Technology

Nikola Tesla’s Birthday: Great Mind Turns 162

Nikola Tesla’s birthday
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Nikola Tesla, a world-class scientist, who vastly contributed to the rapid development in engineering, science and technology in the last 100 years is 162 today. In this article, we highlighted a little biography, followed by his most famous inventions to pay a tribute to Nikola Tesla’s birthday.

Who was Nikola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American physicist, inventor, engineer and futurist who was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, in Austrian Empire (modern Croatia.) After attending an advanced education in engineering and physics between 1870s and 1880, he worked at Continental Edison which was a new electric power industry, after emigrating to the United States in 1884. For a short time, he was working on building a new electrical circuit at the Edison Machine Works in New York City before he decided to go after his own ideas and invention.

One of his biggest ideas was focusing on providing wireless electricity worldwide, as he was testing wireless electric power distribution during his power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs. He also worked on the Wardenclyffe Tower project, that unfortunately went unfinished because he ran out of funding.

He died in New York City in January 1943. He ran out of funding and died in poverty in a New York hotel. His work was forgotten after his death, to be restored in 1960 as a result of the General Conference on Weights and Measures honoring the SI unit of magnetic flux density after him.

Nikola Tesla’s Birthday: Tesla’s 5 best inventions

  1. Alternating Current

While Tesla didn’t directly invent the alternating current circuit, it’s worth noting that his vast contribution led to electricity being used the way it is used today. Alternating current (AC) was more advanced compared to direct current (DC) and was sufficient for powering the entire world. As mentioned above, in the early days of his career, Tesla worked for Thomas Edison who had developed DC.

With alternating current, Tesla solved the problem of DC’s widespreading, as the electricity was running out of power the farther it was getting. AC is not only capable of sending power out and spreading it to multiple power units, but also coming back to its source, which was a more efficient and flexible way of using electricity.

However, Edison wasn’t really fond of AC, thinking that Tesla’s idea was wrong, which led to a “war” between the two.

  1. Induction Motor

Another invention important to note on Nikola Tesla’s birthday is an induction motor that utilizes alternating current and consists of two parts essential for its function – stator and rotor. Like its name suggests, stator is in a fixed position and doesn’t move. It uses electromagnets that help spin its mobile compound rotor which is located in the middle of the induction motor.

The reason induction motors became popular is because they were durable and extremely easy to maintain, while being money-efficient. During 1880s, aside from Tesla, Galileo Ferrari was working on an induction motor separately, and they both presented it in 1888. Even though Ferrari presented his work two months before Tesla, Tesla’s patent was filed first, with both ideas presenting the same technology. The induction motor is widely used even now and can be found in many everyday products such as vacuums, blowdriers and different power and handy electrical tools.

  1. The Tesla coil

Nikola Tesla invented the Tesla coil in 1891. The invention consists of two coils, a primary and a secondary. Both are equipped with their own capacitor, an electrical component that is similar to a battery and can store energy. The coils are bound to a spark gap, a gap of open air where the spark is generated when the power is let in. The coil is capable of shooting lighting bolts, sending electrical currents through the body, as well as create electron winds. The idea for the Tesla coil came as Tesla had an idea with powering cities wirelessly.

Nowadays, the Tesla coil is used widely for entertainment and can be found in museums and science centers. Nevertheless, some parts of it can be found in radios. Above everything, the Tesla Coil served to help scientists and engineers determine the nature of electricity and how to use it practically.

  1. Neon lamps

Fluorescent and neon lights weren’t directly discovered by Tesla, but thanks to his contributions and advancements they are widely used today. Tesla saw an opportunity in using cathode rays to power the lamps. Tesla was experimenting by running electrical particles through gases which resulted in different types of lighting being presented.

During his experiments, he successfully converted black light into a visible light particle thanks to a phosphorescent substance that he made on his own. He applied this technology when developing lamps and neon lights.

He presented unique designs at the World’s Columbian Exposition, that is also known as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. After his presentation, neon lights gained popularity and are widely used today in the world.

  1. The Adams Power Plant Transformer House

The last invention we will highlight on Nikola Tesla’s birthday is the Adams Power Plant Transformer House. Initially, the Niagara Falls Commission was searching for a genius that would develop a hydroelectric plant, capable of harnessing the power of the falls and distribute the energy to the city and wanted to choose Thomas Edison’s DC plant.

However, Tesla’s AC circuit left a big impression on them. Westinghouse was offered a contract in 1893 and used Tesla’s designs, however keeping up with such a large project and funding was quite a challenging task and many people doubted it would really work.

Nevertheless, after the big switch was flipped on November 16, 1896, the project turned out to be a success and managed to power Buffalo, New York. Years passed, and ten more generations of the power plant were build, which resulted in New York City being powered too. The Adams Power Plant Transformer House is now the first standard after which the modern hydroelectric power plants were inspired.

Do you honor Nikola Tesla’s birthday? What is your favorite invention of his?