• May 14, 2014
Matthew Inman is known for his lengthy, often wordy online comics called The Oatmeal. He's also a huge fan of Nikola Tesla, and helped gather $1.37 million via crowdfunding in 2012 to buy up Tesla's laboratory and set the stage for a Tesla museum, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe. It was such an Internet hit that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk even chipped in $2,500 and Tweeted that he "will do more in the future." Well, Inman is getting ready to call in that favor.

Yesterday, The Oatmeal published a glowing review of sorts on how great the all-electric Model S is (slightly NSFW). In it we learned that Inman is bonkers in love with his EV, calling it his "intergalactic spaceboat of light and wonder" and saying the acceleration is "freaky." He adores the door handles, the frunk, the advanced powertrain and pretty much everything else. In fact, part one is so positive it reads like an over-the-top Tesla advertorial. But then comes part two, where Inman gets down to business.

Musk simply said, "I would be happy to help."

See, the $1.37 million was used to buy Nikola Tesla's property but was not enough to actually, you know, build the museum. To do that, the Science Center needs another $8 million. And guess who has those kinds of funds? How about a billionaire who is using the Tesla name and is already a fan of the museum idea? That's right, one Elon Musk. And part 2 of The Oatmeal's comic is an argument for why Musk should fork over the $8 million to help pay for the museum. Inman says it is, "A polite request from a humongous fan" and adds that, "You owe us nothing, and you've done nothing but good things in the name of Nikola Tesla. But the fact remains: Tesla Motors, a company now worth billions, is using Nikola Tesla's name, and they're using his technology, and all we want in return is a little bit of help."

