Who invented the electric bulb? Thomas Alva Edison…Right? But on which type of electric current, the world is operating right now? Alternating Current (AC), of course. Though Thomas Alva Edison was one of the greatest inventors of all time, but the Alternating Current (AC) came out from another genius side named Nikola Tesla. So in this post, you will know about that genius. So without any further ado, let’s get started.
Tesla was born in Serbia on a lightning storm summer night in 1856. Tesla was a remarkable student and had the abilities to calculate complex mathematical problems without any difficulty that teachers accused him of cheating. During his teen years, he fell seriously ill, due to this he couldn’t able to walk for many months.
His father wanted him to make a priest but he wanted to study further so after recovering from his illness, his father abandoned his demand to make him a priest and agreed to continue his further studies in engineering college.
A genius (Tesla) met another genius (Edison)
Although an outstanding student, Tesla eventually withdrew from polytechnic school and ended up working for the Continental Edison Company, where he focused on electrical lighting and motors. He had a wish to meet Edison himself, for this Tesla immigrated to the U.S. in 1884.
He later claimed he was offered the sum of US$50,000 if he could improve the Edison’s DC motors design. He had put his hard work to achieve the feat, but later Edison demurred, saying, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” Tesla quit the company after six months.
Tesla developed a relationship with two businessmen that led to the founding of Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing. He filed a number of electrical patents, which he assigned to the company.
When his partners decided that they wanted to focus strictly on supplying electricity, they took the company’s intellectual property and founded another firm, leaving Tesla with nothing. Tesla reported that he then worked as a ditch digger for $2 a day.
Road to success
In 1887, Tesla met another two investors who agreed to back the formation of the Tesla Electric Company. He set up a laboratory in Manhattan, where he developed the alternating current induction motor, which solved a number of technical problems.
When Tesla demonstrated his device at an engineering meeting, the Westinghouse Company made arrangements to license the technology, providing an upfront payment and royalties on each horsepower generated.
War of Currents
The so-called “War of the Currents” was raging in the late 1880s. Thomas Edison asserted that DC was safer than AC, but George Westinghouse backed AC since DC could transmit power over long distances. When Westinghouse lacked capital, they asked Tesla to sell his patents to them, to which Tesla agreed.
In 1893, Westinghouse asked Tesla to help supply power; they’d have a huge platform for demonstrating the merits of AC. Tesla helped the fair illuminate more light bulbs that could be found in the entire city of Chicago, and wowed audiences with a variety of wonders, including an electric light that required no wires.
Later Tesla also helped Westinghouse to build the first large-scale AC power plant in the world at Niagara Falls to generate electrical power.
The popular Tesla Coil
In 1891, Nikola Tesla invented a Tesla coil which was an electrical resonant transformer circuit to produce high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency alternating-current electricity. He used these circuits to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorescence, X-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires.
Tesla coils can produce output voltages from 50 kilovolts to several million volts for large coils. The alternating current output is in the low radio frequency range, usually between 50 kHz and 1 MHz.
Tesla coil circuits were used commercially in sparkgap radio transmitters for wireless telegraphy until the 1920s and in medical equipment such as electrotherapy and violet ray devices. Today, their main use is for entertainment and educational displays, although small coils are still used as leak detectors for high vacuum systems.
Challenges along the way
In 1895, his Manhattan laboratory was devastated by a fire, which destroyed his notes and prototypes. At Madison Square Garden in 1898, he demonstrated wireless control of a boat, a stunt that many branded a hoax.
Soon after he turned his attention to the wireless transmission of electric power. He believed that his system could not only distribute electricity around the globe but also provide for worldwide wireless communication.
Seeking to test his ideas, Tesla built a laboratory in Colorado Springs. There he once drew so much power that he caused a regional power outage. He also detected signals that he claimed emanated from an extraterrestrial source.
In 1901 Tesla persuaded J.P. Morgan to invest in the construction of a tower on Long Island that he believed would justify his plan to electrify the world. Yet Tesla’s dream did not materialize, and Morgan soon withdrew funding.
“To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end” and “what we call ‘soul’ or ‘spirit,’ is nothing more than the sum of the functioning of the body. When this functioning ceases, the ‘soul’ or the ‘spirit’ ceases likewise”.
In 1909, Marconi received the Nobel Prize for the development of radio. In 1915, Tesla unsuccessfully sued Marconi, claiming infringement on his patents. However, Tesla did receive numerous honors and awards over his life.
A true freedom believer
Tesla was a 6-foot-2-inch tall remarkable person. He claimed that he had a photographic memory, which helped him memorize whole books and speak eight languages. As a result, he didn’t initially prepare drawings and plans for many of his devices.
He never married, claiming that his celibacy played an important role in his creativity. Perhaps because of his nearly fatal illness as a teenager, he also exhibited unusual phobias, such as an aversion to pearls, which led him to refuse to speak to any woman wearing them.
Mark Twain frequented his laboratory and promoted some of his inventions. Tesla enjoyed a reputation as not only a great engineer and inventor but also a philosopher and poet. On his 75th birthday, he received a congratulatory letter from Albert Einstein and was featured on the cover of Time magazine.
Tesla’s last years
Tesla spent his later years moving from place to place, his money had been long gone. Eventually, he settled in at a New York hotel, where his rent was paid by Westinghouse. Always living alone, he frequented the local park, where he was regularly seen feeding and tending to the pigeons. On the morning of Jan. 7, 1943, he was found dead in his room.
Today the name Tesla is still very much in circulation. The airport in Belgrade bears his name, as does the world’s best-known electric car and the magnetic field strength of MRI scanners is measured in Teslas.
Some interesting and amazing facts
- Spoke eight languages.
- Produced the first motor that ran on Alternating current.
- Developed the underlying technology for wireless communication over long distances.
- Held approximately 300 patents.
- Claimed to have developed a “superweapon” that would end all war.
- Tesla claimed to have developed his own physical principle regarding matter and energy
- Tesla claimed never to sleep more than two hours per night. However, he did admit to “dozing” from time to time “to recharge his batteries.”
- Tesla walked between 8 and 10 miles per day.
- He curled his toes one hundred times for each foot every night, saying that it stimulated his brain cells.
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