A D V E N T U R E S in C Y B E R S O U N DNikola Tesla : 1856 - 1943
The brilliant inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla developed the alternating-current (AC) power system that provides electricity for homes and buildings. Tesla was granted more than 100 United States patents. Many of his discoveries led to electronic developments for which other scientists were honoured.
Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan, Croatia, then part of Austria- Hungary, on July 9, 1856. He was often sick during his boyhood, but he was a bright student with a photographic memory. Against his father' s wishes he chose a career in electrical engineering. After his graduation from the University of Prague in 1880, Tesla worked as a telephone engineer in Budapest, Hungary. By 1882 he had devised an AC power system to replace the weak direct-current (DC) generators and motors then in use.
Tesla moved to the United States in 1884. Thomas Edison hired the young engineer as an assistant upon his arrival. Friction soon developed between the two, and by 1886 Tesla had lost his job. In 1887 he received enough money from backers to build a laboratory of his own in New York City.
Tesla became a United States citizen in 1889. A year earlier he had received a patent for his AC power system. At the heart of this system was the efficient polyphase induction motor that he developed. George Westinghouse bought the patent rights from Tesla. Westinghouse then launched the campaign that established alternating current as the prime electrical power supply in the United States. Tesla later invented a high-frequency transformer, called the Tesla coil, which made AC power transmission practical. He also experimented with radio and designed an electronic tube for use as the detector in a voice radio system almost 20 years before Lee De Forest developed a similar device.
Tesla lectured before large audiences of scientists in the United States and Europe between the years 1891 and 1893. Although Tesla had laid the theoretical basis for radio communication as early as 1892, Guglielmo Marconi claimed all basic radio patents because of his own pioneering work in the field. In 1915 Tesla made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a court injunction against the claims of Marconi. When the United States Supreme Court reviewed this decision in 1943, however, it reversed the decision and invalidated Marconi' s patents on the ground that they had indeed been anticipated by earlier work.
Tesla and Edison supposedly had been chosen to share a Nobel prize in physics. According to the report, Tesla declined his share of the award because of his doubt that Edison was a scientist in the strictest sense. Neither of them ever received the prize. During his later years he led a secluded, eccentric, and often destitute life, nearly forgotten by the world he believed would someday honour him. Tesla died on Jan. 7, 1943, in New York City. The Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, was dedicated to the inventor. In 1956 the tesla, a unit of magnetic flux density in the metric system, was named in his honour.
Nikola Tesla was born at precisely midnight between July 9/10, 1856, in the village of Smiljan, province of Lika (Austria-Hungary). His father, the Reverend Milutin Tesla, was a Serbian-Orthodox priest; his mother, Djuka (Mandich), was unschooled but highly intelligent. Both families came originally from western Serbia and for generations had sent their sons to serve Church or Army and their daughters to marry ministers or officers.
A dreamer with a poetic touch, as he matured, Tesla added to these earlier qualities those of self-discipline and a desire for precision.
Training for an engineering career, he attended the Technical University of Graz, Austria, and the University of Prague (1879-1880). At Graz he first saw the Gramme dynamo, which operated as a generator and, when reversed, became an electric motor; and he conceived a way to use alternating current to advantage.
His first employment was in a government telegraph engineering office in Budapest, where he made his first invention, a telephone repeater. Later, he visualized the principle of the rotating magnetic field and developed plans for an induction motor, that would become his first step toward the successful utilization of alternating current. In 1882 Tesla went to work in Paris for the Continental Edison Company, and while on assignment to Strasbourg in 1883, he constructed, in after-work hours, his first induction motor.
Tesla sailed to America in 1884, arriving in New York City with four cents in his pocket, a few of his own poems, and calculations for a flying machine. He first found employment with Thomas Edison in New Jersey, but the two inventors, were far apart in background and methods, and their separation was inevitable.
In May 1885, George Westinghouse, head of the Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh, bought the patent rights to Tesla's polyphase system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors. The transaction precipitated a titanic power struggle between Edison's direct-current systems and the Tesla-Westinghouse alternating-current approach, which eventually won out.
After a difficult period, during which Tesla invented but lost his rights to an arc-lighting system, he established his own laboratory in New York City in 1887, where his inventive mind could be given free rein. He experimented with shadowgraphs similar to those that later were to be used by Wilhelm Röntgen when he discovered X-rays in 1895. Tesla's countless experiments included work on a carbon button lamp, on the power of electrical resonance, and on various types of lighting.
