Forget Albert Einstein. Forget Thomas Edison. It’s Nikola Tesla you need to thank for many of the revolutionary contributions to physics we use in our daily life. I’m talking about almost everything you use in your daily life that requires electricity, including the current that runs your television, the lights that brighten your home and even the remote control that changes the channel on your television set so you can get that channel where American Idol” contestants are competing.
Tesla is often described as the most important scientist and inventor of the modern age, a man who “shed light over the face of the earth.” His patents and theoretical work formed the basis of the alternating current (AC) electric power we use today. Among other titles bestowed upon him are “The Father of Physics,” “The man who invented the twentieth century,” “the patron saint of modern electricity” and “the man who invented tomorrow.”
Tesla amazed the world when his AC electrical system lit up the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. He beat out Edison for the contract. The world was forever changed.
His accomplishments and contributions are so great that I can’t list them all, but among them are wireless communication (radio), AC current, Tesla coil, Tesla turbine, induction motor and rotating magnetic field. He contributed to the establishment of robotics, remote control, radar and computer science, and to the expansion of ballistics, nuclear physics and theoretical physics. He contributed to the understanding of cosmic rays and x-rays.
Tesla was also a model of what we see as the mad scientist — conducting electrifying demonstrations and designing “death” or “peace” rays. He had many eccentric personal habits. He was obsessed about cleanliness and hygiene, needed everything to be in threes and hated round objects. He loathed jewelry, particularly pearl earrings, and hated touching any hair but his own. He was enraptured with pigeons and wasn’t social, but was a good friend of Mark Twain’s and got along with many people. He was fluent in eight languages and had a photographic memory.
He feuded with other famous inventors, such as Edison, who was an early employer, and battled with Guglielmo Marconi over credit for the radio. In 1943, the United States Supreme Court credited Tesla as being the inventor of the radio.
Tesla was once one of the most highly regarded and famed scientists in the world, but now he has slipped into obscurity. Occasionally, Tesla pops back into the public eye. In the recent movie “The Prestige,” David Bowie plays Tesla as a great, if eccentric, inventor.
The rock band Tesla named itself after the inventor and is among those dedicated to restoring credit to this great scientist.
Despite all of Tesla’s patents, he was unconcerned with money and died penniless. Although he was almost a hermit in later life, he was honored in a funeral ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation declared Tesla’s papers top-secret, because of possible weapons he may have designed.
You’ve got to check out these websites and the video about Tesla.