Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla!
Nikola Tesla (July 10th, 1856 - 1943) symbolizes a unifying force and inspiration for all nations in the name of peace and science - he would have been 157 today. New York State and many other states in the USA proclaimed July 10, Tesla’s birthday - Nikola Tesla Day.
Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire, region of Croatia. At first, he intended to specialize in physics and mathematics, but soon he became fascinated with electricity. He began his career as an electrical engineer with a telephone company in Budapest in 1881. It was there, as Tesla was walking with a friend through the city park that the elusive solution to the rotating magnetic field flashed through his mind. With a stick, he drew a diagram in the sand explaining to his friend the principle of the induction motor. Before going to America, Tesla joined Continental Edison Company in Paris where he designed dynamos. While in Strassbourg in 1883, he privately built a prototype of the induction motor and ran it successfully. Unable to interest anyone in Europe in promoting this radical device, Tesla accepted an offer to work for Thomas Edison in New York. His childhood dream was to come to America to harness the power of Niagara Falls.
Young Nikola Tesla came to the United States in 1884 with an introduction letter from Charles Batchelor to Thomas Edison: “I know two great men,” wrote Batchelor, “one is you and the other is this young man.” Tesla spent the next 59 years of his productive life living in New York. Tesla set about improving Edison’s line of dynamos while working in Edison’s lab in New Jersey. It was here that his divergence of opinion with Edison over direct current versus alternating current began. This disagreement climaxed in the war of the currents as Edison fought a losing battle to protect his investment in direct current equipment and facilities.
In February 1882, Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, a fundamental principle in physics and the basis of nearly all devices that use alternating current. Tesla brilliantly adapted the principle of rotating magnetic field for the construction of alternating current induction motor and the polyphase system for the generation, transmission, distribution and use of electrical power.
Tesla astonished the world by demonstrating the wonders of alternating current electricity at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Alternating current became standard power in the 20th Century. This accomplishment changed the world. He designed the first hydroelectric powerplant in Niagara Falls in 1895, which was the final victory of alternating current. The achievement was covered widely in the world press, and Tesla was praised as a hero world wide. King Nikola of Montenegro conferred upon him the Order of Danilo.
Tesla was a pioneer in many fields. The Tesla coil, which he invented in 1891, is widely used today in radio and television sets and other electronic equipment. That year also marked the date of Tesla’s United States citizenship. His alternating current induction motor is considered one of the ten greatest discoveries of all time. Among his discoveries are the fluorescent light, laser beam, wireless communications, wireless transmission of electrical energy, remote control, robotics, Tesla’s turbines and vertical take off aircraft. Tesla is the father of the radio and the modern electrical transmissions systems. He registered over 700 patents worldwide. His vision included exploration of solar energy and the power of the sea. He foresaw interplanetary communications and satellites.
In Colorado Springs, where he stayed from May 1899 until 1900, Tesla made what he regarded as his most important discovery - terrestrial stationary waves. By this discovery he proved that the Earth could be used as a conductor and would be as responsive as a tuning fork to electrical vibrations of a certain frequency. He also lighted 200 lamps without wires from a distance of 25 miles( 40 kilometers) and created man-made lightning. At one time he was certain he had received signals from another planet in his Colorado laboratory, a claim that was met with disbelief in some scientific journals. In 1915, a New York Times article announced that Tesla and Edison were to share the Nobel Prize for physics. Oddly, neither man received the prize, the reason being unclear. It was rumored that Tesla refused the prize because he would not share with Edison, and because Marconi had already received his.
Tesla died on January 7th, 1943 in the Hotel New Yorker, where he had lived for the last ten years of his life. Room 3327 on the 33rd floor is the two-room suites he occupied.
In his speech presenting Tesla with the Edison medal, Vice President Behrend of the Institute of Electrical Engineers eloquently expressed the following: “Were we to seize and eliminate from our industrial world the result of Mr. Tesla’s work, the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our electric cars and trains would stop, our towns would be dark and our mills would be idle and dead. His name marks an epoch in the advance of electrical science.” Mr. Behrend ended his speech with a paraphrase of Pope’s lines on Newton: “Nature and nature’s laws lay hid by night. God said ‘Let Tesla be’ and all was light.”
Source: Tesla Memorial Society
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