Nikola Tesla, the beloved inventor, engineer, and physicist, had his birthday just a couple weeks ago on July 10th, which makes him 160 years old! Tesla is revered around the world for his contributions to modern society, including the alternating current electricity system, which is used by most residential homes and commercial business spaces today.

Tesla passed away in 1943, but his reputation as an eccentric, genius of a man continues to inspire and influence generation after generation of freethinkers. Here are five facts about this brilliant man you may not have known about him:

1. He was an avid environmentalist

Tesla knew that the people of Earth would eventually start to drain the planet of its natural resources, so renewable energy sources were something he was very interested in. His research focused largely on finding methods to harness natural energy from the earth and the sky, hoping to limit fossil fuel consumption.

2. Tesla was actually born during a lightning storm

Like something straight out of a fairy tale, Nikola Tesla, the master of electricity, was in fact born during a particularly powerful lightning storm. The midwife helping deliver Nikola from his mother saw this event as a bad omen, claiming Nikola would be a “child of darkness.”

His mother promptly told the midwife, “No, he will be a child of light.” And so he was.

3. He was a humanist at heart

Tesla’s humanist ideology was a strong motivator for him to develop things that would benefit his fellow man. He was largely interested in bettering the quality of human life, but not for personal gain. Which is why he died poor, even though his inventions and ideas contributed greatly to the progress of mankind.

4. Tesla (essentially) predicted wireless internet…In 1901.

Tesla’s capacity for imagining the future was incredible. During his development of the transatlantic radio, he pictured a massive system of information that could be encoded and broadcasted to hand-held devices. Which is exactly how the world unfolded, over a 100 years after his death.

Other early visions of his that would eventually turn into reality include radar technology, X-ray technology, a ‘death ray’ particle cannon, and certain pieces of radio astronomy technology.

5. He had an immaculate memory

Tesla’s memory capacity was nothing short of astonishing. After being only briefly exposed to books or images, Tesla could recall vivid and highly specific details about them, sometimes even being able to remember entire books. Allegedly, Tesla used his incredible imagination to diffuse the intense nightmares that plagued him as a child.

This article by Expanded Consciousness was republished with permission under Creative Commons licensing.