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Elon Musk donates $1 million to save Tesla Science Center

Tesla Motors Co. CEO Elon Musk
Tesla Motors Co. CEO Elon Musk
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Tesla Motors chief executive officer Elon Musk has donated $1 million to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, Long Island in honor of his company’s namesake’s 158th birthday. He also presented the facility with a supercharging station. Tesla Motors is named after Serbian-American electrical and mechanical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla, credited as the “father” of wireless technology” and for devising some of the major components of radio and electrical grids, and is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. In fact, Tesla Motors Co.’s first electric car, the Tesla Roadster, uses an AC motor is a directly descended from Tesla's original 1882 design. Its four-door Model S sedan in 2012, and Model X (aimed at the SUV/minivan market) is scheduled to begin production in early 2015. The company also sells electric powertrain systems to Daimler for the Smart EV and Mercedes A Class and to Toyota for the RAV4 EV. In addition to being CEO and product architect for Tesla Motors, Elon Musk chairs the Musk Foundation, which focuses its philanthropic efforts on science education, pediatric health and clean energy. He is a trustee of the X Prize Foundation, promoting renewable-energy technologies, and sits on the boards of The Space Foundation, The National Academies Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, The Planetary Society, and Stanford Engineering Advisory Board, as well as a member of Caltech’s board of trustees of Caltech.

Note: Nikola Tesla began plans to build the Wardenclyffe transmission transmission tower facility with $150,000 (equivalent of $4,252,200 today) provided by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1900, but ran into funding problems during the Panic of 1901, facing foreclosure before construction even began. However he was finally able to move his lab to the sight the following year, continuing his experiments there for the next 12 years. The 16-acre property was again put into jeopardy for many years until fans of the inventor were able to raise approximately $850,000 to buy it. The non-profit now hopes to raise another $10 million to turn the laboratory into a science museum honoring him and his work.