Section 1: Introduction
Nikola Tesla was born at midnight between July 9 and 10, 1856, in Similjan, a small Croatian village. Teslas father, an orthodox priest had insisted Tesla follow in his path. His mother was unschooled yet highly intelligent. Teslas brother, Dane, died at the age of twelve which upset Tesla greatly “He became unusually preoccupied with the thought of death.” (Beckhard 19), causing him to try and measure up to Dane’s accomplishments. Tesla studied in the Polytechnic institute college, in Graz, where he would first witness a Direct Current motor, “Professor Poeschl was anxious to demonstrate the motor to the class. He explained that this motor , designed by the brilliant Mr. Edison, was the only one of it’s kind. It would make it possible to someday use Direct current to light up homes and cities.” (Dommermuth 34). When Tesla observed how inefficient direct current is and in his mind he had already devised a plan, to construct a motor which will use the more efficient alternat!
ing current. When his professor heard that, he exclaimed “Mr. Tesla may accomplish great things in his life, he admonished. but he certainly will never do this. It is an impossible idea!” (36). After graduating from Graz and later from the university of Prague, Tesla set out on his own. he worked in the Continental Edison Company in Paris in the morning and at night he would hire a small shop so he could build his alternating current motor. A friend, which worked at the Edison Company saw his new motor and was amazed, he urged Tesla to go to the united states, giving him a letter to hand to Mr. Edison so that he would hire Tesla. When Tesla arrived at the United States, he had no more than 4 cents, his clothes, and a letter of recommendation for a Mr. Thomas Edison, he went to see Edison in his shop. He was hired immediately as he arrived, but after being cheated by Edison he quit. Later, he befriended Mr. George Westinghouse who had Trusted in Tesla and offered him a con!
tract, $1,000,000 for his patent rights, including the AC system of power, plus a dollar per horsepower as royalty (Kosanovic 2). Tesla accepted but years later he would dissolve it in favor of his friendship with Mr. Westinghouse. Tesla went on with his own experimentation in New York and Colorado Springs with various other subjects. As he was approaching old age, he was bankrupt again, living out the last days of his life in a hotel in New York, His Only joy coming from feeding the pigeons.
Section 2: Forgotten genius
Nikola Tesla was a very private man and very little is known about his private life and several sources often contradict on unavailing details. He was born on July 9th, 1856, in the small Croatian village of Smilijan. His father was an Orthodox priest, his mother, Djuka Mandic, never went to school in her life yet she was very intelligent “She had learned to speak German, French, and Italian, as well as her native Serbia, even though she never learned to read or write” (Walters 13) she also invented many items to keep housework easier. Tesla himself was very bright but his older brother, Dane, was considered the brilliant one in the family. Dane, died at the age of twelve through an accident of mysterious circumstances, Tesla was only 5 at the time and was adversely affected. Margaret cheney in her book noted “Anything Nikola did thereafter, he claimed, seemed dull in comparison to the promise of the dead brother. His own achievements merely caused my parents to feel thei!
r loss more keenly. So I grew up with little confidence in myself. But I was far from being considered a stupid boy” (9).
Following Danes death the family moved from the small town of Similjan to the larger, more urban, city of Gospic where he went to the Real Gymnasium, similar to a junior high, his grades were highest in his class; After graduating from the Real Gymnasium he went on to the Higher Real Gymnasium, much like a high school. Tesla was extremely talented in Mathematics and Physics due to his unique ability to memorize whole logarithmic tables and Visualize all his problems as though he wrote them out in front of him. His father wanted him to follow in his own steps and become a priest; He refused to let him continue his studies, unnecessary for a career as a clergyman. When Tesla heard that he contracted a sudden, mysterious, illness. Tesla would not heal; until, when his father granted him his wish, at the terms of his health he recovered with amazing speed Tesla went on to study in the Technical University at Graz, Austria and later at the University of Prague. At Graz he first sa!
w a Dynamo which was used as a generator and when reversed it became a motor. Wile at the university of Prague Tesla got a job in Budapest where he later visualized the principle and of the rotating magnetic field and developed plans for an alternating current motor which was the first step towards utilizing the useless, at the time, alternating current.
