To celebrate the 158th birthday of Nikola Tesla, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, donated $1 million dollars toward the creation of a Nikola Tesla Museum at Wardenclyffe, Long Island, New York, where the inventor performed a great deal of his work. That alone is interesting, you might be saying, but what about that makes this worthy of BangShift? Easy. Musk contributed upon the request of a happy owner of one of his Tesla Model S sedans: Matt Inman, better known as the artistic mind behind the popular Web comic “The Oatmeal”.
Here’s the history behind this story: In 2012, Inman ran a comic which proclaimed Tesla as “the greatest geek who ever lived” (which can be seen here) and was inspired to create an Indiegogo fundraiser to save the Wardenclyffe property that Tesla operated on. The fundraiser was an outright success, raising nearly $1.4 million dollars in nine days from donations that came in from the world over. The property was saved, purchased by a non-profit that had been trying to acquire the property for years. As of writing, the site is in a cleanup phase while the laboratories are being examined for safety and leftover equipment. That alone would be a milestone for anyone, but Inman was not done.
Earlier this year, Inman wrote a review of his personal Tesla Model S, that he bought on the advice of a friend (which can be seen here). To put it mildly, Inman is very happy with his Model S. At the end of his review, he took a review of the events surrounding the naming of Tesla Motors, and how Musk came to use Tesla’s name legally on the vehicles (his name, as well as his patents, are public domain now). He made a request via Twitter for Musk to make a rather sizable donation to assist with the Tesla museum after the initial costs were gauged to be nearly $8 million dollars to open the doors.
Musk responded with the million-dollar check and plans to build a Supercharging station next to the museum. The donations that have been collected will go towards the creation of the Tesla Science Center, a museum that will include a “hacker lab” that allows students and visitors to create prototypes and a section where an entrepreneur can turn an idea into a real product.
Elon Musk isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for him to personally respond as graciously as he has to Inman’s requests is well above and beyond expectations and certainly shows his philanthropic side. For Inman to create the initial movement and to carry it as far as he has absolutely personifies the “one person can make a change” attitude that he seems to have, as well as his ability to motivate his fans and followers, which, depending on his mood, can either be a sincerely positive outcome or a tsunami of wrath. To spur on followers to act in the name of learning and science, well, that’s probably the best thing to come out of Internet activism in quite some time.
Matt, we applaud your work, and look forward to the opening of the Tesla Museum. Just someone, anyone, do us one favor, please? A good portion of Tesla’s work focused on power and energy, and his legend, at least to us lay people, is of a man who knew how to harness and utilize power in ways that seemed to defy the normal convention of the times. If only once, let that power loose in the parking lot on opening day. As Tesla said himself, “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success…such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”