Nikola Tesla

Length: 1430 words

“Were we to seize and eliminate from our
industrial world the results of Mr. Tesla’s work,
the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our
electric cars and trains would stop, our towns
would be dark, our mills would be dead and idle.

Yes, so far reaching is his work that it has become
the warp and woof of industry… His name marks
an epoch in the advance of electrical science.

From that work has sprung a revolution…” -B.A.

Behrend If you were to go to an encyclopedia and
tried to find out who invented the radio, X- rays,
and the tube amplifier, this is what you would find:
radio was invented by Marconi, X- rays by
Roentgen, and the tube amplifier by de Forest.

While you’re there, look to see who invented the
fluorescent bulb, neon lights, the speedometer, the
basics of radar, and the microwave oven. I don’t
know who the encyclopedias say invented those
things, but I bet it won’t give any mention of a man
by the name of Nikola Tesla. In fact, I bet they
won’t give much mention of Tesla for any of the
many things he invented. We can thank Thomas
Edison for this. Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljian,
Croatia at precisely midnight on July 9/10, 1856.

Not a lot is known about his early childhood. His

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was an orthodox priest, and his mother,
though unschooled, was highly intelligent. Tesla
had an extraordinary memory, and he spoke six
languages. He Spent four years studying math,
physics, and mechanics at the Polytechnic Institute
at Graz. Tesla first came to America in 1884,
when he was 28. He worked for Thomas Edison.

Edison, at the time, had just patented the lightbulb,
and needed a system to distribute the electricity.

One of Tesla’s gifts was an understanding of
electricity. Edison promised Tesla large amounts
of money if he could work out the kinks in
Edison’s DC system of electricity. In the end,
Tesla saved Edison over $100,000 (which would
be millions today), but Edison refused to live up to
his end of the bargain. Tesla quit, and Edison
spent the rest of his life trying to stifle Tesla’s
reputation. Tesla devised a system for electricity,
AC, which was better than Edison’s DC system of
electricity. AC (Tesla’s system) is what is used in
our homes today. AC offered many advantages
over DC. AC could be transmitted over large
distances through thin wires. DC electricity
required a large power plant every square mile,
and the transmission through very thick cables. A
system of transmission would be incomplete
without devices to run on them. Seeing that there
were none, Tesla invented the predecessors to the
motors used in every appliance in our houses.

Inventing these motors was not simple, since
scientists of the late 1800’s were convinced that
because no motor could be devised for an AC
system, trying to develop a motor for it was waste
of time. After all, AC current reverses direction 60
times a second, which would make the motor rock
back and forth and never get anywhere. Tesla
easily solved this problem and proved everyone
wrong by developing a working motor for the AC
system. In May 1885, word of the AC system
was heard by George Westinghouse. Tesla signed
contract with Westinghouse under which Tesla
would receive $2.50 for each Kilowatt of AC
electricity sold. Tesla finally had the money to
conduct all the experiments he wanted. The
problem was Edison. He had too much invested in
his DC system of electricity. So Edison tried his
best to discredit Tesla. He constantly tried to
show that AC electricity was far more dangerous
than DC electricity. Tesla easily countered this. At
the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago, Tesla
demonstrated how safe AC electricity was by
passing high frequency AC electricity through his
body to power light bulbs. He then shot lightning
bolts from his Tesla Coils into the crowd, without
harm. Tesla had dramatically proven once an for
all that AC electricity was safe to use. In addition,
Tesla also used Fluorescent bulbs in his lab about
forty years before they were “invented” by
industry. At worlds fairs and other exhibitions, he
took glass tubes and molded them into the shapes
of famous scientists names. These were the first
Neon signs ever. Tesla also designed the first
hydroelectric plant, located in Niagra Falls. He
also patented the worlds first speedometer.

