What is it about Nikola Tesla that inspires engineers around the world?
The slights he suffered at the hands of his close-minded, condescending boss, Thomas Edison, who refused to see the potential of alternating current? The breathtaking scope of his altruism, as evidenced by his decision to tear-up his patent agreement on AC current to save his employer, George Westinghouse, from financial ruin? (A decision which in all likelihood prevented him from becoming the world's first billionaire.) His pride, which led him to work as a ditch digger rather than suffer the continuing insults of his employer? His sheer brilliance, evidenced by his epiphany while walking in the park in Budapest that an induction motor could be designed based on rotating magnetic fields? Or the fact that schoolchildren continue to memorize facts about Thomas Edison while educators routinely ignore Tesla?
While I applaud Elon Musk's naming his company in honor of the great inventor, I think this further obscures Nikola Tesla in popular culture. He should occupy the same place in the scientific pantheon as Albert Einstein. His pride, altruism, the scope of his genius, and the fact that he spent so much of his early career trying to convince people less clever than himself what should be done all mark him as a real engineer's engineer. If Tesla were alive today, he would be reading Dilbert comics and smiling at the pointy-headed boss.
What do you think? Is Nikola Tesla science's greatest unsung hero?