Nikola Tesla Secrets – Nikola Tesla, a Serbian scientist, engineer, and inventor, was penniless and living in a small New York City hotel room by the end of his brilliant and tormented life. He spent his days in a park surrounded by the animals that mattered most to him—pigeons—and his sleepless nights in his mind calculating mathematical equations and solving scientific problems. For decades after his death in 1943, scientists and academics will be perplexed by his habit. In his imagination, he created and refined his inventions.
Tesla claimed his mind was unrivalled, and he wasn’t afraid to chastise his contemporaries, including Thomas Edison, who had once employed him. Tesla once wrote, “If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed immediately with the diligence of a bee to investigate straw after straw until he found the object of his quest.” I was a sad witness to such deeds, and I believe that a little theory and estimation might have spared him 90% of his time and effort.”
But, while his contemporaries may have lacked Tesla’s intellectual abilities, men like Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse obviously possessed the one quality that Tesla lacked: a business sense. Nikola Tesla made a dramatic effort to transform the future of connectivity and power delivery around the world in the final days of America’s Gilded Age. He persuaded J.P. Morgan that he was on the verge of a breakthrough, and the financier invested more than $150,000 in what would become a massive, futuristic, and startling tower in the heart of Long Island, New York. Wardenclyffe Tower would be Tesla’s last chance to assert the prestige and riches that had always eluded him once Tesla’s ambitions to build a worldwide wireless transmission system became public in 1898.
Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in what is now Croatia; his father, Milutin, was a Serbian Orthodox priest. He displayed the obsessiveness that perplexed and amused those around him from an early age. He had the ability to memorise entire books and keep logarithmic tables in his head. He was quick to pick up languages and could work for days and nights on just a few hours of sleep.
He began studying electrical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria, when he was 19 years old, and quickly developed himself as a top student. He got into an argument with a professor over what he thought were design defects in the direct-current (DC) motors that were being demonstrated in class. Tesla later wrote, “In attacking the issue again, I almost regretted that the fight was soon to end.” “I was bursting at the seams with energy. I didn’t approach the mission with the same resolve as other men do. It was a sacred promise for me, a matter of life and death. I figured I’d die if I didn’t succeed. I had the feeling that the war had been won. The solution was back in the recesses of my mind, but I couldn’t give it outward expression yet.”
He will spend the next six years of his life “thinking” about electromagnetic fields and an alternate-current motor that could and should operate. His emotions consumed him, and he was unable to concentrate on his studies. Tesla’s father was alerted by university professors that his son’s working and sleeping habits were killing him. Tesla, however, became a gambling addict, lost all of his tuition money, dropped out of school, and suffered a nervous breakdown rather than finishing his studies. It wasn’t going to be his last.
After recovering from his breakdown, Tesla moved to Budapest in 1881, and he was walking through a park with a friend, reciting poetry, when he had a vision. Tesla drew a rough diagram in the dirt with a stick in the park, a motor based on the theory of spinning magnetic fields formed by two or more alternating currents. Although AC electrification had been used before, until he invented his induction motor many years later, there would never be a practical, working alternating current motor.
Tesla sailed to New York City in June 1884 with four cents in his pocket and a letter of recommendation for Thomas Edison from Charles Batchelor, a former employer, which purportedly said, “My Dear Edison: I know two great men, and you are one of them.” This young man is the other!”
A meeting was set up, and after Tesla explained the engineering work he was doing, Edison hired him despite his reservations. Edison allegedly offered Tesla $50,000 if he could build on Edison’s preferred DC generation plants. Tesla told Edison within a few months that he had indeed built upon Edison’s motors. Tesla pointed out that Edison declined to pay up. “You will understand an American joke when you become a full-fledged American,” Edison told him.
Tesla then resigned and went to work digging ditches. However, it wasn’t long before word got out that Tesla’s AC motor was worth investing in, and the Western Union Company hired Tesla to work in a lab near Edison’s office, where he engineered AC power systems that are still in use today. “The motors I built there were just as I pictured them,” Tesla said. I didn’t try to change the design; instead, I simply replicated the images as they appeared to my eyes, and the operation always went as planned.”
