Tesla, The Forgotten Scientist: Part I
[Editor: Nikola Tesla, a brilliant scientist passed away on January 7th, 1943. We bring back an excellent UWrite article from our archives]
How many of you have heard of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, or Issac Newton? Most likely, everyone has heard of these famous scientists. You know that Mr. Edison invented the light bulb and the first sound recorder, Mr. Einstein is best know for his Theory of Relativity, and Sir Issac Newton formed the Theory of Gravity.
Now, how many of you have ever heard of Nikola Tesla? Did you know that he invented fluorescent lights, AC power, and the Tesla Coil, just to name a few. Did you know he also tried to transmit electricity around the world? If you didn't know this, go ahead and read the following article. If you did know this, congratulations! You're an official science geek!
Who was Nikola Tesla?
Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856. Tesla was an immigrant from Austria-Hungary. He came to America in 1884, seeking Thomas Edison, with a letter of recommendation from a former boss that said,”I know two great men and you are one of them. This young man is the other.” Back in Austria-Hungary, Nikola had invented a new way of turning gears that used magnetic pull. This breakthrough is still used today in factories and and in everyday appliances.
His former boss was so pleased with the invention, that he sent Nikola to America to work for Thomas Edison. Soon after, Nikola was hired by Edison. Edison asked Nikola to outfit his laboratory with his new machines and he would pay him $50,000. Nikola did so, but when he went to Thomas Edison to ask for the $50,000 Edison replied,”You've got a lot to learn about an American sense of humor.” Edison didn't pay Nikola the $50,000. Right then and there, Nikola resigned and went into seclusion to invent his own creations.
Nikola Tesla, like most famous scientists, had some oddities. He couldn't stand pearl earrings! It would be like chalk scraping on a chalkboard for him. Also, he had an odd love with pigeons! He constantly took wounded pigeons and cared for them until they were better. Nikola Tesla was also crazy about the number 3! The hotel room in which he lived was always 3327, which is divisible by 3. He always wanted 9 bath towels and 9 napkins, since 3x3=9. He was also terrified of germs, and washed his hands all the time!
You have probably all heard of the florescent bulb. Guess who invented it? Nikola Tesla! He made the bulb more efficient than Edison's bulb. The Chicago World's Fair wanted to light itself up with light bulbs, Edison and Tesla both wanted to be in charge and Tesla was finally picked. But Edison didn't allow Tesla to use his light bulbs, so Tesla just made a new light bulb which was much more long-lasting and gave off better light. Tesla bested Edison at his own invention!
Who knows the difference between AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current)? At first, all electricity was carried by Edison's DC power lines. Unfortunately, DC meant that there would have to be 2 power lines going to each building. One line for carrying electricity to the building, and another one for taking the electrons back to be charged, since electricity loses most of it's power going through wires. These power lines got so bad in New York City, that parts of the city wouldn't see the sun during the day! Tesla knew there was a better way and invented AC power. AC power carried some power to the buildings but recharged at the same time by alternating positive and negative charges. Also, AC power only needed to have one power line and even allowed power plants to be built much farther apart, while DC plants needed to be placed a mile apart! AC lines were about as thin as a twig, while the DC power lines were as thick as your fist! These two factors gave Tesla the ability to tap the energy of Niagara Falls, and he did it! But think about it, without Tesla's invention of AC power, New York City wouldn't be able to have all those huge signs. The planet would be crowded by millions of wires! On top of all that, we wouldn't have power outlets if we didn't have AC.
How cool would it be to have electricity delivered right to your house, for free? Well, Tesla had ideas for transmitting electricity, pictures, sounds, and news across oceans. His idea was to build a huge Tesla Coil and have it transmit energy into the ground below, and to have receivers on homes that would pick up the electricity, pictures, and sounds. Tesla started this project, which was funded by J. P. Morgan. Tesla was very near to completion, when Marconi sent the first radio waves across the Atlantic Ocean. Morgan stopped funding Tesla, and Tesla never saw his dream come true. But, in order to send the radio waves, Marconi used 17 of Tesla's patents! So really, Tesla should have gotten most of the credit, but instead, Marconi did. When this happened, Tesla said about his invention,”The world was not prepared for it. It was too far ahead of its time. But the same laws will prevail in the end and make it a triumphant success.”
If this was interesting, please wait for the next part of this article, which will contain information about more of Nikola Tesla's creations.