Did you know that the radio, the alternating current or the helicopter are inventions of Nikola Tesla
The Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th century was one of those exceptional characters in history who, being able to count on the fingers of one hand, not only have a privileged mind but the ability to think beyond and be ahead of your time .
Despite the fact that Nikola Tesla’s inventions revolutionized the world, he died in oblivion and his name does not occupy the place it deserves in the history of science . We discover below the tragic biography of him and the 8 most outstanding inventions of him.
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Nikola Tesla, a life marked by fatalism
The biography of the Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla brings us closer to one of those lives marked by the combat between a tragic destiny and the mission of the visionary genius .
Born in 1856 in a remote and forgotten town in the Austro-Hungarian empire, at the age of 17 he is infected with cholera and is about to die, but after his recovery he begins a brilliant academic career that leads him, in 1884, to place himself under the orders of Thomas Ava Edison.
Until that time, Edison had gained worldwide famewith his inventions about direct current and its usefulness in providing electrical energy. Thanks to this he had managed to open several power plants and gain a portfolio of clients.
However, the visionary mind of Nikola Tesla discovered that alternating current could have more possibilities . This was shown in the long run, but his idea collided directly with the interests of Edison’s mentor, and he began a struggle between the ego and power of one and the creative ambition of another.
Since then, Nikola Tesla’s life has been marked by contradictions between his genius and the cruel consequences of power and money. Although he had a brilliant mind, the Serbian scientist was never interested in business ., and his lack of business vision in an era marked by the empire of money condemned him.
After a historic battle with Edison, he embarked on a solo path in which he had to fight against the electricity monopoly and the banking system. His determination led him to small conquests that, almost unconsciously, led him to forge the dream of his life: to invent energy and wireless communications .
For this, he built a huge high-voltage tower that should send transatlantic telephone signals without the need for cables. But once again, the lack of funding ruined his hopes.
The failure added to the blow he had received years before when Marconi stole the radio patent from him., for which he would end up receiving the Nobel Prize. Abandoned by the financial power, bankrupt and forgotten, Nikola Tesla withdrew the last years of his life in a dramatic loneliness marked by mental illness and financial ruin.
He died alone in a New York hotel room on January 7, 1943.
The 10 inventions of Nikola Tesla that changed the world
Thus, although the names of Edison or Marconi have been recorded in the history of science, their discoveries would have been impossible without the contributions of Nikola Tesla, who were authentic revolutionary inventions for their time. Here are the most relevant:
1. The alternating current
The difference between the direct current advocated by Thomas Alva Edison and the alternating current discovered by Nikola Tesla was that the latter had lower production costs and was easier to transport .
Thanks to the action of a transformer that regulates the intensity of electrical energy, Tesla managed to transmit it by combining voltage, intensity and time with a single device , and not connecting several dynamos in series as required by Edison’s direct current.
The energy of the power plants and or the electricity of our homes works thanks to the alternating current devised by Nikola Tesla.
2. The radio
In 1893, before any other scientist, Nikola Tesla presented to the National Association of Electric Light the mechanisms of the operation of the transmission of radio signals. At the time this meant a scientific revolution of the first magnitude, since it meant sending signals without the need for a cable .
However, Edison’s enemy caused the patent office to award the invention to the Italian Guglielmo Marconi in 1904 , who in 1909 would receive the Nobel Prize for his invention. Only after his death did a court of the United States Supreme Court rule in favor of returning the patent to Tesla.
Be that as it may, Tesla’s discoveries in this field were essential for the subsequent development of other devices.
3. The Tesla Coil
One of the inventions that has remained forever associated with his name is the electric coil, a high-voltage receiver made up of a series of coupled resonant electrical circuits.
It is a glass accumulator receiver between 15 and 20 centimeters around which about 80 turns of copper wire are wound. Another primary container with the same structure is placed inside, and immersed in mineral oil. With this invention Tesla intended to demonstrate the possibility of transmitting wirelessly over long distances .
Although the Tesla coil, invented in 1891, was later superseded by other inventions by Tesla himself, they are still produced today with greatpower levels that can reach many megavolts . They are used, for example, to illuminate large surfaces.
4. Free and unlimited energy
The great dream of Nikola Tesla, his great contribution to humanity, was the unlimited and free production of electrical energy for the world’s population. In a society dominated by great financial capitalism, Nikola Tesla was a philanthropist with a humanist vocation who ended up devoured by the system.
In 1901 magnate James S. Warden gave part of his land to Tesla, hoping that his power system would be consolidated into a Radio City. Tesla began building a massive 100-foot tower officially called the Wardenclyffe Tower., although it went down in history as the Tesla Tower.
From the tower he intended to emit wireless signals, with the ultimate goal of providing inexhaustible energy to the whole world. But again, his little business vision of him exhausted the patience of the billionaire JP Morgan , who ended up financing the radio broadcasts that Marconi was developing with more speed.
5. The death ray
After his death and as a smear campaign, many of his enemies considered him the creator of the ultimate weapon of mass destruction that would end the world. However, it is unlikely that the man who wanted to bring electricity to the whole world for free intended to annihilate the population.
The truth is that Tesla, drowned by economic difficulties, decided to give the Wardenclyffe Tower project a continuation with military implications: he thought that this would be financed by some State department . Furthermore, Tesla envisioned a world where all nations could use their weapon for defensive purposes.
The death ray, one of the most disturbing inventions of Nikola Tesla. | Image by: Hans Braxmeier.
His invention, called the “death ray” or “Teleforce”, was a weapon that fired a beam of microscopic particles that multiplied the destructive power of any previous weapon. It would be something like the scientific version of the laser beam gun of the superheroes in the comics.
However, due to the large investment required, it never received the necessary financing.
6. Vertical take-off and landing airplane
Not only in the field of electricity did Tesla develop his ingenuity. Also in aeronautics he had a prominent role thanks to the creation of a first helicopter prototype which the Serbian scientist assured would be very useful for the future.
In 1928 he patented a “helicopter-plane”, an airplane with a central propeller located at the top and a turbine as a precedent for the jet engine. Tesla worked for many years on it, but the sudden death of his friend, billionaire John Jacobs, in the sinking of the Titanic in 1911 prevented him from financing it.
However, he ended up patenting his invention and, much later, his work served as support for the construction of the first vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.
The histrionic character of Nikola Tesla accompanied him all his life. He was a weird guy. And as the dreams of him were being buried by the reality of financial capital, his personality was taking on more and more eccentric overtones .
His most peculiar invention was the so-called Teslascope, presented to society in 1931 on the occasion of the genius’s 75th birthday. And the ingenuity created a furor: it was neither more nor less than a receiver to establish communication with extraterrestrials .
Already in 1889 Tesla received in one of his experiments an energy flow that he interpreted as coming from another planet , and from then on he became convinced of the presence of life on Mars.
Despite the fact that this earned him the animosity of the scientific community, Tesla worked conscientiously on a device that would allow him to establish communication with an eventual alien community .
Since 1887 Nikola Tesla began to develop various experiments with X-rays, the novelty of which was the use of a tube without a receiving electrode. This worked by emitting electrons from a single electrode , so that once the electrons were released they were repelled by a high electric field near the electrode.
Tesla was also the first to warn of the dangers of working with X-rays due to the harmful effects it had on the skin of human beings. That is why he devoted several years of his study to analyzing the damage to the skin produced by X-rays.
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