Tesla patented his alternating current motors and control systems, which were considered the most important innovations after the telephone. Soon after, George Westinghouse, realising that Tesla’s designs could be just what he needed to dethrone Edison’s DC current, licenced his patents for $60,000 in stock, cash, and royalties based on how much electricity Westinghouse might sell, agreed to licence his patents for $60,000 in stock, cash, and royalties based on how much electricity Westinghouse might sell. He eventually won the “Battle of the Currents,” but at a high cost to both Westinghouse and Edison’s General Electric Company in lawsuits and rivalry.
Westinghouse, fearful of bankruptcy, pleaded with Tesla for a waiver of the royalty that Westinghouse had agreed to pay. He said, “Your decision decides the fate of the Westinghouse Company.” Tesla ripped up the royalty deal, walking away from millions of royalties that he was still owed and billions that would have accumulated in the future, thankful to the guy who had never attempted to defraud him. He would have been one of the world’s richest citizens, a Gilded Age titan.
His work with electricity was just one facet of his multifaceted mind. Tesla invented a strong coil capable of producing high voltages and frequencies before the turn of the century, paving the way for new types of light such as neon and fluorescent, as well as X-rays. Tesla also discovered that these coils, dubbed “Tesla Coils” after Tesla, could transmit and receive radio signals. In 1897, he applied for patents in the United States, beating Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi to the punch.
When Tesla suggested his concept of a wireless globe to J.P. Morgan, he was already working on his wireless transmission concepts. Tesla employed noted architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead, and White in New York after Morgan put up the $150,000 to instal the massive transmission tower. Tesla’s concept enchanted White as well. After all, Tesla was the man responsible for Westinghouse’s success with alternating current, and he was convincing when he spoke.
“As soon as it is over, a businessman in New York will be able to dictate orders in New York and make them appear in form at his office in London or elsewhere,” Tesla said at the time. “He would be able to dial up and speak to every telephone subscriber on the planet from his desk, with no changes to the current equipment. An inexpensive instrument, about the size of a watch, will allow its wearer to hear music or song, a political leader’s speech, an eminent scientist’s address, or an eloquent clergyman’s sermon, delivered in some other location, however far away, anywhere on land or sea. Any image, character, painting, or print can be transferred from one location to another in the same way. Millions of these instruments can be operated by a single plant of this type.”
In 1901, White got to work building Wardenclyffe Tower, but it wasn’t long until it became clear that Tesla would run out of money before it was completed. An appeal to Morgan for more funds was unsuccessful, and in the meantime, investors were rushing to back Marconi. Marconi successfully transmitted a signal from England to Newfoundland in December 1901. Tesla complained that Marconi was infringing on 17 of his patents, but the case ultimately supported Marconi, and the commercial harm had already been done. (In 1943, after Tesla’s death, the United States Supreme Court upheld Tesla’s allegations, clarifying Tesla’s position in the invention of the radio.) As a result, the Italian inventor was dubbed “the inventor of radio” and became wealthy. Wardenclyffe Tower was reduced to a 186-foot-tall relic (it was demolished in 1917), and Tesla’s worst loss led to yet another of his breakdowns. “It is not a dream,” Tesla declared, “it is a clear feat of scientific electrical engineering, just costly—blind, faint-hearted, doubting world!”
By 1912, Tesla had begun to distance himself from the sceptics. He was evidently suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder and may have been a high-functioning autistic. He became fixated on the number three and became fascinated with cleanliness; he started shaking hands with strangers and washing his hands in sets of three. At meals, he had to have 18 napkins on his table, and he had to count his steps every time he went anywhere. He appeared to have an abnormal sensitivity to sounds as well as a keen sense of sight, and he later wrote that he had “a violent aversion to women’s earrings,” and that “the sight of a pearl would almost give me a fit.”
Tesla became fixated on pigeons near the end of his life, especially a particular white female, whom he claimed to love almost as much as a human being. Tesla said that a white pigeon came to visit him through an open window at his hotel one night, and that the bird told him she was dying. He later said that he saw “two powerful beans of light” in the bird’s eyes. “Yes, it was a real light, a bright, brilliant, blinding light, more intense than the most powerful lamps in my laboratory had ever produced.” The pigeon died in his arms, and the inventor said that he felt he had completed his life’s work at that moment.