Tesla gave exhibitions in his laboratory in which he lighted lamps without wires by allowing electricity to flow through his body, to allay fears of alternating current. He was often invited to lecture at home and abroad.
The Tesla coil, which he invented in 1891, is widely used today in radio and television sets and other electronic equipment for wireless communication. That year also marked the date of Tesla's United States citizenship.
Brilliant and eccentric, Tesla was then at the peak of his inventive powers. He produced in rapid succession the induction motor (utilizing his rotating magnetic field principle) and other electrical motors, new forms of generators and tranformers, and a system of alternating-current power transmission. Tesla also invented fluorescent lights and a new type of steam turbine, and he became increasingly intrigued with the wireless transmission of power.
A controversy between alternating-current and direct-current advocates raged in 1880s and 1890s, featuring Tesla and Edison as leaders in the rival camps. The advantages of the polyphase alternating-current system, as developed by Tesla, soon became apparent, however, particularly for long-distance power transmission.
Westinghouse used Tesla's system to light the World Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. His success was a factor in winning him the contract to install the first power machinery at Niagara Falls, which bore Tesla's name and pattent numbers. The project carried power to Buffalo by 1896.
In 1898 Tesla announced his invention of a teleautomatic boat guided by remote control. When skepticism was voiced, Tesla proved his claims for it before a crowd in Madison Square Garden.
In Colorado Springs, where he stayed from May 1899 until early 1900, Tesla made what he regarded as his most important discovery - terrestrial stationary waves. By this discovery he proved that the earth could be used as a conductor and would be as responsive as a tuning fork to electrical vibrations of a certain pitch.
He also lighted 200 lamps without wires from a distance of 25 miles (40 kilometres) and created man-made lightning, producing flashes measuring 135 feet (41 metres). At one time he was certain he had received signals from another planet in his Colorado laboratory, a claim that was met with derision in some scientific journals.
Returning to New York in 1900, Tesla began construction on Long Island of a wireless world broadcasting tower, with $150,000 capital from the U.S. financier J. Pierpont Morgan. Tesla claimed he secured the loan by assigning 51 percent of his patent rights of telephony and telegraphy to Morgan. He expected to provide worldwide communication and to furnish facilities for sending pictures, messages, weather warnings, and stock reports. The project was abandoned because of a financial panic, labour troubles, and Morgan's withdrawal of support. It was Tesla's greatest defeat.
Tesla's work shifted to turbines and other projects. Because of a lack of funds, his ideas remained in his notebooks, which are still examined by engineers for unexploited clues. In 1915 he was severely disappointed when a report that he and Edison were to share the Nobel Prize proved erroneous. Tesla was the recipient of the Edison Medal in 1917, the highest honour that the American Institute of Electrical Engineers could bestow.
Tesla allowed himself only a few close friends. Among them were the writers Robert Underwood Johnson, Mark Twain, and Francis Marion Crawford. He was quite impractical in financial matters. An eccentric, driven by compulsions and a progressive germ phobia, Tesla had a way of intuitively sensing hidden scientific secrets and employing his inventive talent to prove his hypotheses.
He was a godsend to reporters who sought sensational copy, but a problem to editors who were uncertain how seriously his futuristic prophecies should be regarded. Caustic criticism greeted his speculations concerning communication with other planets, his assertions that he could split the earth like an apple, and his claim to having invented a death ray capable of destroying 10,000 airplanes, 250 miles (400 kilometres) distant.
Tesla demanded much of his employees but inspired their loyalty. Though he admired intellectual and beautiful women, he had no time to become involved.
Tesla died in New York City on January 7, 1943, the holder of more than 700 patents. The Custodian of Alien Property impounded his trunks, which held his papers, his diplomas and other honours, his letters, and his laboratory notes. These were eventually inherited by Tesla's nephew, Sava Kosanovich, and later housed in the Nikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Hundreds filed into New York City's Cathedral of St. John the Divine for his funeral services, and a flood of messages acknowledged the loss of a great genius. Three Nobel Prize winners in physics (Millikan, Compton, and W.H. Barton) addressed their tribute to:
"one of the outstanding intellects of the world who paved the way for many of the technological developments of modern times."Selected Quotes used by ISO_UFO Book
...on Einstein and the unified field theory...