Tesla moved to Paris in 1882 to work at the Continental Edison Company and at night he would build his first model of the alternating current motor. In 1884 Tesla Sailed to the United States , arriving in New York, with no more than four cents and a few of his poems. He found a job with Thomas Edison at first, but friction between the two developed and he quit after a couple weeks. In May 1885 Tesla Met George Westinghouse head of the Westinghouse Electric Company, which bought the rights to many of Teslas patents at the time. The purchase of the Alternating Current system by Westinghouse led to a harsh struggle for superiority in the energy distribution business between Edison and Tesla, eventually resulting in Tesla and the alternating current triumphant. Tesla then establishes a laboratory in which he practiced enigmatic experiments which, even today, are not fully known due to his poor notes. In 1891 Tesla received his American citizenship. In 1893 Teslas alternating cur!
rent system was first publicly demonstrated at the Worlds Fair at Chicago where one generator was used to light up the whole fairgrounds, instead of the four to five direct current generators needed. Later in 1896 the Westinghouse company won a contract to build the first power generators in Niagara Falls, bearing Teslas name and patent number. He then moved to Colorado springs where he ran many interesting experiments such as lighting 200 lamps without wires 25 miles away. He also managed to produce manmade lightning 135 feet long. In 1900, he returned to New York and began constructing , on Long Island, a radio world broadcasting tower using $150,000 from an American investor, J. Pierpoint Morgan, but the project was abandoned when Morgan suddenly withdrew his funds. Tesla went back to New York to work on other projects but, due to the lack of capital his Ideas were never realized.
In 1915, Tesla was offered the Nobel Prize if he would share it with Edison, But Tesla was offended by having to share it and he turned it down. Two years later in 1917, Nikola received and accepted the Edison medal, which was the greatest honor bestowed by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. “Tesla allowed himself only a few close friends. Among them were Robert Underwood Johnson, Mark Twain, and Francis Marion Crawford” (Crawford 2) He was also Quite bad with financial matters often squandering his funds in a matter of months and his close friend and coworker, George Scherff, made an offer to Tesla which goes to show his financial situation, “Ill catch up on what I owe you, promised Nikola. Thats all right, sir. But can I loan you a little money to help you move?” (Margaret 43).
Nikola Tesla died on January 7th, in his New York city hotel. In the few years prior to his death, Tesla became extremely isolated, leaving his hotel only to feed the pigeons by the New York library, after his death, Nikolas belongings including his notebooks and research were apprehended by FBI agents and his ashes now rest inside a golden globe in the Tesla Museum in Belgrade.
Section 3: Alternating Current
It is not an easy task, to select the single accomplishment which stands out above Nikola Teslas hundreds of inventions, discoveries, and achievements, as was stated in, “Teslas greatest achievement,” “AC power and generation is most often accepted as his greatest achievement. However a disc jockey might say that it was radio. Future technology developments may lead us to say it was the bladeless turbine or the first AND logic circuit (precursor to all computers. Hard to say, he gave so much.” (Greatest achievement 1). It is hard to determine, therefore I consider it a matter of opinion, and in my opinion it has to be Teslas alternating current system, without of which generators would have to be installed for each square mile and the lights in the generators radius would vary from bright near the source to dim the farther away from the center. Alternating current on the other hand can produce electricity at much higher voltage, or pressure, and can be delivered over gre!
ater distances with almost insignificant loss. Even though, in the late 1800s direct current was spreading all over and used with Edisons incandescent light bulb, the DC (direct current) generators could only produce power at a certain voltage; Teslas AC (alternating current) generators could generate a certain voltage and then change it when it arrives at a home it is transformed to a different voltage by altering its current, therefore, machines needing large amounts of power could be used by utilizing a voltage transformer, another Tesla invention. Such machines as Televisions and fluorescent lighting use higher voltage then supplied through the plug and the voltage of the alternating current can be raised or lowered for use of small speakers or power hugging microwave ovens. In this aspect alone, Teslas AC current was simple yet significant. The way an alternating current generator works by generating a current which reverses its direction of flow many times per second!
