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Old 29-11-2008, 09:39 PM   #1
Barrett Dorko
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Default We Are Tesla

I’ve been searching for an idea for a new thread the past couple of weeks and found it while walking Buckeye this morning. This week on Studio 360 is the story of Nikola Tesla, the genius, inventor, obsessive and world class eccentric.

I listened to it again as I raked the last of this year’s leaves and found that Tesla’s ideas, conflicts and isolation resonated with many of the more vocal members of the Soma Simple community. Or, at least, it seems so to me. One post after another came to mind and I decided to see if we couldn’t work through this together.

If you get a chance, listen to the podcast or the program itself and consider the following:
  • “The War of the Currents” and its relation to mechanical and reflexive effect in manual care.
  • The “magical” aspects of advanced technology.
  • The conflict with Edison.
  • Why Tesla’s influence has endured but his notoriety has not.
Well, that’s a start. Let’s see where this goes.
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Old 30-11-2008, 04:26 AM   #2
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A great deal of what I say here will come from Kurt Anderson’s comments as well as the insights of Samantha Hunt, his guest for the show and author of a novel about Tesla and the monologue by Mike Daisy reviewed here.

On the show I was taken especially by Daisy’s retelling of Tesla’s break with Edison over the issue of current. Simply put, Edison favored direct current. This was not only dangerous it was remarkably inefficient, needing a boost that required building a station – every two miles.

Tesla developed alternating current; a way of transferring electricity distances beyond what they could imagine at the time.

Many years ago I heard John Mennell M.D. say, “There are always two effects from manipulation – mechanical and reflexive."

I think we can use the war of the currents here. More soon.
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Old 30-11-2008, 09:11 AM   #3
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Tesla was one of the greatest minds of both the 19th and 20th centuries. His contributions have revolutionized life as we know it for the entire world. Yet he was constantly dogged by critics and competitors, and did not officially receive proper credit until well after his death. There are compelling aspects to Tesla's story that may have some parallels here.

However, Tesla was also famously bad with the details of his personal finances, business dealings in general, questionable and inconsistent documentation of his research and methods, given to whimsical and poetic outbursts, and frequently failed to make good on promises requiring completion of a project on time and within budget. So, when drawing upon Tesla for your inspiration, please be specific about the context of your comparisons.

We wouldn't want to get the wrong impression...
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Old 30-11-2008, 03:30 PM   #4
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Jason,

You’re not wrong about what Tesla struggled with personally, but I am under the impression that he wasn’t consciously in charge of his own behavior to the extent most of us are. There were certain things he simply could not make himself care about, or even pretend to care about. There’s no fixing that as far as I know. I have similar inclinations and whether these behaviors are seen as failings depends upon the culture’s judgment – a changeable thing.

Daisy speaks of Edison as “a methodist” and states that he is not speaking of the Christian denomination but rather of his strong tendency to strike out toward a goal with a set method for achieving it in place. He never strayed from the method and was thus blinded to its limitations. He said famously that "genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration" and there’s something to be said for that. He was, after all, an Ohio boy. But I think he was speaking of only one kind of genius.

Tesla had visions, and it's not evident that he pesrpired much. Fully formed ideas and machines just showed up in his brain somewhere where he could see them and then commit them to paper.

Who among the leaders in therapy are the methodists?
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Old 30-11-2008, 04:58 PM   #5
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One thing I picked up from listening to the podcast was that Edison leaned heavily into the direction he committed himself to, which also happened to be the one profiting him personally and financially (which made him even more blind and "methodist," perhaps, than he might have been) whereas Tesla cared not for wealth, it would seem, only about writing down his visions.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

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Old 30-11-2008, 06:39 PM   #6
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Diane,

So true. Years ago I read of The Duchess' Game within the context of play and business. I believe its one rule has its origins in Alice in Wonderland.

The rule:

Quote:
The more there is for me, the less there is for you


No takers on my question about methodists? I'll give the first answer that comes to mind - Robin McKenzie.
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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Hi Diane!

Quote:
Edison leaned heavily into the direction he committed himself to, which also happened to be the one profiting him personally and financially (which made him even more blind and "methodist," perhaps, than he might have been)
Konnikova mentions this in her book on Sherlock Holmes:

"But there can be such a thing as being too certain of yourself: overconfidence, when confidence trumps accuracy. We become more confident of our abilities, or of our abiloities as compared with others's, than we should be, given the circumstances and the reality. The illusion of validity grows ever stronger, the temptation to do things as you do ever more tempting. This surplus of belief in ourselves can lead to unpleasant results--like being so incredibly wrong about a case when you are usually so incredibly right..."

