wardenclyffe, about 85 kilometres from the centre of New York City.

In 2012, Matthew Inman penned “Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived” for his web comic, The Oatmeal. The comic lauded the Serbian American inventor Nikola Tesla as an under-recognised genius, while also decrying his fierce rival Thomas Edison as a “douchebag”.

On the back of that comic’s viral success, Inman launched a crowd funding campaign on IndieGoGo to help the group behind the Tesla Science Center to purchase the Wardenclyffe estate. While the US$1.37 million ($1.46 million) raised in 23 days made buying the site possible, it was estimated that it would take another US$8 million ($8.52 million) to get the museum constructed and functional.

In his comic review of his new Telsa Model S sedan, written in May 2014, Inman implored Tesla CEO Elon Musk to help out with the museum, because, essentially, his company was using the inventor’s name and it was morally right for him to give something back to promote Nikola Tesla’s legacy.

The two talked earlier this week, with Musk pledging US$1 million ($1.06 million) towards the museum, as well as committing to building a Supercharger fast charging station outside the museum.

Generating artificial lightning in Nikola Tesla's laboratory.

Born in 1856 in the Austrian Empire (now part of modern-day Croatia), Tesla moved to the US in 1884.

During his lifetime, Tesla designed the alternating current system of delivering electricity from power plants to the home, invented radio communication and built a hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls, amongst many other endeavours. Despite all that, though, he died practically penniless in a New York hotel in 1943.

He did, however, eventually have the SI unit for magnetic field strength named after him, as well as a successful startup electric car company.




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