The Forger of Thunderbolts

I have a nerd crush on Charles Proteus Steinmetz. Historical crushes are easy. “This person was brilliant, but also a giant asshole.” over time becomes “This person was brilliant.” So let me caveat my crush by saying I know very little about Charles Proteus Steinmetz. My firsthand knowledge is zero (he died in 1923). I do know Steinmetz figured out a lot of crazy stuff in the field of alternating current (AC) electricity, calculating and overcoming magnetic hysteresis for example. I’ll leave his biography to people who could tell it way better than me. It’s pretty entertaining. He kept odd animals and enjoyed cacti. He changed his middle name for a really great reason. But what really puts him in my “Engineering Badass of the First Order” category is that he worked to make his knowledge and efforts easily understandable and employable by others. He worked to figure out the hard parts and then worked to reduce his mathematical backflips down to pretty straightforward algebra. Steinmetz might of just been showing off, but it sure was a nice way to show off.

(a big thanks to Dave Rohm for highlighting C.P’s awesomeness.)

Pop culture anecdote: He also get’s a derisive shout-out by Mr Burns in a Simpson’s episode. Burn’s calls Homer a “Steinmetz” because he’s thinking too hard and long on a problem.

Burns: Oh, quit cogitating, Steinmetz, and use an open-faced club. The sand wedge!
Homer: Mmm... open-faced club sandwich.



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