I (R. Daniel Woolman) want to take a moment to look back in time almost 100 years. The period of 1892 through 1894. It was during that period that Tesla had found time to give serious thought to yet another type of problem, matter and energy; and from it he derived what he described as a new physical principle. This he developed to the point at which he was able to propound a new dynamic theory of gravity.
While this principle guided much of his thinking, he did not make any announcements concerning it until close to the end of his life. Such disclosures as have been made, however, leave this much obvious: Tesla considered his theory wholly inconsistent with the theory of relativity, and with the modern theory concerning the structure of the atom and the mutual inter-conversion of matter and energy. Tesla continually attacked the validity of Einstein's work; and until two or three years before his death, he ridiculed the belief that energy could be obtained from matter.
The only statement Tesla made concerning his principle and his theory is that contained in a lecture he prepared for delivery before the Institute of Immigrant Welfare (May 12, 1938). In this he stated:
"During the succeeding two years (1893 and 1894) of intense concentration I was fortunate enough to make two far reaching discoveries. The first was a dynamic theory of gravity, which I have worked out in all details and hope to give to the world very soon. It explains the cues of this force and the motions of the heavenly bodies under its influence so satisfactorily that it will put an end to idle speculation and false conceptions, as that of curved space.Tesla's mind was inflexible in the manner of his attitude toward relativity and the modern theories. Had he published his principle and theory of gravity at the beginning of the century it would, without doubt, have then received serious consideration and perhaps general acceptance, although it is difficult to make an intelligent surmise without knowledge of his postulates. If published, it might have had some influence of Einstein's thinking.
The field of force which Tesla mentions as being necessary to explain the movements of the planets might have been his contribution to eliminating the need for the ether which was accomplished by Einstein's theory, The two theories might have been merged, in which case there probably would have resulted in a harmonious development of the thinking of the two geniuses.
Nikola Tesla, who discovered the rotating magnetic field, which is the basis of practically all alternating-current machinery, has been called the genius who ushered in the power age. He is also renowned for his invention of the Tesla coil, which is still used whenever anyone wants to make a spectacular display of high-voltage, high-frequency discharges.
Tesla's pioneering work in generators not only launched the power industry in the U.S. One day, at Niagara Falls, New York, he was able to generate more electricity with his machinery than the combined power of all the other generating stations then operating in the United States. He also developed for the yet-to-come wireless industry the transformers they needed to produce radio waves. Tesla went on to invent an arc-lighting system as well as innumerable dynamos, transformers, coils, condensers and other electrical apparatus.
But Tesla was no mere tinkerer. He was also a first class mathematician and physicist "whose blueprints were plausible, even though they were far ahead of the technical resources of his day." One friend said he belonged "to the passing age of heroic invention of which Edison was the most distinguished exemplar, the age of technical poets who expressed themselves in generators, inductance coils and high voltages rather than in drama and verse and who were the real architects of culture."
Tesla was born at exactly midnight on July 9, 1856, in Smiljan, Serbia. His father was a Serbian-Orthodox priest and orator, his mother Djuka Mandic, an inventor. He gave those parents a good deal of pleasure with his own early, if failed, attempts at flying. Once, he tried to fly, puffing his cheeks and unfurling an umbrella, by jumping off the roof of a barn. He ended up in a heap on the ground below, unconscious for a few moments, but unhurt.
He also experimented with a sixteen-bug-power flying machine, a light contraption made of splinters forming a windmill, with a spindle and pulley attached to live June bugs. When the glued insects beat their wings, as they did desperately, the bug-power engine was supposed to take off. Young Nikola abandoned this line of research forever when a young friend dropped by who fancied the taste of June bugs. Noticing a jarful standing near, he began eating them. Nikola threw up.
Nikola received a good mathematical education in his homeland, then began his engineering education at the Technical University of Graz, Austria, and, in 1879 and 1880, the University of Prague. His first employment was in a government telegraph engineering office in Budapest, where he put together his first invention, a telephone repeater.
Later, he visualized the principle of the rotating magnetic field and developed plans for an induction motor, that would become his first step toward the successful utilization of alternating current. In 1882 Tesla went to work in Paris for the Continental Edison Company, and while on assignment to Strasbourg in 1883, he constructed, in after-work hours, his first induction motor.
