The Oatmeal wants to save Nikola Tesla’s tower [Update]

This may be the most ridiculously geektastic thing we’ve ever seen. The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman is raising funds to save a historic landmark used by history’s greatest geek Nikola Tesla.

Wardencliffe Tower — built in Long Island, New York — was intended an early wireless transmission tower designed by Tesla and intended for commercial trans-Atlantic wireless telephony, broadcasting, and to demonstrate the transmission of power without interconnecting wires. Yep that’s right uninitiated Tesla fans, the man wanted to wirelessly transmit power nearly a century ago.

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Unfortunately when funding for the project ran dry in 1917, the tower was knocked down and the land sold to a photographic film manufacturer. The, land, the lab under the tower and its foundations however are still there and it’s these that Inman is trying help save.

The property is going up for sale for US$1.6-million, with two bidding parties having emerged. The first is by a non-profit organisation wanting to turn it into a Tesla museum. The second is by someone who could potentially tear the building down and develop it for retail purposes. Guess which side The Oatmeal is on:

According to Forbes, Inman was alerted to the project after a seeing incoming tweets and a comment on reddit mentioning a previously successful viral campaign in which he took on Funnyjunk and raised over US$200 000 for the American cancer foundation.

The target for the Wardenclyffe tower however is much more ambitious. The non-profit has received a matching grant from New York State for US$850 000. What that means is that it will get the money if it raises the same amount itself.

Inman told Forbes he was inspired to back the project by his love of all things Tesla:

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.

He notes however that the US$1.6-million would just secure the land for the museum and that renovating the property will take a lot more money:

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.

Update: Billionaire PayPal founder Elon Musk has agreed to help out the project financially. Tesla is personal hero of his, and Musk named his electric car company after the inventor.

Inmman also tweeted that the project had reached US$400 000 funding in 20 hours, crashing Indiegogo’s servers:

You can donate to the cause on its Indiegogo campaign site.

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