Who Was Nikola Tesla?

By jamie
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The world would be a very different place if it were not for our ability to harness the power of electricity. It helps to power our homes, our businesses, and even our vehicles are becoming increasingly powered by electricity. As our technology progresses, electricity is also a viable alternative to our reliance on fossil fuels.

There have been numerous people involved in the development of our understanding of electricity and the technology that uses it. One of the most prominent of all was Nikola Tesla. Tesla was a pioneer that took our understanding even further and invented technology that is in use today.

1. Born In Croatia

Tesla was born in the town of Smiljan, Croatia, in 1856. His mother managed the family farm and his father was a priest. When he was growing up, Teslas mother, Djuka Mandic, would invent household appliances and it is thought this was likely a catalyst behind his own desires to be an inventor.

Tesla had four siblings and, in 1863, a riding accident took the life of his brother, Daniel. Tesla was only 7 years old at the time and the loss hit him hard. Tesla would struggle with mental health throughout much of his life, and it is thought his brothers death was an underlying cause of his problems.

Nikola Tesla

2. Thomas Edison

Tesla went on to study at the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, from which he withdrew and ended up working for the Continental Edison Company. The company was owned by a certain Thomas Edison, a pioneer in electricity who is widely considered to be Americas greatest ever scientist and inventor.

Despite working in the same field, the two did not get on with each other and would often disagree. It is thought that the reason the two were not awarded the Nobel prize together is because of the contempt they had for each other. After Edison died in 1931, Tesla even wrote a negative piece on him in the New York Times.

3. George Westinghouse

Tesla only worked with Edison for a few months as the pairs relationship with each other broke down. Determined to build his own company, Tesla worked for a while digging ditches to help raise capital but his business attempts would ultimately fail. With his business ventures failed, Tesla would eventually begin working for another great in the field of electricity: George Westinghouse.

Westinghouse purchased the rights to Tesla’s AC induction motor and he also hired Tesla and even gave Tesla his own lab. During this time, Tesla made a number of developments in electricity, but Westinghouse would ultimately retain the rights to Tesla’s work.

Nikola Tesla

4. The Tesla Coil

Tesla had an image of being able to transmit electricity from one place to another without the use of wires. It was ideas like this that gave him a reputation of being a “mad scientist,” but this did not deter him from his endeavors. Eventually, he came up with one of his most famous creations - the Tesla coil.

As groundbreaking a development as the Tesla coil was, it had only limited practical uses. It is still used today, however, for its ability to help detect leaks in vacuum systems. Regardless of its practical purposes, the Tesla coil is still very popular for the stunning spectacle of electricity.

5. AC Induction Motor

Tesla’s AC induction motor was a development that would certainly see more practical uses. Incredibly, it was also something that he had thought up in his head until he came to physically construct the motor which worked just as he expected it to. Even today they are among the most commonly used electric motors.

The motor works by causing a rotating magnetic field when an AV current is passed through it. As the magnetic field “spins,” it also causes a rotor within the engine to spin. This, in turn, creates torque that is able to power a wide range of machines, including the latest electric cars.

Nikola Tesla

6. Radio

Nikola Tesla was also a pioneer in another technology that we still use today: radio. The actual invention of the technology is credited to an Italian inventor by the name of Guglielmo Marconi, although it was Tesla that invented technology such as tuners and antennas.

In 1898, Tesla first demonstrated his work in radio by using it to operate a boat on the Hudson River. This work was actually delayed by a fire to his lab. The demonstration was so revolutionary that people dismissed it as a hoax, with some people even claiming the boat was being controlled by a trained monkey inside the boat.

7. Earthquake Machine

One of Tesla’s ideas involved a machine that vibrated at high speeds up and down in order to generate electricity. While the machine achieved its aim of generating electricity, it was fraught with other problems that meant it would ultimately fail. One day, when Tesla was fine-tuning his machine, it caused the ground to start shaking.

On turning the machine up further, other machinery that was in the lab was being sent flying by the vibrations. Tesla broke the machine with a hammer and, when the police arrived to see what was happening, Tesla covered up the incident by claiming there must have been an earthquake.

Nikola Tesla

8. Thought Camera

The ability to be able to peer into minds to see what somebody is thinking is something that has always fascinated us but has remained in the realms of science fiction. This is despite greats such as Tesla doing their best to make advances in the field.

Tesla had an idea that when a person has a thought, the corresponding image will appear on the retina. He believed that if he was able to generate a projection of this image onto a screen then we would be able to get a glimpse into peoples minds. Of course, the mind doesn’t work like that, but Tesla could not have known that at the time.

9. Wireless Energy

Wireless internet is now something that is found in homes throughout the world and uses routers that are able to transmit information to computers and other devices. While the technology is a relatively new arrival for us, it was Tesla that first developed something similar in 1901.

He built a large tower that was able to send messages to ships on the Atlantic Ocean from Long Island, New York. He even wanted to adapt it so that it could transmit energy, another development that we have recently seen come into development. Unfortunately, his funder, J. P. Morgan, cut off the funds. It is suspected Morgan cut Tesla’s funds in fear that his invention might devalue his holdings in other energy sectors.

10. Electric Supersonic Airship

Air travel was very different in Tesla’s time in comparison to today. The jet engine had not yet been invented. This means that flying took a lot longer. It was also less fuel efficient and this meant that only wealthy people could afford to fly. Tesla hoped to develop something that would change all of that.

Tesla’s idea was an airship but with a difference. This airship would be powered by electricity and would be recharged wirelessly. The aircraft was to be so fast that it would break the sound barrier and would cut the journey time from London to New York in just three hours. Unfortunately, the plan never came to fruition.

Nikola Tesla

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