In 1884, he set sail for the United States. At the age of 27, he stepped off the boat at the Battery in New York City with four cents in his pocket, some calculations for a flying machine, and a few of his own poems. He got immediate proof that America was indeed a land of opportunity. As he walked up Broadway, he met a group of workmen trying to repair an electric motor. They paid him $20 to fix it.
Tesla had come to the U.S. with high hopes of landing a job with Thomas Edison. Edison recognized his talent, and put him to work immediately at his lab in West Orange, New Jersey, designing motors and generators which would make wireless radio transmission possible, at a time when Marconi had yet to make his mark.
In May 1885, George Westinghouse, head of the Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh, bought the patent rights to Tesla's polyphase system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors. The transaction precipitated a titanic power struggle between Edison's direct-current systems and the Tesla-Westinghouse alternating-current approach. Eventually, Westinghouse, and Tesla, won out. Westinghouse used Tesla's system to light the World Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. His success was a factor in winning him the contract to install the first power machinery at Niagara Falls, which bore Tesla's name and patent numbers. The project carried power to Buffalo by 1896.
After a difficult period, during which Tesla invented but lost his rights to an arc-lighting system, he established his own laboratory in New York City, where his inventive mind could be given free rein. He experimented with shadowgraphs similar to those that later were to be used by Wilhelm Roentgen when he discovered X-rays in 1895. Tesla's countless experiments included work on a carbon button lamp, on the power of electrical resonance, and on various types of lighting, including what later became fluorescent lighting.
Tesla preferred his workshop to society. He never married, ate sparingly, slept three hours a night and did not drink coffee or tea. Working as hard as he did, Tesla finally had enough inventions under patent to assure him the security he needed to go on for the rest of his life as "a lone scientist" with big ideas, many of which proved to be far ahead of his time. He eventually held 700 patents. His Tesla coil is widely used even today in radio and television sets and other electronic equipment for wireless communication.
In Colorado Springs, where he stayed from May 1899 until early 1900, Tesla made what he regarded as his most important discovery, terrestrial stationary waves. By this discovery he proved that the earth could be used as a conductor and would be as responsive as a tuning fork to electrical vibrations of a certain pitch. He also lighted 200 lamps without wires from a distance of 25 miles (40 kilometers) and created man-made lightning, producing flashes measuring 135 feet (41 meters).
Returning to New York in 1900, Tesla was talking about "wireless communication to any point on the globe" as he was beginning construction on Long Island of a wireless world broadcasting tower, with $150,000 capital from the U.S. financier J. Pierpont Morgan. Tesla claimed he secured the loan by assigning 51 percent of his patent rights of telephony and telegraphy to Morgan. He expected to provide worldwide communication and to furnish facilities for sending pictures, messages, weather warnings, and stock reports. The project was abandoned because of a financial panic, labor troubles, and Morgan's withdrawal of support. It was Tesla's greatest defeat.
Almost 40 years later, Tesla still had large dreams. On his 78th birthday, he announced that he had invented a "death beam" powerful enough to destroy 10,000 airplanes at a distance of 250 miles and annihilate an army of one million soldiers in an instant, which, (in the words of tribute given Tesla by the Institute of Radio Engineers after his death on January 7, 1943) was one those "brilliant concepts, idealized dreams and aspirations so lofty as to be foredoomed."
A Serbian visitor to the U.S. once found a book of poems in the Chicago Public Library, written by the popular Serbian poet, Zmaj-Jovan, translated into English by Nikola Tesla. Later, when this visitor was taken to meet Tesla in his New York offices on the twentieth floor of the Metropolitan Tower, he said, "Mr. Tesla, I did not know that you were interested in poetry." Tesla smiled wryly. "There are many of us Serbs who sing," he said, "but there is nobody to listen to us."
One wonders whether anyone was listening when Tesla indulged in his ruminations about metaphysics. He did ponder some ultimate questions, notably in his last interview with a New York writer, and we cite them here, not because they compel automatic assent, but because it is interesting to see that this inventor of huge dynamos could not help speculating about ultimates that could not be measured by a volt-meter.
In that last interview, he said,
"Everyone must have ideals. If they do not...."; He shook his head in despair, then went on to talk about religion.
