Category Archives: Historical Bad@$$

Historical Bad@$$: Nikola Tesla

Yes, Tesla. The Serbian-American inventor who worked for Thomas Edison, who was obsessed with the number 3 and died broke trying to tend for an imaginary pigeon that shot lasers from its eyes (the term laser hadn’t been invented yet though). He has an SI unit named after him (the tesla, represented by the symbol T, is a measure of the strength of a magnetic field), and his inventions include no less than:

  • Alternating Current (AC, still in use today)
  • The light bulb (namely the fluorescent lamp, still in use today) and neon lighting
  • Radio (Tesla let Marconi, the person credited with radio, use 17 of his, Tesla’s, patents)
  • Radio (invented 18 years before the person credited with its invention)
  • X-ray photography (Tesla x-rayed his own hand as a test, and he knew of the dangerous effects of x-rays)
  • The remote control
  • The electric motor
  • Wireless communications

He also:

  • Had the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls built
  • Experimented in cryogenics
  • Held patents for the predecessors of transistors (used in computers)
  • Sent the first radio transmissions into space
  • Determined the resonant frequency of the Earth
  • Almost destroyed a New York suburb using a resonance machine (also known as an earthquake machine)
  • Reproduced ball lightning in his laboratory (a feat not attained since)

Finally, Wardenclyffe.

Remember the Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant? Yeah, that was built to help provide cheap electricity to the Wardenclyffe Laboratory which would, get this, electrify the Earths atmosphere, providing free electricity to everyone. Unfortunately, the Wardenclyffe tower, from which electricity would be broadcasted, was destroyed in 1917. In October 2012 a crowd-funded project collected $1.37 million, plus a $850,000 grant from the state of New York, to build a museum to Nikola Tesla on the old Wardenclyffe grounds.

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From the Archives: Historical Bad@$$es: The Moonwalkers (August 25)

In memoriam of the first moonwalker, Neil Armstrong, today’s fun fact is about the moonwalkers:

Nine manned missions to the moon have taken place since 1968 when the Apollo 8 mission was launched, and all have been undertaken by the United

States. Of those missions (Apollo 8, 10-17), six (Apollo 11, 12, 14-17) landed on the moon. The following is the list of people who have been to the moon (meaning they have at least been in orbit around the moon), in order of date orbited, then rank for mission. Those marked with an asterisk (*) walked on the moon during the indicated mission, those marked with a caret (^) are appearing on the list for a second time.
Apollo 8: Commander Frank Borman II
Command Module Pilot James Lovell Jr.
Lunar Module Pilot William Anders
Apollo 9: Commander James McDivitt
Command Module Pilot David Scott
Lunar Module Pilot Russell “Rusty” Schweickart
Apollo 10: Commander Thomas Stafford
Command Module Pilot John Young
Lunar Module Pilot Eugene Cernan
Apollo 11: Commander Neil Armstrong*
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.*
Apollo 12: Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr.*
Command Module Pilot Richard Gordon Jr.
Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean*
Apollo 13: Commander James Lovell Jr.^
Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly II
Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise Jr.
Apollo 14: Commander Alan Shepard Jr.*
Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa
Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell*
Apollo 15: Commander David Scott*
Command Module Pilot Alfred Worden
Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin*
Apollo 16: Commander John Young^*
Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly II
Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke Jr.*
Apollo 17: Commander Eugene Cernan^*
Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans
Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt*

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Historical Bad@$$: George de Hevesy

George Charles de Hevesy was a 20th century chemist born in 1885 into a Hungarian Jewish family. During his life he became an acquaintance of Neils Bohr and worked in Ernest Rutherford’s laboratory. Along with the Dutch physicist Dirk Coster, de Hevesy discovered hafnium, and developed a method for the use of plutonium-212 as a chemical tracer, allowing chemists and biologists to follow chemical and biological processes as they happened. de Hevesy won the 1943 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on radioactive tracers. But this is the most bad@$$ part, in WWII de Hevesy took the Nobel Prizes of James Franck (a German Jewish physicist) and Max von Laue (an opponent of the Nazi party), and hid them in the Niels Bohr Institute Laboratory where he worked, so that they wouldn’t be taken by Nazi German forces…and he dissolved both solid gold medals in aqua regia (one of the few acids that can dissolve gold). After the war, de Hevesy precipitated the gold back out from the acid and returned the gold to the Nobel Society to have the medals recast.

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Historical Bad@$$: Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart¬†VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO was a highly decorated British military officer of Belgian and Irish heritage. Sir de Wiart was a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), a Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) and a Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG). A veteran of the Boer War, World War I and World War II. Over the course of his military career he was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, lost his left hand in 1915. During World War II a plane he was on crashed into the water about one mile off of the coast of Italian Libya, and Sir de Wiart and the rest of the plane’s crew swam the mile to shore were they were promptly captured. After seven months of tunneling during his time in the Italian POW camp, he escaped and spent a week disguised as an Italian peasant and then after was involved in the Italian surrender negotiations. After WWII, Sir de Wiart was the British Prime Minister’s personal representative to Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek. Sir de Wiart died in June 1963 at the age of 83.

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