One famous legend surrounding the eccentric Tesla was that he had an earthquake machine in his Manhattan laboratory that shook his building and nearly brought down the neighborhood during experiments.
Tesla’s device wasn’t actually an earthquake machine, according to W. Bernard Carlson, author of “Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age,” but a high-frequency oscillator. A piston set underneath a platform in the laboratory shook violently as it moved, another experiment in more efficient electricity.
It didn’t bring the block to ruins, Carlson said, but it did “shake the poop out of Mark Twain.” Twain was known for having digestive problems, so Tesla, who knew Twain through their gentlemen’s club, invited him over. He instructed Twain to stand on the platform while he flipped on the oscillator. After about 90 seconds, Twain jumped off the platform and ran for the facilities.
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