What if you could taste light? Imagine you tasted strawberries every time you turned your light on. How cool would that be?! Such is the case with a neurological condition called Synesthesia, a condition in which your five senses overlap/cross paths. It blurs the boundaries between the senses. People report experiencing the unique ability of “seeing” music or “hearing” colors. And guess who had this condition? That’s right, Nikola Tesla!
In Nikola Tesla’s autobiography, “My Inventions,” he explains his unusual sensory experience, “When I drop little squares of paper in a dish filled with liquid, I always sense a peculiar and awful taste in my mouth.” Sounds odd, right? Believe it or not, this is only one example of the over 80 (80!) types of synesthesia.
Four percent of the population has this genetic condition. People with this condition have a knack for crafting metaphors for music and writing, as well as for visual creations. The most common types of synesthesia are seeing colors in letters (grapheme-color synesthesia) or seeing colors in music (chromesthesia). Not surprisingly, research indicates that synesthesia is up to seven times more common in artists and other creative intellectuals, including Duke Ellington, Billy Joel, Pharrell Williams, Vincent Van Gogh, and countless others.
Nikola Tesla, on the other hand, had a lesser known visual synesthesia of the projector type. In his book, Tesla describes how he would hear the name of an item and involuntarily envision it in realistic detail. Tesla had eidetic memory/photographic memory and remarkable visualization. He was able to visualize the most complex inventions in his mind with acute precision. Tesla wouldn’t sketch a thing until he had the perfect operating device in his mind.
“When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in thought or test it in my shop.”
Imagine how many of Tesla’s brilliant ideas never made it onto paper! Lucky for us, he did write down some of his best ideas, including inductive lighting and electrodeless lamps, paving the way for Finally® light bulbs to offer energy efficient, long lasting, better light quality.
On a more coincidental note, a member of our marketing team, Nadine Ritchie, recently came across an example of synesthesia. In a Home and Garden Club event, Nadine created a flower arrangement representing the artwork of a Lynnfield High School student. She was paired with the talented Alexia Dellaporta. Alexia drew a toucan to represent synesthesia, specifically seeing objects and numbers in colors. Funny enough, Alexia had included a light bulb to represent the color yellow, and Nadine jumped at the opportunity to include a Finally® light bulb in her flower arrangement. Nadine and Alexia turned out to be the perfect pair.