Everything seemed to be going great for Tesla
then. But then, the royalties owed to Tesla started
to exceed $1 million, and Westinghouse ran into
financial trouble. Tesla realized that if his contract
remained in effect, Westinghouse would be out of
business and he had no desire to deal with
creditors. Tesla took his contract and ripped it up!
Instead of becoming the worlds first billionaire, he
was paid $216,000 for his patents. In 1898, he
demonstrated the first remote controlled boat at
Madison Square Garden. You can thank Tesla for
the remote controls on your Television sets.

Tesla’s dream was to give free energy to the
world. In 1900, backed by $150,000 from J.P.

Morgan, Tesla began constructing his “Wireless
Broadcast System” tower on Long Island, New
York. This tower was intended to link the worlds
telephone and telegraph services, as well as
transmit pictures, stock reports, and weather
information around the world. Most people
thought he was insane for trying this -after all,
transmission of voice, picture, and electricity were
unheard of at this time. Unfortunately, Morgan cur
the funding when he realized that it meant free
energy for the world. An interesting side note:
Though Marconi is credited with the invention of
the radio, in 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled
that Marconi’s patents were invalid due to Tesla’s
previous descriptions. One day, in his Manhattan
lab, Tesla created an earthquake. He managed to
get a steam-driven oscillator to vibrate at the same
frequency as the earth. Tesla claimed that, in
theory, the same principle could be used to split
the earth in two. In fact, he tried to prove that
theory. In his Colorado Springs lab in 1899, he
sent energy waves all the way through the earth
(providing the theory for the earthquake seismic
stations of today). When the waves came back, he
added more electricity. The result? A 130 foot
lightning bolt-the largest man-made lightning bold
ever! The thunder was heard 22 miles away, and
the entire meadow surrounding the lab had a
strange blue glow to it. This was only a warm-up
for his real experiment, but he never got to do that
experiment because he blew out the local power
plant. At the beginning of World War I, the
government tried to come up with a way to detect
German U-boats. They put Edison in charge of the
search. Tesla proposed using energy waves, a
system known as radar. Edison rejected the idea
as ludicrous, and the world had to wait another 25
years until it was invented. Tesla’s reward for his
lifetime of creativity? The Edison Medal, the
prized scientific award. Most prized to everyone,
that is, except Tesla. He took it as a slap in the
face, after the verbal abuse given to him by
Edison. During the last thirty years of his life, Tesla
had many brilliant ideas, but lacked the capital to
patent them. Over the course of his life, Tesla
received over 800 different patents, and he
probably would’ve had many more if he’d had the
money. The man who invented the modern world
died nearly penniless on January 7, 1943, at age
86. His funeral was attended by more than 2,000
people. Some of the ideas he toyed with in the last
decades of his life included time travel,
anti-gravity, ozone generators, and death rays. He
claimed to be able to destroy 10,000 planes, 250
miles away. He talked about experiments that
suggested particles with fractional charges of an
electron, something discovered in 1977: Quarks.

What kind of impact did Nikola Tesla have on our
lives? Look around you. Chances are Nikola
Tesla is somehow responsible for many of the
things you see that make modern life so modern.

The radio you listen to, the fluorescent lights
around you, the motors that run your appliances,
and the electricity that runs those motors. Here are
some things you might want to think about: Where
would we be in had Nikola Tesla never been
Born, and how much further ahead would we be if
he had had the money to finance the experiments
he always wanted to? ”We are confronted with
portentous problems which can not be solved just
by providing for our material existence, however
abundantly. On the contrary, progress in this
direction is fraught with hazards and perils not less
menacing than those born from want and suffering.

If we were to release the energy of the atoms or
discover some other way of developing cheap and
unlimited power at any point of the globe this
accomplishment, instead of being a blessing, might
bring disaster to mankind… The greatest good will
come from the technical improvements tending to
unification and harmony, and my wireless
transmitter is preeminently such. By its means the
human voice and likeness will be reproduced
everywhere and factories driven thousands of
miles from waterfalls furnishing the power; aerial
machines will be propelled around the earth
without a stop and the sun’s energy controlled to
create lakes and rivers for motive purposes and
transformation of arid deserts into fertile land…”
-Nikola Tesla BIBLIOGRAPHY PAGE 1. 2.

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