Every year, I have celebrated the anniversary of Airlock Alpha with a history, a "wow, I can't believe I'm still doing this after all these years," some hope for the future, and a few accolades.
I'll try to fit a few of them in here in this column as we celebrate Airlock Alpha's 14th birthday (which actually occurred on Aug. 13, but don't tell anyone). But I wanted to take a minute to point out something I think we should really be looking into: Celebrating a true geek that never, ever gets celebrated.
Yes, I am talking about Nikola Tesla. The man that gave us the awesome Tesla guns in "Warehouse 13." Who helped give "The Prestige" the magic it needed for Christopher Nolan. And the reason why we have electricity in our homes right this moment.
Matthew Inman (no relation to me, because I'm not related to anyone who has a name that rhymes with mine) wants to raise money to save Wardenclyffe. Inman, by the way, runs the amazingly awesome website The Oatmeal. Your first question might be, "What the hell is Wardenclyffe?" Which is interesting, because I was shocked that Wardenclyffe still exists!
Wardenclyffe was Tesla's laboratory in Long Island, N.Y., where he had hoped to demonstrate the ability to transmit electrical power wirelessly -- at around the same time the Titanic was just being planned as a new ship in the White Star Line. The laboratory was named after land developer James Warden who was convinced that Tesla's project would become so famous, a whole "radio city" would rise up around it. Sadly, that never happened.
Tesla had began construction of a tower that rose 186 feet, not including a top cupola, that would add an additional 68 feet to the height. While this tower was the first of several planned around the world to transmit radio and other types of communication, it was also designed to produce what Tesla claimed would be wireless energy -- harnessed from the Earth itself.
But Tesla never got to realize it. He ran out of money, the Westinghouse company cut off funding beyond the initial $150,000 donated, and the land was foreclosed. Tesla, who had moved much of his laboratory work to a small building in front of the tower, had to vacate. And when World War I rolled around, the U.S. government decided to demolish the tower, in fear that German spies would utilize it.
Yet, the building that Tesla used a laboratory during the Wardenclyffe years still exists, as well as the foundation for the tower, with shafts and iron pipes drilled hundreds of feet into the ground. Agfa-Gavaert, a Belgium imaging products company, has owned the property for decades, and operated a photo manufacturing facility from 1969 to 1992.
During that time, there has been several attempts to make the remaining Wardenclyffe an historical site. But it would require the blessing of its current owner, and Agfa -- who is trying to sell the property for development -- isn't interested in limiting its potential buyers market.
Plans are to sell the property for $1.7 million, but Inman has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is looking for more. I think it would be a great way to honor a true geek from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and a way to finally honor a legend that history has somehow forgot. And if anyone can raise this money, it's Inman.
In any event, if you're interested, check out Inman's campaign of "Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum" by clicking here.
OK, so back to our anniversary. On Monday, we turned 14. The site was founded on Aug. 13, 1998 as SyFy World (technically, as Syfyman's World, only to be slightly renamed a few days later) on what used to be known as GeoCities. If you try to visit the old GeoCities site today, you will find nothing but an apologetic note from Yahoo that the site is gone.
In 2000, we merged with Star Trek Portal to become SyFy Portal, and we kept that designation through 2009, when we sold the "SyFy" brand to NBC Universal and rebranded ourselves Airlock Alpha. Since we are the same site with a different name, we stay connected to our history. Just call us the Cleveland Browns of science-fiction. On second thought ... don't.
I am on a bit of a pre-season vacation at the moment, which is why the site has been a little dormant lately, but we are working to bring you some great new writers in our 15th year, and give you even more great reasons to visit Airlock Alpha as well as our sister sites of Rabid Doll and Inside Blip.
I want to thank you for making Airlock Alpha your home, whether you've been here for many years, or you're just discovering us recently. Either way, we wouldn't be here without you, and we think you are absolutely amazing. And no, I'm not pandering. OK, maybe a little ... but I still love ya!
When I was 14, I was watching the third season of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," anticipating "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," and enjoying "Total Recall." Airlock Alpha is not enjoying a Star Trek television series, unfortunately, but it is anticipating "Star Trek 2." And sadly, it has a "Total Recall," too, but not the kind it would recommend you watch.
So happy birthday, Airlock Alpha! Oh, and happy birthday to the "SyFy" brand, too. You're welcome, NBCU!
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