Friday, February 11, 2011

Tesla v. Edison Mad Lib

Happy Birthday, Thomas Edison!


Thomas Edison, developer of many modern devices like the phonograph, the motion picture camera and the electric light bulb, was born 164 years ago today, on Feb. 11, 1847. The American inventor holds over a thousand U.S. patents and his legacy is found everywhere, like in the New Jersey town named for him. Though he's often praised in American history, Edison is also surrounded with a darker history -- his relationship with inventor Nikola Tesla.

Those who frequent Physics Buzz have seen posts, like this one, referencing the tension between the two inventors. A history of the skirmish was also the subject of one of APS' Physics Quest comic books -- Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair -- which got me to thinking: What if Edison and Tesla actually had a throw-down? Who would win?

To find out, I decided to craft a Tesla v. Edison hypothetical battle Mad Lib:

To complete the Tesla v. Edison Mad Lib below, first, print out a copy of this post by going to File -> Print in your browser menu. (Or copy and paste the contents into a Word document and print from there.) Then, fill in the blanks at the top of the post with the appropriate parts of speech. Next, fill in the numbered blanks in the story with the words from the list at the top. Read out loud with friends and enjoy!

1. Noun _______________
2. Noun _______________
3. Shouted word of praise _______________
4. Adjective _______________
5. Noun _______________
6. Plural Noun _______________
7. Noun _______________
8. Past Tense Action Verb _______________
9. Facial feature _______________
10. Name of Person _______________
11. Adjective _______________
12. Plural noun _______________
13. Adjective _______________
14. Noun _______________
15. Name of Person _______________
16. Adjective _______________

In this Mad Lib, the role of Nikola Tesla is played by Puppet Tesla and the roll of Thomas Edison is played by Puppet Edison. President Cleveland plays himself:

It was late evening in 1893. Puppet Tesla was at the Chicago World's Fair. President Grover Cleveland was about to flip a
(1) _______________ that will turn on Puppet Tesla's alternating current (AC) electrical system and make the 1893 World's Fair the first illuminated by electricity. Puppet Edison, Puppet Tesla's former boss, had bid to light up the Fair with his own direct current (DC) electrical (2) _______________, but Puppet Tesla's design, including Puppet Tesla's own light bulbs, was chosen thanks to its lower cost.

President Cleveland flipped the switch and, suddenly, everything was bright. Puppet Tesla's system was successful!
(3) _______________!" Puppet Tesla shouted, heading off with friends to celebrate.

"Not so fast, Puppet Tesla," came a voice. It's Puppet Edison! "Your alternating current may have won the day, but my direct current will win the war! I have already shown how your
(4) _______________ electricity can electrocute elephants."

"Well if its war you want, then it's (5) _______________ you'll get," Puppet Tesla said. "I have never forgiven you for cheating me out of the $50,000 (6) _______________ you promised me for improving your direct current (7) _______________ !"

With that, Puppet Tesla (8) _______________ Puppet Edison right in the bow tie. "Fisticuffs, fisticuffs!" bystanders shouted. Puppet Edison grabbed a light bulb and swung at Puppet Tesla's (9) _______________.

"Break it up," shouted (10) _______________. "You're both
(11) _______________ inventors and heroes! The world needs both of your current (12) _______________!"

"Alternating current is the way of the future!" Puppet Tesla shouted. "It's safer and more (13) _______________." Puppet Tesla took one of his own light bulbs and popped Puppet Edison on the head, knocking him onto the (14) _______________.

"Take that, Puppet Edison!" Puppet Tesla shouted. "The average (15)_______________ may always remember your name, but the world will forever be powered by my (16) _______________ alternating current system!"

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