Tesla allowed himself only a few close friends. Among them were the writers Robert Underwood Johnson, Mark Twain, and Francis Marion Crawford. He was quite impractical in financial matters. An eccentric, driven by compulsions and a progressive germ phobia, Tesla had a way of intuitively sensing hidden scientific secrets and employing his inventive talent to prove his hypotheses. He was a godsend to reporters who sought sensational copy, but a problem to editors who were uncertain how seriously his futuristic prophecies should be regarded.
Tesla's papers, his diplomas and other honors, his letters, and his laboratory notes were eventually inherited by Tesla's nephew, Sava Kosanovich, and later housed in the Nikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Nikola Tesla, (b: July 10, 1857 d: January 7, 1943 Smiljam, Serbia New York, N.Y.) through his wide range of electrical experiments and discoveries, became one of the world,s foremost electricians. His invention of the induction motor and the Tesla coil and his discovery of the rotary magnetic field principle won him widespread recognition as "the electrical wizard" of the nineties.
His father was a Greek clergyman and orator; his mother, Georgina Mandic, was an inventor. Mathematics was Tesla's forte; theories and high-frequency currents his delights. Young Nikola's education began with one year in elementary school, four years of the lower Realschule at Gospic, Lika, and then a higher school at Carlstadt, Croatia, from which he was graduated in 1873.
He studied for four years at the Polytechnic School at Gratz, devoting most of his time to mathematics, physics and mechanics, and subsequently had two years at the University of Prague, where he studied philosophy. At Gratz, he had seen Z. T. Gramme's electrical dynamo armature. Struck with the objections to the use of commutators and brushes on dynamo-electric machines, he determined to remedy that "defect" and to simplify the machine.
While employed by the Austrian government in its telegraph engi- neering division, Tesla made his first practical invention a telephone repeater. Later he engaged in electrical engineering in Budapest. In 1881 he went to Paris, where he worked as an electrical engineer, and the following year he moved to Strasbourg.
Attracted to America by the remarkable progress of the electrical industry, the twenty-seven-year-old Tesla, with four cents in his pocket, stepped off the boat at the Battery in 1884. America as a land of opportunity was soon apparent, for as he walked up Broadway he met a group of workmen trying to repair an electric motor. They paid him $20 to fix it.
Tesla, like many a foreign enthusiast in electricity who came to these shores, arrived with high hopes of finding work with Edison. His luck continued; Edison gave him a job in the laboratory at Orange, New Jersey, designing motors and generators. Before long a proposal was made that Tesla start his own company.
Early in 1887 the Tesla Electric Company was formed, but it was not a financial success. It was in 1888, however, that Tesla produced his epoch-making motors for alternating current. His system of electrical conversion and distribution by oscillatory discharges was developed the following year, and in 1891 the famous Tesla coil, or transformer, was introduced; also he demonstrated the principle of tuning at Columbia University.
He devised a system of wireless transmission in 1893 and began to talk about transmitting power through the air. He developed the principle of the rotary magnetic field embodied in early power transmission at Niagara Falls, and invented an arc-lighting system as well as innumerable dynamos, transformers, coils, condensers and other electrical apparatus.
In 1895, at Niagara, his new method for generating electricity (alternating current) for transmission over long distances produced 100,000 hp,an output of electrical energy equaling that of all other generating stations operating at the time in the United States. The press observed that "the electric revolution has started"
Tesla was no tinkerer. He was recognized as a first-class mathematician and physicist..."whose blueprints were plausible, even though they were far ahead of the technical resources of his day".
"He belonged, as a friend remarked,to the passing age of heroic invention of which Edison was the most distinguished exemplar, the age of technical poets who expressed themselves in generators, inductance coils and high voltages rather than in drama or verse and who were the real architects of culture".Tesla was called "the lone scientist", a wizard to some, a fanatical prophet to others; always his vivid images were of the future. When Hertz demonstrated that electromagnetic waves could be reflected by means of reflectors, he was far ahead of his time in the science of radio-location. But it remained for Tesla to recognize and to point out the practical application of the radio "echo", so vital in the Second World War.
Describing his 1889 method and transmission of wireless energy in (the Journal) 'Century' (June, 1900), he said:
"That communication without wires to any point of the globe is practical with such apparatus would need no demonstration, but through a discovery which I made I obtained absolute certitude. Popularly explained, it is exactly this:That was Tesla the prophet at his best, revealing one of his vivid images of the future.
