The Oatmeal, also known as Matthew Inman, has had a pretty good summer raising funds (more on that in a minute), and the web’s comic genius has now turned his sights to another good deed — rescuing the site of Nikola Tesla’s laboratory from developers that want to turn it into a shopping center.
Before The Oatmeal decided to Captain Save-A-Ho Nikola Tesla, he fought a bit of a good fight with another website that tried to shake him down for $20,000 after he mentioned on his own website that they were making ad revenue off his works reposted to their own site.
The move backfired spectacularly several times, and the wind-up was that cancer charities and animal rescue organizations ended up with enough in donations from fans of the Oatmeal to literally purchase small houses. (And one unlucky lawyer received a hand-drawn picture of his mother copulating with a bear.)
Essentially, now we the internet have to come up with just over $800,000 to match New York State’s donation of the same amount to total the $1.7 million purchase price of the site — and Tesla’s lab will forever be protected from becoming yet another Capital One bank on Long Island.
The Oatmeal has published an awesome comic to explain the situation here. And Greg Voakes of Forbes sat down with Inman to discuss why he has decided to lead the charge to save this very important bit of science history.
Voakes asks Inman why Nikola Tesla and his contributions are so important, to which Inman replies:
“As I’ve mentioned in my comics, Nikola Tesla was an unsung hero in the history books. He gave us so much and we gave him so little in return. The fact that there’s no physical Tesla Museum in the United States is a testament to this. Tesla’s rival, Thomas Edison, has multiple sites which honor his achievements, but Tesla’s got some little memorials here and there but no real museum here. This is something that needs to be fixed.”
PREACH IT, BROTHER INMAN! Voakes then asks what we all want to know: When will it happen and will there be wild, extreme science partying in honor of Tesla next summer? Inman hopes so:
“Building a science center will take a lot more time and money, so in the interim I’d love to have a Nikola Tesla Festival on Nikola Tesla Day (July 10). It’d just be a big one-day outdoor event in Shoreham, NY where Wardenclyffe is located. The non-profit I’m working with has the blessing of Tesla’s nephew, and one of the last remaining people on earth who personally knew Tesla and shook his hand, and I’d love to have him there. I could also probably arrange for us to have a BBQ powered by Tesla coils and possibly some Tesla-inspired musical performances. I’d be there too, of course. The Tesla Festival would be an interim way of showing everyone who donated what came of their generosity.”
You can read Forbes’ full coverage of The Oatmeal’s bid to save Tesla’s lab over on their site. Do you think history owes Nikola Tesla a massive debt of gratitude? (And if you want to donate, click here to help save Nikola Tesla’s lab site.)