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Cartoonist, Science Group Join Forces To Buy Tesla’s Final Lab

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

East Shoreham, NY (WIBX) – What do a non-profit group and a famous website cartoonist have in common? They are both trying to save the Wardenclyffe laboratory, where one of America’s most prolific inventors, Nikola Tesla, worked to create a transatlantic transmission tower.

Nikola Tesla was the inventor and scientist behind several monumental products, including the Tesla Coil (used inside radios, televisions and other electronics) and the alternating current generator. He was also ahead of the curve when it came to wireless radio, even before Guglielmo Marconi sent his first Morse code message.

According to the Tesla Science Center, Wardenclyffe Tower, in East Shoreham, NY was the last laboratory built by Tesla. It was designed as a wireless telegraphy plant, complete with funding from JP Morgan. But, the tower was taken apart soon after its first test, then destroyed in 1917 for scrap.

Two decades later, Peerless Photo moved in as a paper and chemical manufacturer, then sold, becoming a division of Bayer. Manufacturing finally ended in 1987 and the building has been dormant ever since.

Recently, the land and laboratory have been put up for sale, at the nifty price of $1.6 million. The Tesla Science Center has worked for 15 years to save the land, but has not been able to raise the money needed to purchase it.

That’s where Matthew Inman, a Seattle, Washington based cartoonist comes in. Inman draws, writes and runs TheOatmeal.com, a humor website with an incredibly large following. He also happens to be a big fan of Tesla, claiming the inventor “drop-kicked humanity into a second industrial revolution.”

Herbert Barraud/Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Inman and The Tesla Science Center are teaming up to raise as much money as possible to make a cash bid on the property. As of now, the working total is $850,000, which is more than half of the asking price. But, they don’t need to raise the entire $1.6 million.

New York State is stepping in, vowing to match the amount raised, up to $850,000 dollars. Even if the group doesn’t match its goal, the state is still willing to toss in at least $500,000, giving the group enough money to make a low-end cash bid.

However, an unknown buyer has also put in an offer on the land. Though their intentions are a mystery, according to Forbes, rumors include the building of a retail space or simply tearing down Tesla’s last lab.

Since being established, more than $335,000 has been raised to purchase the property. For added incentive, Inman is also offering donors perks, including pictures of Wardenclyffe signed by Tesla’s last remaining relative, William Terbo.

There are still 45 days left to contribute, but at this pace it looks like the goal will be completed long before the deadline. To donate (and maybe pick up a pretty cool bumper sticker) click the link here.

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