Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Life and Legacy of Nikola Tesla

Portrait of Nikola Tesla: Circa 1895

Today is Nikola Tesla's 157th birthday. He was born on July 10th in Serbia. He studied for three years at Austrian Polytechnic and later moved to New York to work for Thomas Edison. Tesla is well known for inventing the AC power system, the electric motor, and many other things. Many people have praised Tesla as one of the most brilliant inventors in history. Others claim that many of his postulations were merely the rantings of a mad man prone to nervous breakdowns. Despite this, no one can deny that his inventions have changed the way we live today.

Tesla Forgotten

The remote controlled boat used by Nikola Tesla at the World's Fair in Madison Gardens.
Nikola Tesla's remote controlled boat

Tesla made many contributions throughout his time in America. He helped Edison fix many problems with his DC power system before moving to Colorado to conduct his own research. According to the Tesla Memorial Society of New York, Nikola Tesla made many inventions on his own. In 1943 it was decided by the US Patent office that Tesla was indeed the inventor of the radio, not Marconi. Tesla also demonstrated the florescent light 40 years before it was officially invented at the World's Fair. Tesla is also accredited with discovering X-ray light and a remote control boat that he demonstrated in 1898. Despite this Nikola Tesla often rubbed the major figures of the time the wrong way. Both Edison and J. P. Morgan had quarrels with Tesla that led to his being discredited in many circles. This combined with his many rantings about death rays and earthquake machines later on in life made sure that he was largely tossed aside by the scientific community. It wasn't until years after his death that people began to understand the true genius of his work.

Remembering Tesla Today

Photograph of the workshop Tesla used in New York

Today Tesla is starting to be seen in a new light. Everyday we learn more and more how advanced his theories and inventions truly were. According to Active Post, At least ten of his inventions have made a large impact on modern computers, communications, medicine, and power systems. Because of this new-found appreciation, the work of Tesla is gaining a new popularity. In May, the abandoned building that once housed Tesla's workshop and his largest Tesla Coil was purchased by the Tesla Science Center in Wardenclyffe with the help of a fundraiser by Cartoonist Micheal Ihnman, according to the Huffington Post. This property is going to be restored and turned into the Tesla Museum, the first in the nation dedicated to the life and work of Nikola Tesla.

Tesla's Legacy

Tesla had a large impact on the late industrial revolution. However, many people claim that he was far ahead of his time. His theories were often brushed aside for their "impossibility".  He created patents for a transistor, which wasn't used until a half a century later, in computers! Many of his theories scared the masses with visions of death rays and splitting the world in half. In the end his work became some of the most important in American history. However, as a person he has been largely forgotten. What do you think about Tesla? Was he a visionary, who saw a future that is being created today? Or a mad man, whose ravings are better left buried? Feel free to comment below! For more articles on technology and do-it-yourself projects, please subscribe or find us on Facebook or Twitter!

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