"Light cannot be anything else but a longitudinal disturbance in the ether, involving ultimate compressions and rarefactions. In other words, light can be nothing else than a sound wave in the ether. As a matter of fact radio transmitters emit nothing else but sound waves in the ether. The shorter the waves the more penetrative they become."When Tesla patents were brought forward in the court (1914) as prior to Marconi's "four circuit" tuner, the court stated the im- possibility of obtaining wireless communication with apparatus such as Tesla described. By calculation it was shown that the local oscillatory circuits of the Tesla transmitter were vibrating at a wavelength of 1,200 meters, while the elevated wire (antenna) which he suggested would be somewhere in the vicinity of six or seven miles in height, and would have a natural wavelength of 28,000 to 56,000 meters. Therefore, it could not be tuned by the apparatus with which Tesla proposed to pick up the signals.
As winner of the Edison Medal in 1916, he was said to be "power-minded" rather than "communication-minded". Transmission of power by wireless was his big dream. He felt that "anyone could communicate by wireless, it was a task already understood". As he advanced in years, Tesla's ideas bordered increasingly on the fantastic. On his seventy-eighth birthday he announced that he had invented a "death beam" powerful enough to destroy 10,000 airplanes at a distance of 250 miles and annihilate an army of 1,000,000 soldiers instantaneously.
In his late seventies Tesla said that he expected to live beyond 140. At the age of 86, with more than 700 patents to his credit, he died as he had spent the last years of his life, alone in the New York hotel room which he had made his home. Death had brought to an end an engineering career of unique and unconventional nature, and the Institute of Radio Engineers in final tribute observed: "He consistently lived in a land of brilliant concepts, idealized dreams and aspirations so lofty as to be foredoomed. Tesla was a catalyst in the realm of technology, a daring originator, and a dreamer on a grand scale. His passing seems in a sense the end of an epoch".
Editorially, the New York Times said:
"His practical achievements were limited to the short period that began in 1886 and ended in 1903. And what achievements they were! Polyphase currents and alternating current engineering, applied against the opposition of Lord Kelvin and Edison in the first hydroelectric plant of Niagara Falls, the induction motor, the use of oil in transformers, remarkable work in wireless at a time when Marconi had yet to make his mark, electric arcs fed by direct current in a magnetic field, later applied by Poulsen in the first radio telephone, gas-discharge lamps which were in some respects the forerunners of the neon lights that now shine on every Main Street, the medical application of high-frequency currents in what he called "electrical massage", those crucial seven years of his youth were crowded with triumphs out of which came the whole modern apparatus of high-voltage electrical engineering".Yet all this he affected to regard as of minor importance. It was the Jules Verne future that engrossed him, for which reason the last half of his life was spent in the isolation of a recluse. For forty years he lived and worked in a world of fantasy crackling with electric sparks, packed with strange towers to receive and emit energy and dreamy contrivances to give utopian man complete control of nature. It was a lonely life. If that abused word "genius" ever was applicable to any man it was to him.
Shy of manner and ascetic in his tastes, Tesla always preferred his workshop to society. He never married. He ate sparingly and drank neither coffee nor tea. On the other hand, he regarded alcohol in moderation as virtually an elixir of life. It was his habit to stay up until daylight and then to sleep only for a few hours before resuming his work.
In one of his last interviews with this author, Tesla in his eighties still dreamed of power transmission by radio. The tall, lean inventor in a cutaway coat entered the room, laid his black derby on the table and then, looking out across the skyline of New York, spoke in almost a whisper:
"There is something frightening about the universe when we consider that only our senses of sound and sight make it beautiful. Just think, the universe is darker than the darkest ink; colder than the coldest ice and more silent than a silent tomb with all bodies rushing through space at terrific speeds. What an awe-inspiring picture, isn't it? Yet it is our brain that gives merely a physical impression. Sight and sound are the only avenues through which we can perceive it all. Often I have wondered if there is a third sense which we have failed to discover. I'm afraid not" [he said after some hesitation and thought] - "If there were, we might learn more about the universe".Tesla commented on the vast change that had come over the art of invention in the streamlined era of speed. Man, he observed, had little chance to think.