; in the Nikola Tesla museum in Belgrade it is shown how the different systems operate, “An armature, consisting of coils of wire wrapped around an iron core is rotated in a static magnetic field. The movement of the coil, through the field, causes electric current to flow through the wires reversing its direction twice every revolution.” (Polyphase 70) the current produced in this method is called alternating current, direct current, though, is a much more cumbersome to generate but it is simpler in order to generate it “a DC motor consists of an armature, that rotates within a magnetic field” brushes on the shaft of the motor switch the direction of the flow within the wire so that it too changes its direction of flow “the current flowing through the coil generates a magnetic field opposing that of the magnets, causing the magnets to rotate the shaft.” (70) alternating current generators were much easier to build, and once built the lasted much longer with less need for re!
pair, and at the beginning of the 1900s the alternating current was beginning to take shape, already installed in the Niagara Falls and shown in the Chicago Worlds fair it had established its place as the preferred method of electric generation. Today, 113 years after Tesla constructed his first AC motor, we are using AC in almost every minute of our lives, from lights to operating radios to operating computers, if today AC would somehow be eliminated from our lives many people will find it quite impossible to continue with their everyday lives.
Section 4: Inventor, Discoverer, Prophet
At the closing of the 19th century the Continental Edison Company was just beginning to establish its dominance in the field of electricity, yet as of 1883 a new player was entering the competition, and to battle the Edison giant and its DC system came Nikola Tesla, wielding the superiority of his AC system. Some people may go as far as to say that in the field of electricity, the discovery of alternating current, equaled the invention of the wheel in mechanics. Electricity was at the time like a wild beast of immense power, yet many people found it near impossible to tame that great force. By introducing alternating current to the world, Tesla had introduced a current which in its efficiency outplayed the Edison used direct current tenfold; AC was cheaper, more powerful and had a much larger range than any type of DC could provide, AC generators were also simpler to build it enabled the spread of electrical power into less urban areas due to its larger range and it expanded!
the use of electricity in commercial enterprises due to its ability to be transformed between different voltages. The utilization of alternating current was only one of Teslas great array of inventions, inventions such as radio, electron tube (12 years before it was reproduced) and a method of insulation still used today. Teslas array of credits also included the discovery of scientific principles such as the rotating magnetic field and the mechanical resonance and predicting such things as solar energy, and world wide, wireless transmission of data and telecommunication, he came up with the concept almost fifty years before anyone else even thought of the concept. If you even attempt to imagine how such a man came up with these things, he would have to be called a prophet, and when you see the way he works, with no blueprints or plans of any kind, telling his assistance how to construct his machinery, it is nothing short of amazing. Now, if we try to think of, what woul!
d the world look like if Tesla had never existed or had never had a chance to invent the AC motor or the radio or the logical AND circuit, well what we would have is a dimmer world, we would have no use for those appliances we take for granted, food would spoil in days without a refrigerator, and without the use of simple utilities such as air conditioners, vacuums, washing machines, waste disposals, fans, a good light, even radios would be impossible without alternating current because the principle on which radios work requires AC. Teslas work, was discontinued due to his lack of funds, and the withdrawal of his benefactors interest in his “impossible” inventions, but what people did not know was that if Tesla said that he could invent something, he meant it, and that means that if he said that he could create a world broadcasting tower on Long Island and that today we would have technology much more advanced than anything we could dream of, even from his inventions b!
ack in the 1920s very few can be reproduced today, we just dont have the knowledge to understand the significance or even the principles behind much of his work. Who can tell what Tesla would do if he was alive today, he would probably marvel at the wonders of our time, catch up to our science and go on inventing things that will raise the standard of life today. In his last years Tesla had to stay in a hotel, and despite the fact that he had no laboratory, he continued to work on his inventions in his mind and by keeping notes. Reporters came to the hotel on every July 9th to hear just what the eccentric old man was working on now, Tesla was “working” on inventions such as ways to detect silent submarines, a device to photograph thoughts from the retina, obtaining power from the sun, and even a weapon that could destroy airplanes from miles away. If even a few of these inventions were true they would have had the significance to raise our technology far beyond what it is to!
day. On one of those visits, a reporter blurted out “Dont you know that in many places your words are called the babbling of senility?”, Tesla,
replied “Sir!”, He exclaimed “The worlds opinion does not concern me now. The real value of my life will be seen after I am no longer among you. Good day, gentlemen.”(cheney 213) After he died, on January 7th, 1943, all his research was impounded by an FBI agent and these papers are now locked in a vault. We have not yet heard the last of Tesla.