“Nikola Tesla” has passed away, again as David Bowie

Review by James Maina


David Bowie

The whole world is sad about the passing on of a famous musician in 2016. David Robert Jones, known as David Bowie, was an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter and actor.

David Bowie as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige, 2006

What is less known is that he introduced another great scientist  – Nikola Tesla –  to the world’s movie going modern audiences through the highly successful 2006 film The Prestige.

In the movie The Prestige, David Bowie portrayed the character of the late Nikola Tesla. Many of his inventions are featured in the film such as his Tesla Coil. There is a scene in which a field of light bulbs light up without wires. This actually happened in real life. Tesla lit the bulbs using a generator that was 20 kilometers away!!!

So who was Nicola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla was an electrical engineer, inventor and one of the most outstanding physicists in the history of science. But beyond his brilliant work, some aspects of his life remain unspoken in the pages of history.

Here are some interesting fun facts about Tesla

1. He Was Born During a Lightning Storm
Nikola Tesla was born approximately at midnight, between July 9 and July 10, 1856, during a lightning storm. During Tesla birth, and according to the story told by his family, the midwife wrung her hands and declared the lightning a bad omen. “This child will be a child of darkness”, she reportedly said, to which Tesla’s mother replied: “No. He will be a child of light.”


After seeing the movie The Prestige, you will be pleasantly shocked to find out that some of the special effects during the scene with Nicola Tesla actually happened in real life. Above pictured is David Bowie acting as Tesla.

2. He worked for Thomas Edison, greatest inventor of all time
Early in his career, Tesla worked for Edison, designing direct current generators, but famously quit to pursue his own project: the alternating current induction motor. Sure, they were on different sides of the so-called “Current Wars,” with Edison pushing for direct current and Tesla for alternating current. But Carlson considers them the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of their time: one the brilliant marketer and businessman, and the other a visionary and “tech guy.”

In The Prestige, one of the magicians starts out as an apprentice to a great actor, and yet believes himself to be greater. In real life, the above light bulbs were lit and powered wirelessly by a generator 20 kilometers away by Tesla.



3. He created lightning

Tesla’s Colorado Springs tests were well remembered by local residents. With a 200-foot pole topped by a large copper sphere rising above his laboratory he generated potentials that discharged lightning bolts up to 135 feet long. Thunder from the released energy could be heard 15 miles away in Cripple Creek. People walking along the streets were amazed to see sparks jumping between their feet and the ground, and flames of electricity would spring from a tap when anyone turned them on for a drink of water. Light bulbs within 100-feet of the experimental tower glowed when they were turned off. Horses at the livery stable received shocks through their metal shoes and bolted from the stalls. Even insects were affected: butterflies became electrified and “helplessly swirled in circles — their wings spouting blue halos of ‘St. Elmo’s Fire.’”

In The Prestige, we see lightning tricks that shock the mind. Pictured above center is David Bowie as Tesla showing his wireless electric light bulb.

4. He craved to be the best inventor – publicly

His rivalry with Marconi (inventor of radar) and Thomas Edison (inventor of light bulb) was legendary. His experiments were meant to change everything, and the only way to get the word out was through the press.

In The Prestige we have two magicians with a rivalry to perform the greatest magic trick in the world. And both go to extreme ends to achieve their wild ambitions. One of them wins, and yet this story is so much like the Tesla and Edison rivalry.

5. The worlds most popular Electric car is named after him

As a sign of that growing appreciation, Elon Musk’s start-up electric car company Tesla Motors was named after the visionary inventor in 2003. The Tesla Model S hit 100,000 deliveries and no other electric car has hit such a milestone to date.


Electric car – Tesla Model S – Tesla Motor Company


“He taught us that when you believe in yourself, work on your goals, and follow through, a lot is possible,” – Alcorn


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