Happy Birthday Nikola
July 8, 2011 in Pioneer
July 10 is Nikola Tesla Day. Not many people have heard of this man before or know what he did. Nikola Tesla is the forgotten genius of electricity. He invented the alternating-current generator that provides the electricity, the transformer through which it is sent, and even the high voltage coil of your picture tube. The Tesla Coil is used in radios, televisions and a wide range of other electronic equipment. Every time we turned on a light, or a radio, or operate a remote control is because of Nikola Tesla.
A true visionary in the field of scientific development, he registered over 700 patents worldwide. The patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, electrical distribution and the AC motor. His alternating current induction motor is one of the ten greatest discoveries of all time.
Beside developing the first AC motor, the radio, the Tesla Coil, vacuum tubes, X-rays, and hydroelectric generators, Tesla can also claim fame to the loudspeaker, fluorescent lights, radar, rotary engine, microwaves, diathermy, remote radio control and the list goes on. He envision solar energy, the power of the sea, interplanetary communications and satellites.
The awards and honors bestowed on Tesla are too many to list here. Some noteworthy examples are the SI unit measuring magnetic field, the tesla, was named in his honor (at the CGPM, Paris, 1960). At Tesla’s 75th birthday in 1931, Time Magazine put him on its cover. On this occasion, Tesla received congratulatory letters from more than 70 pioneers in science and engineering including Albert Einstein. He was given honorary doctoral degrees by Columbia and Yale University and the Elliot Cresson medal by the Franklin Institute. And the list goes on.
Other notable qualities of this man were that he held the position of the vice-president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, known today as the IEEE. He could speak several languages fluently, along with Serbian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian and Latin. Had the uncanny ability to visualize an invention with extreme precision, including all dimensions, before moving on to the construction stage.
Tesla’s patent to A/C was bought by the founder of the Westinghouse Electric Company. At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (World’s Fair), together they illuminated the Exposition. They also installed the first power machinery at Niagara Falls, bearing Tesla’s name and patent numbers, to carry power to Buffalo. Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat to the public during an electrical exhibition at Madison Square Gardens. He devised an “electric igniter” or spark plug for internal combustion gasoline engines.
His most ambitious undertaking was the Wardenclyffe Tower project. It was planned to be the first broadcast system transmitting both signal and unlimited power without wires to any point on the globe. He intended it to be a world system for transmitting electrical energy using the electrical conductivity of the earth. Tesla intended to give away this free-energy.
“Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity.” -NIKOLA TESLA
However, it would be Tesla’s greatest disappointment and a loss to the entire world.
Upon learning of Tesla intentions, his investor (JP Morgan/banker) pulled his funding insuring the Wardenclyffe Tower project would go unfinished. The financier’s classic comment was, “If anyone can draw on the power, where do we put the meter?” For better or worst, that single decision change the course of history. The project was abandon and eventually torn down in 1917 for wartime (national security) reasons. Tesla went on to conceive and develop other various devices. Remember, he was credited with over 700 patents, but most were unrealized due to lack of funds and he never regained the momentum he had before the Wardenclyffe Tower project.
For a time, Tesla was not able to find other work, so he was forced to dig ditches for two years. But at the height of his fame, he rubbed elbows with the likes of Mark Twain. He also sparked the interest of individuals who tried to discredit, ruin and derail his tremendous achievements.
The bizarre lack of recognition of Tesla has made him a tragic and inspirational character. Ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist by many late in his life, he appears in popular culture as a character in books, films, radio, TV, music, live theatre, comics, video games and other various products. The impact of the technologies invented by Tesla is a recurring theme in several types of sci-fi.
Tesla died on January 7th, 1943 of heart failure, alone and destitute in a shabby hotel room. That is the official story. Some are highly suspicious of this official story. One reason being how his property was immediately impounded by the United States Government, even though Tesla was a naturalized citizen. J. Edgar Hoover declared the case most secret (national security), because of the nature of Tesla’s inventions and patents. His effects consisted of contents of his safe, truckloads of papers and apparatus’s, numerous packing crates and large storage trunks containing diplomas, honors, letters and lab notes. It’s said that several “federal officials” spent two days microfilming some of the material at the Office of Alien Properties storage facility.
Eventually, his effects were inherited by Sava Kosanovich, Tesla’s nephew, to be later housed in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.
“The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of a planter — for the future. His duty is to lay foundation of those who are to come and point the way.”
- Nikola Tesla
Some believe today’s technologies like weather modification and pulse weaponry resulted from Tesla’s life long work. No doubt, he was a “person of interest”!
Large numbers of people attended his state funeral, including several Nobel Laureates. Condolences were received from many notables, including first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Vice President Wallace. He was cremated. His ashes are interned in a golden sphere permanently displayed at the Tesla Museum in Belgrade along with his death mask.
The Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre located in his birthplace, features a statue of Tesla. Monuments to Tesla were put at Niagara Falls, New York as well as other places here and abroad. Many United States Congressmen gave speeches in the House of Representatives celebrating the 134th anniversary of scientist-inventor Nikola Tesla. New York State and many other states in the USA proclaimed July 10, Tesla’s birthday- Nikola Tesla Day. According to Life Magazine’s special issue of September, 1997, Tesla is among the 100 most famous people of the last 1,000 years.
So why would a scientific genius with all his notoriety, who demonstrated wireless energy transfer and aspired to intercontinental wireless transmission (free-energy) of power, remain in obscurity? Good question. Regardless, Nikola Tesla is indisputably the father of alternating current, power generation/transmission and then some!
“The world will wait a long time for Nikola Tesla’s equal in achievement and imagination.” – E. ARMSTRONG