Although staying on the 33rd floor of the New Yorker Hotel, Nikola Tesla would occasionally make headlines. On his 75th birthday in 1931, he was featured on the cover of Time magazine, which featured his inventions. Tesla was also working on a “Death Beam” capable of blowing 10,000 enemy planes out of the sky, according to the New York Times in 1934. In the pursuit of world peace, he hoped to finance a prototypical defence arm, but his appeals to J.P. Morgan Jr. and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain were ignored. The Soviet Union did, however, send Tesla a $25,000 check, but the project stalled. He died in debt in 1943, despite the fact that Westinghouse had been paying his hotel room and board for years.
Nikola Tesla Secrets – 11 Facts You Didn’t Know
- Tesla was born in the Austrian Empire, now Croatia, on July 10, 1856. He was the fourth child in a family of five. He worked as a telegraph drafter and electrician after a shaky academic career in Europe before moving to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison.
- If you can’t imagine life without your television remote, thank Nikola Tesla for inventing it. Hundreds of inventions, such as the remote control, neon and fluorescent lighting, wireless communication, computers, smartphones, laser beams, x-rays, robots, and, of course, alternating current, the foundation of our modern electrical system, were developed, anticipated, or contributed to the development of by Tesla.
Tesla is a company that thrives on innovation. “My mother was an inventor of the first order and would, I believe, have done great things had she not been so removed from modern life and its many opportunities,” Tesla once wrote. She produced and patented a wide range of tools and instruments, as well as weaving the finest designs from her own spun thread.” He attributed his success to the influence of both of his parents.
- Tesla lived in New York City for 60 years, and there are still remnants of his time there. Because of its proximity to Tesla’s laboratory at 8 West 40th Street, where he worked in 1900 while constructing his now-famous Tesla Tower on Long Island, the corner of 40th Street and 6th Avenue in downtown Manhattan has been named “Nikola Tesla Corner” — with its own street sign. A plaque commemorates the Engineer’s Club, which awarded Tesla the Edison Medal on May 18, 1917, at Bryant Park Place. Tesla fed pigeons in nearby Bryant Park in his later years.
Tesla became a resident of the United States in 1891, the same year he invented the Tesla coil. Tesla coils are electrical circuits that produce low-current, high-voltage electricity. They can also be used in radios, televisions, and other electronic devices, as well as being used for wireless transmission. Tesla’s experimental station in Colorado Springs, Colorado, produced 30-foot sparks visible from a distance of ten miles.
- During the war of the currents, Tesla’s preferred alternating current (AC) battled Edison’s preferred direct current (DC) for widespread acceptance. The foundation for the entire nation’s electrical grid was at stake. Edison began a campaign against AC, arguing that it was unsafe and could kill people; Tesla responded by publicly exposing himself to 250,000-volt shocks to demonstrate the safety of AC. In the end, alternating current triumphed.
- In Niagara Falls, New York, Tesla engineered the first hydroelectric power plant, harnessing the power of the waterfalls he had admired since childhood. On Nov. 16, 1896, electricity was first delivered to homes in neighbouring Buffalo, after a three-year construction period. Today, a statue of Tesla stands on Goat Island, overlooking the falls.
- Tesla is the name of a device used to calculate the strength of magnetic fields. Tesla Motors, an electric car start-up, is also named after Tesla, in honour of his involvement in the invention of the electric motor.
- In 1901, J. Pierpont Morgan helped Tesla fund the construction of his Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham, Long Island. The “Tesla Tower,” a 185-foot building with a 65-foot copper dome transmitter on top, was part of the facility. Tesla’s vision was to use the tower to relay signals and provide cheap, limitless wireless energy to the entire world. Wireless energy transmission is finally being realised today, thanks to Tesla’s early work, from wireless chargers for electric toothbrushes and smartphones to wireless electric vehicle charging, which is being researched at the Energy Department’s National Labs.
- Despite his accomplishments, Tesla was a shrewd businessman who struggled financially. He lost Morgan’s financial backing when he realised he couldn’t benefit from Tesla’s wireless electricity idea, and he sold his properties to cover two Wardenclyffe foreclosures. A film manufacturing firm bought the property later. Tesla’s partially completed tower was destroyed by the US government in 1917 because it was feared that German spies might use it to intercept messages during World War I.
- His now-abandoned Long Island laboratory will be turned into a museum in the near future. A non-profit group collected enough money earlier this year to buy the long-abandoned Wardenclyffe. The organisation intends to rebuild the structure and convert it into a Tesla museum and science education centre.