With the world-changing contributions Nikola Tesla made to energy systems, power grids, and even radio communications, it’s no wonder Elon Musk and other major innovators of today cite him as an influence.
However, much like today’s inventors, Tesla’s ambition often produced some ideas that never came to life. Once you see them, you’ll get why.
1. A Giant Death Ray
In the 1930s, Nikola Tesla boasted about a creation straight out of a movie villain’s playbook: a death ray. According to the inventor, the death ray shot beams of energy “that could be used to dispose of enemy warplanes, foreign armies, or anything else you’d rather didn’t exist.”
2. Earthquake Maker
In the late 19th century, Tesla claimed to have come up with an invention that could compete with the power of mother nature itself: an oscillator. The small spinning device allegedly exerted enough force to shake down entire buildings, thus simulating earthquakes. Tesla found the invention too dangerous to publicly release.
3. Free Wireless Electricity
Funded by a major banking company, Tesla designed and built a giant wireless transmission tower in New York City. He planned to use it, in combination with the Earth’s conductive potential, to provide free electricity to everyone on demand. Unfortunately, this was not profitable, and his funding was promptly withdrawn.
4. Flying Saucers
In an ambitious 1911 interview, Tesla told The New York Herald about his newest upcoming project: a “flying machine.” With no wings or propellers, the machine would be unlike any aircraft the world had ever seen. Unfortunately, the sci-fi saucer relied on an energy system that Tesla was unable to construct.