Nikola Tesla, famed and mysterious scientist,
inventor and proponent of the AC current system, the Tesla Coil
and some believe the inventor of the death ray and free electricity for all!
Nikola Tesla was born in the Austrian Empire in 1856 in what is Croatia today.
His father was an Orthodox priest who wanted his son to enter the same profession
but Nikola was only interested in science.
His mother invented labour saving devices in her spare time
and Tesla credited her as being the source of his inventiveness.
Around the age of 17 he fell ill and was in bed for 9 months.
His father promised to send him to the best science education
if he recovered from the illness.
He excelled in his first year at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz
earning the highest grades possible.
He was fascinated by the mysterious phenomena of electricity in his classes
and wanted to know more of this wonderful force.
He worked incredibly hard, barely sleeping.
A trait that he was to keep throughout his life.
His teachers even wrote to Tesla’s family warning that he could die from overwork.
In subsequent years though, he lost his scholarship
and became addicted to gambling, losing his entire allowance.
Poor financial management was another trait that would hound Tesla in his later years.
When it came time for his exams Tesla was unprepared.
He asked for more time but it was refused.
So he dropped out of his studies and never graduated.
Tesla got himself back on his feet after a few years
and started work at the Budapest telephone exchange as Chief Electrician
where he invented and perfected a telephone amplifier.
He then went to work for the Continental Edison Company in Paris.
There he was working on a new innovation. Electric lighting.
在那里 他正在进行一项新的创新—— 电气照明
His skills got him noticed and soon he found himself
heading to New York to work for Edison.
In New York he was assigned to improving and repairing generators.
After fixing the generators of the SS Oregon all throughout the night
he happened to run into Edison.
Edison joked, “I see our Parisian has been out all night!”.
Tesla explained that he’d been working on the repairs for SS Oregon
at which point Edison conceded to his colleague: this is a darn good man!”
Tesla started working on an arc lighting system for Edison.
But it was never implemented.
Tesla left their employment shortly afterwards.
There was talk of unpaid bonuses and disparaging remarks from Edison.
Tesla marked his departure by scribbling across two pages of his diary
“Goodbye to the Edison Machine Works.
Tesla founded his own company, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing
and established a number of patents.
Even though it had the Tesla name,
the reality was that the company was financed by two businessmen.
When they decided to abandon manufacture and set up a new company,
it left Tesla destitute and penniless.
During 1886 he had to work as a ditch digger just to survive.
He wrote of the time: “My high education in various branches of science,
他这样描述当时 “我在科学 机械和文学领域受过的高等教育
mechanics and literature seemed to me like a mockery”
However Tesla soon got himself back on his feet with the invention of a new motor
that ran on alternating current or AC which was eventually bought by Westinghouse.
Tesla was a champion of AC and was hired by Westinghouse
for $2000 per month and given a hefty bonus.
Westinghouse Electric Company was founded by George Westinghouse
and based their technology on AC.
In the late 1880s and early 1890s
a fierce commercial battle was going on between Edison and Westinghouse.
Known as “The Battle of the Currents”
many unsavoury publicity stunts were made by Edison
trying to prove that AC was unsafe.
But we’ll not confront that particular Elephant in the room for now…
Tesla became very wealthy and now had enough money
to fund his own research, hiring staff and opening workshops.
This was the golden age of Tesla’s inventiveness.
In 1891 at the age of 35 he became a US citizen.
That same year he patented the Tesla Coil.
He experimented with a system of wireless lighting.
Giving several public demonstrations
but he never received commercial backing for the project.
At one demonstration he told onlookers that a system like this could transmit
“intelligible signals or power to any distance without the use of wires”.
The thought that wireless power could encompass the globe
was an idea that Tesla devoted much time and research to.
He started research on wireless telegraphy
and in his laboratory observed strange signals
which he thought came from another planet.
He wrote to the press in 1899 and 1890
and an article was published entitled “Talking With Planets”
More recently speculators think he may have unintentionally picked up signals
from Marconi’s experiments that were happening around the same time.
Tesla threw his money into the wireless telegraphy research
and borrowed heavily from JP Morgan.
However Marconi’s radio based system which Tesla thought was in part copied
from his designs was the first to transmit a message across the Atlantic.
After that, investors preferred Marconi’s system
… Which left Tesla once again without funds.
In 1906 it’s speculated Tesla had a nervous breakdown.
From 1900 Tesla had lived in the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
In 1922 he moved to the St Regis Hotel.
Leaving his Waldorf Astoria bill unpaid.
After that he moved from hotel to hotel leaving his bills unpaid.
He liked feeding the pigeons from the windows of his hotel room.
Despite issues with money he spent over $2000
building a device to heal the bones of a sick pigeon.
He said ,”There was one, a beautiful bird, pure white
with light grey tips on its wings. It was a female.
I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me.
I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman,
and she loved me.
As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.”
Tesla never married explaining that it would get in the way of his scientific abilities.
When Tesla was 75 he was friends with a young science fiction writer
called Kenneth Swezey who organized regular birthday parties for Tesla.
The press would be invited.
At one party Tesla announced that he had invented a motor that ran on cosmic rays
that would run for 500 years and a machine to photograph thoughts.
He also announced that he had invented a “peace ray” which he called teleforce
that could bring down 10,000 airplanes at 200 miles distance.
When later questioned on his experiments he replied:
“But it is not an experiment… I have built, demonstrated and used it.
Only a little time will pass before I can give it to the world.”
Nikola Tesla died alone in his hotel room in 1943 at the age of 86
and his ashes are displayed in a gold-plated sphere in the Nikola Tesla Museum.
Two days after Tesla’s death
the FBI ordered the seizure of his belongings.
An MIT Professor John Trump analysed the items.
He reported after 3 days deliberation that
there was “nothing that would constitute a hazard in unfriendly hands.”
Someone clean that up!”
“Never work with children or animals,
that’s what they say at R.A.D.A.”
Nikola Tesla, famed and mysterious scientist,