In 2012 cartoonist Matthew Inman, creator of the popular web comic The Oatmeal, started an Indiegogo campaign to purchase the property that contained the former laboratory of famed scientist Nikola Tesla. Inman had written about Tesla before and when the property in Shoreham, New York, went up for sale he decided to secure the property before it was acquired in order to erect a series of stores and chain restaurants. Inman raised over $1.3 million in order to purchase the property and intended to build a museum all about Tesla. A problem arose however, when it became apparent that the extensive renovations and construction necessary would cost several million dollars.
Earlier this year Inman published a humorous and overwhelmingly positive review of his Tesla Model S car on The Oatmeal. At the end of his article/comic he asked Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, for all $8 million necessary to complete the museum. Tesla Motors is so named because its cars use an AC motor originally invented and patented by Nikola Tesla himself, arguably one of the world’s most under-appreciated inventors. Tesla is responsible for many more inventions, but perhaps his most notable scientific advances were related to AC power, opposed to Thomas Edison’s DC power. Tesla attempted to build a tower on the Shoreham grounds that would bring wireless electricity to the world. Unfortunately Tesla ran out of funding before he could complete that project.
Inman feels that Tesla’s groundbreaking work should receive greater recognition and it would seem that Elon Musk agrees with this sentiment. The modern-day inventor and business mogul will be donating $1 million to the Nikola Tesla museum and building a Tesla Motors Supercharger station in the museum’s parking lot as well. The Superchargers are charging stations for cars produced by Tesla motors that are placed about halfway between most of the major cities in America. The station will likely help attract Tesla drivers to the Tesla museum as well as provide a symbol of Musk and Tesla Motors’ appreciation of the man who is ultimately responsible for their success and industry changing product.
Appropriately enough news of Musk’s help came on the day that Nikola Tesla would turn 158. Inman still has a long way to go, but with the public support of a man like Elon Musk other backers likely will not be far behind. The Oatmeal is a very popular web comic and Nikola Tesla is a popular hero within internet culture so despite Inman saying he would not return to Indiegogo for this next round of funding he may well turn to the web in some capacity for the remaining $7 million. Old factory buildings must be taken down and cleared of any dated, toxic construction materials before real construction on the museum itself can even begin. Inman began the project in 2012 and in two years has made significant progress. In another two years perhaps fans of science and learning will be able to walk in to the Nikola Tesla museum in Shoreham, New York and experience how Tesla’s work in the past is still affecting their future.
By Matt Isaacs