Nikola Tesla is arguably the most successful person who has ever had a pigeon as a lover. Yes, Tesla had a bizarre final few years that make any history of the man a little problematic in places, despite a reasonably promising early career cranking forth innovations that would transform our lives. Specifically, the chapters where the author is required to emphasize that “see, he wasn’t having sex with the pigeon, even though he did claim he loved it “like a man loves a woman,” OK?” Another way he went off the tracks in his later years was casually mentioning in conversation that he had built a workable death ray with enough power to put an end to all conflicts.
Were it anyone else, people probably wouldn’t have taken it very seriously, but it was Tesla, of Tesla Coil renown, so ignoring it would be like dismissing a bomb warning from some person called Mr H Bomb. Tesla stated that he had not only invented the gadget, which he said shot particle beams at aircraft or missiles or whatever you wanted dead, but that he had a functioning prototype. He didn’t just tell this to folks at scientific news conferences; he also told it to hotel managers who were simply trying to get him checked in.
Tesla, who had fallen on hard times, was having trouble finding places to reside in his final years. He offered to leave collateral, which he claimed was a fully functional death ray, to at least one hotel, the Governor Clinton Hotel, to whom he owed $20,000. Should he be unable to pay the bill at checkout, the hotel would simply be able to grab the death ray and sell it, provided they came across a lot of arms dealers in the hotel service industry. Or, if they’re a bit more inventive, use it to take out their rivals at Travelodge.
He stayed at the New Yorker Hotel for the last ten years of his life, and they knew he was broke. However, he had also offered the hotel his precious death ray, which they had accepted. Naturally, he gave them some fairly strict instructions on how to handle it. You don’t just hand over a nuclear bomb and say, “Press the button, don’t press the button, I don’t care,” because they might think you’ve given them something else.
To begin with, he barred them from ever opening the box, which looked odd at first, but who questions a man who carries a death ray? Tesla died in his hotel room on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86, leaving behind his beloved pigeon (with whom, due to Tesla’s excessively vague claims, I must emphasize that he was not having intimate relations).
As a result, the hotel was left with a large unpaid bill and no way of recovering it. Except for the Bond villain contraption he’d left in their safe, of course. They carefully opened the package and discovered… a box with a few knobs and some seemingly regular wires inside. Don’t get me wrong: you could still use it to smash someone to death, but it wasn’t the priceless killing machine Tesla had promised.