Happy 165th Birthday!

7 weird facts you didn’t know about Nikola Tesla

Originally Published: 
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July 10 is inventor Nikola Tesla’s birthday. If he were alive today, he’d be celebrating his 165th.

But the closest you’re going to get to the inventor today is riding in the car that bears his name.

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Far before he was anyone’s namesake, Tesla led a life that was eccentric, innovative, a little lonely, and extremely influential to the world of engineering.

Here are 7 facts about Nikola Tesla that you might not know:
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7. He never married

Tesla stayed publicly single his whole life. The reason: he claimed celibacy helped fuel his creativity.

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However, he was popular with women, and may have been romantically involved with a few different ladies at some point. But the details of his love life remain a mystery.

6. He had a weird obsession with pigeons

The closest Tesla got to finding a long-term romantic partner was his friendship with a white pigeon that would visit him regularly.



Right before the bird died, Tesla claimed there was a bright light that shone from her eyes to warn him of her impending passing.

In the weeks and months that followed, the inventor was reportedly heartbroken.

5. He claimed he got radio communication from Mars

In 1901, Tesla excitedly went to the press to spill the details about the alleged transmission he got from something — or someone — on the red planet.



Most scientists, however, didn’t believe it. For all of Tesla’s grand ideas, this is one that got very little recognition from his peers.

4. He rarely slept

Tesla allegedly survived on only a few hours of sleep per night. However, that habit wasn’t without consequence.



When a young Tesla was attending engineering school in Austria, his professors saw that his terrible sleeping habits were destroying him.

He went on to lose his tuition money gambling, drop out of school, and suffer a nervous breakdown.

3. He never won the nobel prize

However, Tesla thought he did. He’d read an erroneous report in the New York Times that he was supposed to share the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with Thomas Edison.


But when the medal went to a different pair of physicists, he was extremely disappointed.

Later on, the American Institute of Electric Engineers awarded Tesla with their highest honor — the Edison Medal.

2. He was an extreme germaphobe

Tesla was meticulously clean, to the point of obsession. It was a stark contrast from fellow inventor Thomas Edison.


Because of his cleanliness, his obsession with pigeons confused some of his friends. Why did he spend so much time feeding birds that lived on the streets?

1. He held over 300 patents for his inventions

Over the course of his life, Tesla obtained 308 patents in 27 different countries over the course of his life.

Fototeca Storica Nazionale./Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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While you might know him for some of his bigger creations, such as AC power, there are many inventions that he dreamed up, but never built.

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