She later says:

"The more you know and the better you are in reality, the more likely you are to overestimate your own ability--and underestimate the force of events beyond your control.

Overconfidence causes blindness, and blindness in turn causes blunders."
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Old 03-12-2008, 01:57 PM   #8
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Default Tesla's Radio

I actually woke up thinking about this thread last night. Perhaps this is because just before falling asleep I’m working my way through Samantha Hunt’s novel about Tesla.

The book begins with a repeated question asked of Tesla; If you invented radio, why is Marconi given all the credit? This query haunts his thoughts and metaphorically accompanies him wherever he goes.

It came to me that I’d written something about different forms of communication some time ago and I found it in Uncertain Consequences – Revisited. There I wrote:

Quote:
In 1860 the looming Civil War made communication with the US west coast crucial for a number of reasons. At the time, the fastest way to do this was the stage coach which often took a month to complete the one way journey from Missouri to California. Seeing this, a couple of men conceived the Pony Express; a series of solitary riders on horseback supported by relay stations with fresh mounts and riders who were able to carry packets of mail over the same distance in about ten days. This was a well-paid but dangerous job. Famously, a recruitment poster detailed the rider’s attributes (no one over 125 pounds) and added, “orphans preferred.”

The Pony Express operated for about 18 months, generating an entire lore that captured the imagination of a nation. It ended virtually overnight.

In 1825 William Sturgeon built the first electromagnet and ten years later William Morse proved that signals could be transmitted over a wire by using the principles of electromagnetism; one of the four known forces in the universe. Thus the telegraph was born. Though Morse successfully demonstrated the accuracy and usefulness of this device, it took five years for Congress to appropriate funds for the first telegraph wires to be strung. This delay was a reflection of the public’s apathy.

When you ask people what ended the run of the Pony Express most say “the railroad,” but they’re wrong. It was the completion of the telegraph line to California. The railroad line wasn’t connected for another eight years.
That’s in post #15 and the thread contains a great deal more than this, but here I want to speak of Tesla’s conception of the radio wave and how that transformed the world. If effective care is primarily about communication (and I think it is) then perhaps we can relate various forms to the methods popularized during the past 50 years. Tesla's work is relevant to this, and we are connected to him in this way.

I think. I’m almost sure.

More soon.
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:15 PM   #9
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In the thread linked to the last post I liken the passive manipulation of nervous tissue to the Pony Express and the effect of gentle, non-coercive handling to the telegraph. The former, while arguably faster than active movement directed to a region, ran a few risks. The latter trusted the instinctive capabilities of the patient and incorporated the direct use of depolarization within the nervous tissue - rather like a signal through the telegraph wire.

Tesla's understanding of radio signals as a form of communication reminds me of how the sound of my voice can have a profound effect. In fact, we can separate moments in our care into these various forms; a little Pony Express here and a little radio there, now I'll add a little telegraph.

Anybody want to guess where TV comes in?
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Old 12-04-2010, 05:40 PM   #10
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Default We are Ignaz and Levy

This is one of my favorite threads here at Soma Simple, and I was reminded of it in- of all places- church a couple of weeks ago. In a sermon, my pastor made reference to Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician who advocated hand-washing with a chlorinated solution by physicians to reduce the rates of what he thought were iatrogenic cases of fatal "childbed fever" in maternity wards.

The mortality rates in his maternity ward were reduced by 10-fold with this simple practice. Mind you, this pre-dates Pasteur's discovery of "germ theory," so Dr. Ignaz was considered a bit of a loon by his peers. He was apparently fairly extreme, and strident in his insistence that a single cause was responsible for all childbed fever infections, which he attributed to contagion carried on physicians' hands from the cadaver lab. Turns out, it was quite a bit later discovered that different strains of streptococci bacteria which survived hand-washing with soap and water were being carried from patient to patient.

Despite the fact that he saved virtually thousands of lives, eventually, Semmelweis was mercilessly harassed by the medical profession, went crazy and then finally was reportedly beaten to death by the guards in the asylum where he'd been committed.

Now that's dead.

I can identify with Dr. Ignaz in a sense since I am one who frequently finds himself becoming increasingly frustrated and fed up with the ignorance of our peers while our patients needlessly suffer. However, I'm concerned at times that my passion for change reaches a level of stridency that causes the message to get lost.

Fortunately, we are also Levy, who was a reasonable and intelligent contemporary of Semmelweis, who explicated a rational and science-based critique of the single contagion hypothesis.

