The Serbian inventor, also referred to as the Leonardo da Vinci of physics, was born 167 years ago.
On July 10, we celebrate the scientist of Serbian origin, Nikola Tesla who is also referred to as the Leonardo da Vinci of physics. The name of the genius, who was well ahead of his time, is associated with 146 patented inventions, such as alternating current, the radio, the modern electric motor or remote control. Not only his life journey, but also the legacy he left to us contains many interesting things, which we are now enjoying!
Born under lightning
Tesla, the man whose inventions revolved around electricity, was born during a lightning strike around midnight on July 10, 1856. Legend has it that the midwife who helped Tesla’s mother declared that lightning was a bad omen and that Tesla would be a child of darkness. To this his mother said: “No, he will be a child of light”.
The Hungarian thread
After the loss of his father, Tesla dropped out of college and moved to Pomáz, Hungary, to live with his maternal uncle. He met Tivadar Puskás in Budapest. Here, he became an employee of the American Telephone Company, operated by Edison, and was appointed chief engineer of the Budapest telephone exchange under Puskás’ direction, and then, on his recommendation, he was also hired at the company’s Paris headquarters.
Drawing in the sand
The following is an unconfirmed urban legend, but it is so deeply embedded in the history of the relationship between Tesla and Hungary that another he was also commemorated on a mural in Budapest. According to the story, at the time when Tesla lived in Hungary, one afternoon he was walking in the Városliget in Budapest with his friend Antal Szigeti. While he was quoting from Faust, the solution for the further development of the DC motor suddenly dawned on him. Then, with a stick, he first drew the sketch of the alternating current dynamo and motor in the sand, which is still the most commonly used drive device today.
AC vs. direct current, or Tesla vs. Edison
Tesla got a job at Thomas Edison’s company, but the two difficult inventors could not cooperate for long. Tesla felt that he had been defrauded financially, but there was an even greater tension between the two of them: while Edison swore by direct current, Tesla swore by alternating current, which could be delivered better. They did not shy away from the ugliest methods to convince the decision-makers and the population of the correctness of their own invention.
Who was the winner?
Tesla was also famous for his spectacular demonstrations, where he tried to dispel fears about alternating current by passing electricity through his own body. In 1893, the illumination of the Chicago World’s Fair was solved with his system, and following its success, he was commissioned to design the Niagara Power System, which supplied the city of Buffalo with electricity. In the end, Tesla and alternating current won the contest, which was often conducted with non-gendered devices.
To whom we can thank the radio
Most people think that the invention of the radio is due to Giuseppe Marconi, but this is not true. Tesla was the first to use grounding, which significantly increased the range of spark telegraphs on both the transmitter and receiver side. He then patented the radio (receiver) device, published his sketches of the basics of data transmission, before his former assistant, Guglielmo Marconi, broadcast the first transatlantic radio signal. Only 40 years later, in 1943, half a year after Tesla’s death, the Supreme Court awarded the right to the patent to the Serbian inventor.
On the wings of imagination
Tesla first created his ideas only in his head and put them together in his imagination. He only drew the final state. He had a photographic memory. Unfortunately, none of his original inventions remain, as a result of a still unexplained fire, they all burned to dust. He held back many of his inventions because he felt that humanity was not yet ready for them.
Tesla, the not easy man
Tesla’s senses were extremely sophisticated, but he was prone to neurosis, he was obsessed with cleanliness, he hated many things, such as round objects, human hair, or pearl earrings. He was only willing to stay in a room whose number was divisible by three – this was his favorite number – and he always checked the size of the food before meals. At the end of his life, only pigeons were his best friends.
Tesla, the visionary
Tesla was a visionary of the technological development of the future. He predicted smartphones, Wi-Fi, self-driving cars and the possible rise of artificial intelligence. When Tesla received the Edison Medal in 1917, one of his colleagues said the following about him: “Suffice it to say that if we were to seize and remove from our world the results of Nikola Tesla’s work, the wheels of industry would not turn, our cars and trains would stop, our cities would be dark , our mills would be dead and idle.”
Although the technical genius suffered a lot with financial difficulties and a lack of fame during his life, his work and inventions are now recognized worldwide and carry on his legacy: in 1960, the SI unit of magnetic induction (symbol T) was named Tesla, and in 2003, his legacy was presented to UNESCO became part of its documentation world heritage. The Tesla car brand and the Czech Tesla smart home brand bear his name. The latter company your smart security camera can now be yours for free.