"The egg of science, he said, is laid in the nest of solitude. It is providential that the youth or man of inventive mind is not "blessed" with a million dollars" [he continued]. "The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born. That is why many of the earthly miracles have had their genesis in humble surroundings. The young man need not deplore that he has no million dollars to develop an idea. It does not cost a million dollars to think; and by the thinking process the idea is created."Tesla, who hurled man-made thunderbolts in the nineties, when man marveled at such tremendous power, believed that every person, to be content, must have an ideal. And if not! He shook his head in despair at such a thought.
"Religion is simply an ideal" [ he remarked ]. "It is an ideal force that tends to free the human being from material bonds. I do not believe that matter and energy are interchangeable, any more than are the body and soul. There is just so much matter in the universe and it cannot be destroyed. As I see life on this planet, there is no individuality. It may sound ridiculous to say so, but I believe each person is but a wave passing through space, ever-changing from minute to minute as it travels along, finally, some day, just becoming dissolved."
Source: Dunlap Jr., Orrin E., 1944, Radio's One Hundred Men of Science
Nikola Tesla was an electrical inventor, and lived during the late 1800's into the mid-1900's. He was a brilliant person, yet was an enigma to practically everyone. Known for his eccentric lifestyle, Tesla never the less maintained a rather high social profile, despite his prolific inventiveness. Some of his phobias included pearl earrings worn by women, never staying in a hotel room or floor whose number was divisable by three, and insisting on a large number of napkins at every meal with which he would meticulously polish his silverware. Tesla had a good number of freinds, one of which was Mark Twain.
Tesla's main claim to fame lay with his invention of the alternating current motor. Tesla believed that alternating current was vastly superior to direct current, but the problem was the lack of a practical motor. Alternating current is practical because of the fact that it can be altered or converted to suit a variety of situations. For example, if the voltage made quite high, then the required current necessary for a specific level of power is very low. This low current then becomes very efficient when sending electrical power over very long wires. (This is the reason why the power lines running across the countryside are at very high voltages.)
Tesla also worked with radio-frequency electromagnetic waves, and despite the claims made by Marconi, actually did invent the idea of Radio as we know it today. (There are numerous patents which bear this out.) In working with radio waves, Tesla created the Tesla coil as a means to generate and receive this form of energy.
Tesla went on to experiment with actual wireless transmission of electrical power. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, he built a laboratory to develop this. The Colorado Springs lab contained the largest Tesla Coil ever built, even today. It was capable of generating some 300,000 watts of power, and could produce a bolt of lightning 130 feet long. According to local acounts, Tesla actually managed to successfully transmit about 30 to 50 thousand watts of power without wires.
Tesla was also a great mechanical engineer, and patented dozens of devices ranging from speedometers to extremely efficient electrical generators. One unique device was his bladeless turbine. Instead of using fan-type blades, Tesla's turbine utilized solid disks of metal, and relied on what is called the 'boundry-layer effect'. His turbine ran on either compressed air or steam, and was so efficient that a device held in the hand could produce well over 10 horsepower! Today, this blade-less technology is being used in a special type of non-clogging pump designed for the oil industry. (In fact, the thicker the stuff it pumps, the more efficiently it pumps it!)
Tesla had a knack for visualizing inventions in their final, finished form. He also would envision a great many other ideas and concepts, which only later in this century would come to pass. One such idea was the creation of a large ring that would encircle the earth. Built on scaffolding, once the completed, the scaffolding would be removed, and the ring would remain stationary. 20th century geosynchronous satellites work the same way.
Tesla was also responsible for a great many other inventions and devices that we take for granted today. He postulated the ability to locate objects in the air or in the ground by using radio waves. Today, we call it RADAR, and when used to peer into the human body, MRI. Tesla also created radio- control devices. His work with special gas-filled lamps set the stage for the creation of fluorescent lighting.
Tesla eventually died, literally pennyless, on January 7th, 1943. It is rather sad that a man who gave the world so much, received so little for his efforts. History books have been unkind as well. Even today, many texts still credit Marconi with the invention of radio, despite the 1934 Supreme Court ruling which awarded it to Tesla. In many parts of this country, people still refer to the electric utility as the 'Edison Company', even though they use the Tesla-Westinghouse alternating current system, NOT Edison's direct current.
At the Niagra Falls power generating station, a small statue of Tesla is purposely left unilluminated at night. It has been said that Tesla is the Forgotten Father of Technology. Tesla himself once commented "... The present is theirs. (skeptics of the day) The future, for which I really worked, is mine."