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The Curious Connection Between Nikola Tesla And Donald Trump’s Physicist Uncle

  • by Dan Martin
  • 6 Months ago
  • Comments Off

If there’s one thing US President Donald Trump is known for, it’s his constant, shameless self-promotion and deep loyalty to his family, both of which often land him in hot water with critics as he has frequently been accused of narcissism and nepotism.

One topic in which Trump’s family and ego perfectly intersect relates directly to his paternal uncle John G. Trump. Whether talking to a crowded rally about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, or addressing the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump finds many opportunities to reference his late “genius” uncle.

But who was John G. Trump and why does the president allude to him so often? Was he really as brilliant as his nephew makes him out to be?

Dr. John G. Trump posing for a photograph in a high-voltage research at MIT.

The Life and Times of Dr. Trump

The short answer is “yes”. Dr. John G. Trump was a very intelligent physicist, engineer, and inventor all wrapped up into one who worked on many incredible projects such as the million-volt X-ray generator and the development of rotational radiation therapy.

Dr. Trump spent nearly four decades working as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, contributing much to science.

He was well-known and liked within the scientific community and was awarded the National Medal of Science and the President’s Certificate of Merit in the US, as well as the King’s Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom in the UK just to name a few. He was even described as “a pioneer in the scientific, engineering and medical applications of high voltage machinery” by the National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Trump’s lab director, James Melcher, once said, “John, over a period of three decades, would be approached by people of all sorts because he could make megavolt beams of ions and electrons – death rays. … What did he do with it? Cancer research, sterilizing sludge out in Deer Island [a waste disposal facility], all sorts of wondrous things. He didn’t touch the weapons stuff.”

Pretty solid track record, right? Most people, including myself, would agree that Dr. Trump was no slouch in the science department, and by all accounts had a strong humanitarian streak in his work.

Still, no story of this magnitude would be complete without a little conspiracy theory to spice things up. While Dr. Trump painstakingly built a career and a reputation on his own scientific prowess, some history buffs have openly wondered if his greatest innovations might have been slightly inspired by the work of the famous inventor Nikola Tesla. Or perhaps, more than slightly inspired.

Nikola Tesla casually conducting an experiment (left). Tesla’s file cabinets and safes containing much of his research after his death (right).

The Trump-Tesla Connection

Soon after Nikola Tesla died in 1943, many government agencies from the FBI to the Office of Alien Property (OAP) and the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) were called in to investigate all of the documents of research Tesla left behind.

Coincidentally, Dr. Trump was working with the OAP at the time and personally analyzed Tesla’s documents for several days, before concluding, “His [Tesla’s] thoughts and efforts during at least the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character often concerned with the production and wireless transmission of power; but did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.”

Dr. Trump also added that the documents he analyzed would not “constitute a hazard in unfriendly hands”, and the papers were eventually given to a relative of Tesla’s – although it is believed by many that some of the papers were purposefully withheld.

Some online commentators have even theorized Dr. Trump may have downplayed Tesla’s discoveries and kept some of them for his own research purposes. While that theory is unsubstantiated, it is difficult to either prove or disprove.

As such, the subject has become fertile soil for many people to run wild and free with conspiracies, and to be fair as far as conspiracies go this one isn’t all that far-fetched. Regardless of its authenticity, it’s more palatable than something like the flat-earth theory, for example.

Like Uncle, Like Nephew?

So, at the end of the day we know President Trump’s uncle was a very stable genius and physicist to boot. He passed away in 1985 at the age of 77. But what does that mean for his nephew?

Well, compared to many of the things Donald Trump brags about, his relation to John G. Trump is one of the more understandable boasts.

However, as much as he might want to claim this proves he has “good genes” or that he has, like, a “very, very large brain” – it really doesn’t. That’s not meant to be a criticism either, it’s just the truth. Michael Jordan might be a great basketball player, but that doesn’t mean his nephew is. Then again, Michael Jordan’s nephew has played college basketball and is on the radar for recruiters. If he makes it into the NBA, we might need to take a closer look at Donald Trump scientific claims. Until then, it’s just some interesting trivia to know.

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