- Created: Tuesday, 20 March 2012 00:00
- Written by Joe
Featured on S01E43 of the ChefDiddy.com podcast.
- The guy behind modern electricity (that's AC or Alternating Current)
- Feuded with Thomas Edison who backed DC (that's Direct Current)
- Credited with creating / inventing:
- High Frequency Induction Furnace and Heating
- Neon and Fluorescent Lighting
- Artificial Lightening
- Modern Day Broadcasting
Read More for his his full bio and audio clip from the podcast
Born July 10 1856
Died January 7 1943
Was born in Smiljan which is in Croatia
In 1882 he moved to Paris and on June 6, 1884 he moved to New York City at the age of 28.
He was an important contributor to the birth of commercial electricity, and is best known for developing the modern alternating current (AC) electrical supply system.
Tesla's patents and theoretical work also formed the basis of wireless communication and the radio.
Here's an overview of what the man did:
Electric Power - Alternating Current
In the early 1890s, Tesla discovered the "rotating magnetic field produced by two or more alternating currents out of step with each other.
Based on this discovery, Tesla proceeded to invent the prototypes of almost all practical alternating current motors and the whole polyphase system for generating, transmitting, and distributing electric current as well.
Today, practically all electricity in the world is generated, transmitted, and turned into mechanical power by means of the Tesla Polyphase System. Without this system, the giant steam-electric power plants in our big cities and the big hydroelectric protects such as TVA, Boulder Dam, Grand Coulee, would be impossible.
This leads directly into this interesting fact:
He Feuded Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison is a famous US inventor and a BIG backer of DC or Direct Current. Back when Tesla, who was backed by Westinghouse, came out with AC (alternating current), Thomas Edison was going to lose some money… Unlike DC, AC could be stepped up to very high voltages with transformers, sent over thinner and cheaper wires, and stepped down again at the destination for distribution to users. In 1887 there were 121 Edison power stations in the United States delivering DC electricity to customers. (Money in Edison's pocket)When the limitations of DC were discussed by the public, Edison launched a propaganda campaign to convince people that AC was far too dangerous to use.
The problem with DC was that the power plants could economically deliver DC electricity only to customers within about one and a half miles (about 2.4 km) from the generating station, so that it was suitable only for central business districts. When George Westinghouse suggested using high-voltage AC instead, as it could carry electricity hundreds of miles with marginal loss of power, Edison waged a "War of Currents" to prevent AC from being adopted.The war against AC led Edison to become involved in the development and promotion of the electric chair (using AC) as an attempt to portray AC to have greater lethal potential than DC. As part of this campaign, Edison's employees publicly electrocuted animals to demonstrate the dangers of AC
In 1903, Edison's workers electrocuted Topsy the elephant at Luna Park, near Coney Island, after the elephant had killed several men and her owners wanted her put to death. Edison's company filmed the electrocution. This was all to no avail as soon, the benefits of AC to DC were way to obvious, and soon DC was extinct. Shortly before he died, Edison is quoted as saying his biggest mistake was to pursue DC instead of the obviously far superior AC that was pursued by Tesla.FYI; When Edison died and a local newspaper was getting quotes about Thomas Edison, the only negative one came from Tesla. Part of his quote: I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labor.
- Before 1897, Tesla devised boats, cars, and other movable objects that could be maneuvered completely by radio waves.
- He demonstrated these widely in New York in 1898, and before the Commercial Club in Chicago in 1899.
- This was the beginning of the concept which has led to today's guided missiles.
High Frequency Induction Furnace and Heating
- In 1916, Dr. Edwin Northrup devised his first commercial high-frequency furnace
- Before this, you had no real way to get heat...
- He has said that his inspiration for this was based on the old ideas and circuits of Tesla.
- Tesla developed apparatus for producing high voltage, high frequency "Tesla currents."
- He demonstrated on himself that very high voltages could be taken safely into the human body provided the frequencies were high enough.
- Soon after, adapted by D'Arsonval and others, the Tesla apparatus became the basic tool of high-frequency electro-therapeutics
Neon and Fluorescent Lighting
- Before 1893, Tesla devised all kinds of wirelessly-lit vacuum and gas-filled tubes.
- He increased the brilliance of some by using uranium glass or coating them with phosphors - thus creating fluorescent tubes.
- He bent many to suit the requirements of the room they were to light, and others to form words or names just as we do in modern display lighting.
- Tesla displayed some of his neon-type tubes in his personal exhibit at the 1893 World's Fair.
- At his Colorado Springs laboratory in 1899 and 1900, Tesla produced artificial lightning crashes of many millions of volts and up to 135 feet long - a feat never since equalled.
Synchronous Electric Clocks
- August 25, 1893, at the Chicago Fair, he demonstrated several synchronous electric clocks.
- He mentioned cheap synchronous clocks all over the world which would be powered and kept in step by a single master generator in the United States.
- No one put such clocks into commercial use until about 1916.
- As another promise for his "World Wireless,. of 1900, Tesla proposed: "The interconnection and operation of all the telephone exchanges on the globe; the world transmission of typed or hand-written characters, letters, checks, etc.; the ininauguration of a system of world printing; the world reproduction of photographs and all kinds of drawings or records."
- Prof. Arthur Korn, who actually sent the first pictures by wireless, credits Tesla with some of his system.
- At the turn of the century, Tesla also said this of his system: "I have no doubt that it will prove very efficient in enlightening the masses, particularly in still uncivilized countries and less accessible regions, and that it will add materially to general safety, comfort and convenience, and maintenance of peaceful relations. It involves the employment of a number of plants, all of which are capable of transmitting individualized signals to the uttermost confines of the earth. Each of them will be preferably located near some important center of civilization and the news it receives through any channel will be flashed to all points of the globe. A cheap and simple device, which might be carried in one's pocket, may then be set up somewhere on sea or land, where it will record the world's news or such special messages as may be intended for it."
The Tesla Coil
- A Tesla coil is an electrical device based on a type of resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891.
- It is used to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency alternating current electricity. Tesla used these coils 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 coil circuits were used commercially in sparkgap radio transmitters for wireless telegraphy until the 1920s, and in pseudomedical equipment such as electrotherapy and violet ray devices.
- Today their main use is for entertainment and educational displays.
Now that we know a little of what he did professionally, let's take a quick look at what he was like personally
- Tesla developed a passion for (and became very proficient at) billiards, chess and card-playing, sometimes spending more than 48 hours in a stretch at a gaming table.Tesla by nature required little sleep, claiming to never sleep more than two hours. On one occasion at his laboratory Tesla worked for a period of 84 hours without sleep or rest.
- He did things in threes, and was adamant about staying in a hotel room with a number divisible by three. Tesla was physically revolted by jewelry, notably pearl earrings. He was obsessed about cleanliness and hygiene
- He was celibate and claimed that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities.
- He openly expressed his disgust for overweight people, once firing a secretary because of her weight. He was quick to criticize others' clothing as well, on several occasions directing a subordinate to go home and change her dress.
- Tesla was widely known for his great showmanship, presenting his innovations and demonstrations to the public as an artform, almost like a magician. This seems to conflict with his observed reclusiveness; Tesla was a complicated figure. He refused to hold conventions without his Tesla coil blasting electricity throughout the room, despite the audience often being terrified, though he assured them everything was perfectly safe.
Listen to the podcast segment here:
Download it directly by going to this link: Historical Badass Download