I'd like to think that Ignaz Semmelweis could have avoided his demise had he remained steadfastly principled in the scientific method. Although that may be a bit revisionist of me since the medical science of the day was still in its infancy. He was obviously tormented by the magnitude of death all around him, and for which he felt personally responsible. I'd also like to think that Levy, since he's so smart and all, would have come up with a way to save women's lives after childbirth.

Did I mention that Semmelweis' empiricism is considered an early version of evidence-based medicine? Or that Levy was roundly praised for his science-based criticism of Semmelweis?

Funny how these issues keep coming up.
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:09 PM   #11
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Maybe the issues are coming up again with the new MS controversy...
1. Apparently a medical guy in Austria (can't recall the name) has been going on and on for absolute decades about circulatory possibilities based on weird anatomical abnormalities in veins in the neck causing back flow and being perhaps connected with MS symptoms.
2. No one would let him explore the issue scientifically.
3. Then Zamboni in Italy, independently started studying the exact same thing... The two have since connected through Google and are collaborating.

Source: CTV, W5.

There is HUGE pressure on the researchers to get busy on this. Researchers who are sensitive to the need to develop a science base first are grinding along. Meanwhile, people are lined up and lining up around the world waiting to get in to get the veins in their necks stretched more open. Apparently cardiovascular surgeons are willing at the drop of a hat to do the procedures within ordinary medical procedural vetting, as they see the procedure as quite safe and easy and cheap. (We're talking Canada, and Canadian health care system... Canada has high rates of MS, and a single payer care system..). Apparently one such place is in Barrie, Ont.

Anyway, could be echoes of the same issues..

Most commonly one reads that Semmelweis 'committed suicide'. Maybe that is a whitewash?
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

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“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

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Old 12-04-2010, 08:10 PM   #12
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Diane,

I wouldn't doubt that the true story of Semmelweis' demise was "scrubbed," as they say in internet lingo.


Somewhere there must be a healthy (no pun intended) balance between empiricism and the slow, slogging and often non-utilitarian science-based approach to treating human physical maladies, like pain.

One has to wonder if things would've been different if the internet had allowed Edison and Tesla to somewhat furtively "collaborate" in a way that would have avoided the tragic pitfalls of DC power stations. Also, I noticed in the 2nd Wikipedia article I referenced, that Semmelweis didn't read Levy's critique until 10 years after it was published. I suspect this was 10 frustrating years of being harassed and ostracized by his peers, and he was probably half-way over the crazy hill by the time Levy- however unintentionally- put that dagger in his back.

So, I'm understanding more and more Barrett's frustration that we are failing to utilize this electronic medium in a way that could obviate the mistakes of history. Why our colleagues in education fail to recognize this error is befuddling to me.

There's a reason that there's a neurobiologic revolution afoot, and I think it's because, with the ready availability of information, there can be. Yet, our academics are hell-bent to repeat the tragic mistakes of the past.

Perhaps it's a filtering problem?
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Old 12-04-2010, 08:28 PM   #13
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Absolutely, IMO, it's a filtering problem.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

“Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

"Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire
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Old 30-01-2012, 12:02 PM   #14
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This thread's too good to forget about.
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Old 14-05-2012, 09:37 PM   #15
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I thought this belonged here.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

“Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

"Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire
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Old 14-05-2012, 10:37 PM   #16
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Diane,
That Tesla comic is absolutely hilarious!
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Old 14-05-2012, 10:51 PM   #17
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Yes! I thought so too.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

“Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

"Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire
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Old 16-05-2012, 03:51 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zendogg View Post
Diane,
That Tesla comic is absolutely hilarious!
It could have been funny were it not for some totally repugnant suggestions. Not sure I saw the humor in hoping Edison's grandchildren were "hit in the mouth by a Nazi torpedo".

We have a lot to learn from Tesla and Edison. Including why one was highly successful and the other died with pigeons.

I repeat...we can learn from them both. That is provided we aren't too busy wishing awful things happen to their family.
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:10 PM   #19
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Default Where's Our Westinghouse?

This thread stiff fascinates me, and it's one of those I come back and read over from time to time. Well, I came upon yet another article about Nikola Tesla that adds an angle to the story that didn't come up during this discussion, specifically the role of Edison's fierce competitor, George Westinghouse, who, unlike the by all accounts callous and ethically-challenged Edison, was a brilliant, wealthy inventor-businessman who also possessed a heart and a strong sense of duty to his employees and contractors. According to the story, he continued to provide financial assistance to Tesla until his death.

So, being embroiled in that ongoing mammoth discussion at LinkedIn, I decided to bring this story here- titled as above- to see if any new insights into the parallels between the "War of the Currents" and the battle for paradigm shift in our profession might arise.
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