Inman says that $8 million is "the bare minimum to build, staff, and maintain a Nikola Tesla Museum," and that the number was reached after getting "countless estimates from site planners, architects, and museum curators from all around the world." Something like $6 million would be good, he writes, but, "any less than $8M would pretty much leave us in the same boat we're in now." Tesla hasn't offered up an official statement, but on Twitter, Musk simply said, "I would be happy to help." Not sure what that means, exactly, but it's probably not going to make Inman hate his car any time soon.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 54 Comments
      Aaron
      • 1 Day Ago
      Elon is a very smart man. He can make sure that Tesla Motors co-sponsors the museum, displays a cut-away Model S, shows the insides of the Nikola Tesla-invented AC induction motor, etc. That $8M won't be just a gift. It will be a marketing exercise. Good for all parties involved!
      • 1 Day Ago
      This title isn't just misleading, it's wrong. Musk hasn't agreed to the $8 million, not yet anyway.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Day Ago
      I am more of a Michael Faraday fan myself.... Faraday has far more contributions to electricity in my opinion. But his work was done in the UK, and he has a museum already. It was nice that COSMOS has just recently given the American layperson a bit of knowledge about Faraday... since he is even less well known than Tesla in the US.
      Tysto
      • 1 Day Ago
      Musk has the right connections to get enthusiastic philanthropists to become a part of this (and, ultimately, nudge Inman and his cat cartoons out), so it won't cost him nearly $8 million personally, and he'll get a lot of good press.
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Day Ago
      I'm a supporter of maintaining museums to past achievements, and memorials to pioneers and achievers whose work benefited mankind. However, it's equally important not to build shrine dedicated to an unrealistic image of individuals. . Disciple of great men often present a distorted view of their hero's and attribute virtues, and philosophies to pioneers that they simply didn't possess. Nikola Tesla made a great contribution to 19th century science, and like many pioneers suffered setbacks and some injustice. However, Nikola Tesla also had a dark side and was mentally unstable, especially toward the end of his life. His attitudes on race were in accord with his friend and NAZI propagandist George Viereck . Like fellow industrial pioneer, Henry Ford 1, he was definitely anti-Semitic. Unlike Henry Ford, he also stated he was physically repelled by coloured people, reusing to be served by coloured waiters. He also loathed those people whom he felt were aesthetically unattractive, on occasions dismissing employees for being overweight, deformed of disabled. Tesla, was an admirer of the Nazi program of imposed selective breeding, and culling (or murdering) inferior or deformed human beings (including homosexuals). Tesla subscribed to the pseudo-science of eugenics, and phrenology, describing the concept of human compassion to those less fortunate as a mistake. He believed in the "ruthless workings of nature" as the best method of determining who should be allowed to breed, and the forcible prevention of those judged inferior. Curiously, like most of the supporters of "Eugenics" , he was a poor example of human evolutionary perfection ! Tesla suffered from a number of physiological and psychological disorders, that became more pronounced in later life. While none of these personality defects, detract from his scientific contributions, Matthew Inman may find that a little more objective study of Nikola Tesla might reveal that it's not always a good idea to meet your heroes !
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        If we dive into the truth about all of our scientific heroes... we may have no museums left, nor heroes to aspire to. So how about we just focus on the achievements of Tesla and Van Gogh.... and strive to live up to those particular attributes that we do find endearing.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Day Ago
      Instead of a misleading headline/article, you coulda just posted the oatmeal's awesome article about the Model S.. How is this the #1 green car blog... you folks can do better.. seriously..
        Hal20xx
        • 1 Day Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I sat here trying to come up with several witty responses but your statement is so stupid that I couldn't come up with anything.
          Hal20xx
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Hal20xx
          Well damn, and now I see what was misleading.
      H.E. Pennypacker
      • 1 Day Ago
      tesla is undergoing a renaissance. consumer induction light bulbs are coming to market soon. tesla cars are a success. and now they're building a shrine to him. hooray for tesla.
      mawhalen53
      • 1 Day Ago
      He tweeted that he's "happy to help," and nothing more. I don't exactly interpret that to mean that "Elon Musk says yes to The Oatmeal's $8m Favor."
        Ryan Schneider
        • 1 Day Ago
        @mawhalen53
        Precisely. However, if this really gets traction in the media I don't see why he wouldn't foot the bill. Inman has a very good point that they are essentially profiting HEAVILY from the Tesla name/legacy without paying a single dime.
          AcidTonic
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan Schneider
          SteveG But we're told copyright shorter than 100 years may mean bands like the Beatles have to go record some new stuff or get a job. Or perhaps *gasp* put away a percentage of the millions when they are big to pay for the times when they aren't. Or we could just rape and pillage from society works in the public domain by just issuing takedown notices for them. Hollywood has been caught taking down public domain work quite often.
          SteveG
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan Schneider
          Yeah, just like they are profiting from the use of the wheel without paying Uggs family one single sea shell. Tesla is long dead, paying his family any amount will not make him create new stuff.
          fordskydog
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan Schneider
          Paying a dime to whom exactly? Tesla is dead. He's not going to benefit if you try to pay him now. As soon as a musician dies, I consider their catalog open season. Parasites are a big problem with patent law. I don't mind paying if there is at least the illusion of money going to the content creator. Public domain is an important part of the original ideas of patents. Patent law was not invented to make people rich. It was invented to make society rich with good ideas that work. We are supposed to use it to encourage creativity, not to allow parasites to hoard the gains of good ideas. RIAA.
      Hugh Jardon
      • 1 Day Ago
      Based on the way The Oatmeal loves the Model S and Sriracha chili sauce, I think he should tie the two together with a special edition vehicle. The Sriracha Model S, with metallic fire red paint and green trim/accents (like the Sriracha cap). The cars could have 3 levels of "spiciness", 60kW, 85kW and 125kW.
      PoMoMangler
      • 1 Day Ago
      My mom is one of the organizers behind the Tesla Science Center back in Shoreham. I'm really proud of her, and really appreciate Matt Inman's help over the past two years.
      purrpullberra
      • 1 Day Ago
      Had to share that link a few times. Funny stuff. Does any other car maker get average buyers this excited? I've never heard of a car getting such popular traction with zero ads and no paid spokesperson. The awesomeness of the car is enough to prompt this kind of adoration. Kudos to Tesla, again.
      turbo_awd
      • 1 Day Ago
      Dear Mr. Inman (didn't see anywhere to leave comments on the oatmeal site): glad you're well off enough to afford a Tesla. Please don't rub everyone's face in it who can't. I think most people would drive a Tesla if it was remotely affordable. Plus, the comic is misleading: supercharging is NOT included with the base Model S - you have to pay $2000-2500 for it with the base model. You're looking at minimum $80K (after tax). Yes, you get a $7.5K tax credit back, if you can use it. -- So, one rich dude begs another rich dude for some $$$ to fund his pet project and he agrees, and this is news? Look, I admire Tesla (I'm an engineer) - but maybe Elon could instead use some of his $$$ to lower the price of the Tesla instead, so we could all afford one??? I think that would be a little better for the planet.
        EZen
        • 1 Day Ago
        @turbo_awd
        When Autoblog talks about any number of sportscars, supercars and hypercars I don't see people telling them to eff off. He drives a car worth about $80k. Congratulations on being a hugely popular internet website and selling really funny merchandise. I expect I'll see you fighting for the common man on every single thread where a car costs more than $80k. In all seriousness, the Model X is a crossover at a good, more family friendly price and the Model E they're shooting for $30k-$35k which is extremely affordable considering the lack of maintenance, fluids, gas, tax break, etc.
          turbo_awd
          • 1 Day Ago
          @EZen
          Actually, I'm guessing after taxes and upgrades, probably closer to $100k. Base price for S-85 is $80k, add 10% sales tax, upgrades (I'm guessing the "ipad thingy" is the tech upgrade, not standard, etc..) I don't see people talking about how "my 911 is magical and makes all you driving lesser cars idiots - the only way not to be an idiot is to drive a Tesla". That's what that sounded like..
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Day Ago
          @EZen
          Well.... there is the display of ignorance. The "ipad thingy" And since every car in the world, compares prices of its base before taxes and extra options... it is not a $100k car. It is an $80k car.
        Kimura
        • 1 Day Ago
        @turbo_awd
        You jelly?
        fordskydog
        • 1 Day Ago
        @turbo_awd
        Wait for the next model. You'll be able to afford it. Also, drop dead. This is news. It's not about the rich dudes, they are supporting characters. It's about the N. Tesla museum. And in total disclosure, Elon Musk is my all time man crush.
          Thereminator
          • 1 Day Ago
          @fordskydog
          I second the "dropping dead" and buying the next,more affordable,Tesla model...but not necessarily in that order.
        • 1 Day Ago
        @turbo_awd
        haters gon hate.
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