Book Post 2 : “Mad like Tesla” by Tyler Hamilton
Book Post 2 : “Mad like Tesla” by Tyler Hamilton

Book Post 2 : “Mad like Tesla” by Tyler Hamilton

Book Name : Mad like Tesla

Author : Tyler Hamilton

Genre : Non-Fiction

What is it about? : Its about a bunch of underdog inventors and their inventions in the clean energy area.

How I came to read it : I wanted to know what was going on in terms of innovation in the search for clean sources of power these days. So I went to the Renewables section of my University Engineering library and  browsed around looking for interesting books. This book caught my attention because of the ‘Tesla’ in the title. The general idea of the book looked interesting so I took it.

Did I like it? : 
Yes, I liked it immensely. Its inspiring and motivating for people like me who are in the clean energy sector.

Why?  : 

Throughout the history of science and technology people have written off new technologies just because it seemed impossible or they could see no practical use for it. Lets start with one of the most famous ones. Albert Einstein had to say this about Nuclear Energy in 1932,

“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” Years later it was achieved and Nuclear Energy makes up for 11% of the total power generated in the world. Or my personal favorite “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” said by Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM in 1943. Some people say that he never said that but that is not the point here. New technologies often make people doubt its potential. Its quite common. Nikola Tesla had to endure ridicule all his life but that is what make genius people different. They see things normal people don’t.

This book details seven such stories of inventors and their crazy ideas. A common thread running through all of them is that they all faced criticism and rejections at every step of their journey. They have been called mad just like Tesla was during the later years of his life. The book starts off by talking about a company called ”General Fusion” which is trying to make Fusion possible. There are a lot of detractors of the nuclear fusion technology. I was talking to a Nuclear Industry professional sometime back and he said theres a joke in the industry that Nuclear fusion will be made possible in the next 10 years and they have been saying this for the last 50 years. One of our professors in University had the exact same point. But, personally I think fusion will be here soon. I sincerely hope that companies like General Fusion succeed and soon. Next, there is a chapter about a company which is trying to setup a solar power plant in Space. Yes, in outer space, Exactly the stuff of Sci-Fi novels. But that would require the wireless transmission of electricity. Big task but they say they are getting there.

Next chapter is about a company trying to turn waste heat into tornado power. The idea is something like this. Create a giant tornado artificially ( Rising around 20kms into the sky) and since a tornado sucks in hot air from the bottom, put turbines at the base. While the hot air moves into the tornado it will turn the turbines and generate electricity. The idea has impressed many people but as you see the problem is creating a tornado and holding it in one place. Also, these tornadoes can be placed over warm ocean waters for a constant source of heat. This last bit reminded me of the giant water suckers in the Sci-fi movie ”Oblivion”.

There are other chapters about Biomimicry, about producing ethanol creating Algae, and about energy storage. The final chapter is about keeping an open mind while trying to solve the biggest problem mankind has ever faced. The author ends the book on a positive note that even though the problem we face is huge there are an equal number of people working tirelessly in solving this issue. We are in need of that one elusive breakthrough which will break the wall and lead us to a cleaner future. Hopefully some of these inventions will succeed soon. Heres to hope!



  1. That was intriguing. As you said, any idea however small and stupid it sounds at the beginning can be realized in to productive innovation these days. Clean energy is the need of the hour and any idea that makes it's abundance possible is a breakthrough in human history. Who knows!? there were millions and millions of apples fallen on ground, before Newton observed something special in that phenomenon. Thank for giving such a detailed review about the book "Mad Like Tesla"!. Keep your work going. Awaiting more from you!

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