Recently, we quoted Tesla (or so some say*), to the effect,
The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.
A new biography, Bernard Carlson’s Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, attempts to shed light on the mercurial figure:
Tesla arrived penniless in New York when he was 28 years old, in 1884, having been a brilliant, dedicated student (at one stage, his teachers thought overwork would kill him). He had proved his talent as an inventor and knew what he wanted to do with his life. Two days later, he began working at Thomas Edison’s Machine Works in Manhattan. He left after six months, indignant that his contribution to its arc-lighting system was not appreciated. Edison apparently regarded his employee as able but strange, once asking if he was a cannibal.
Tesla soon developed the great ideas that justly made his name. Following an epiphany in a Budapest park, he invented motors that worked on alternating electric current (AC) and he proved, in a long battle with Edison, that it was better to supply electrical energy using AC than direct current. By increasing the services that electrical utilities could offer, power supplied using AC allowed companies to increase the size of their systems and pursue economies of scale. It was mainly for these practical insights that he was given the posthumous honour of having a scientific unit named after him – experimenters measure the strengths of magnetic fields in teslas.
David Bowie played Tesla in The Prestige, capturing key aspects of his character, according to the biography reviewer:
* It does sound like the sort of thing he would say. Maybe the new biography will shed some light.
3 Replies to “New biography of maverick Nicola Tesla”
A little known fact about Nicola Tesla is this:
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
Excerpt: At this time, as at many other times in the past, my thoughts turned towards my Mother’s teaching. The gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. My Mother had taught me to seek all truth in the Bible; therefore I devoted the next few months to the study of this work.
One day, as I was roaming the mountains, I sought shelter from an approaching storm. The sky became overhung with heavy clouds, but somehow the rain was delayed until, all of a sudden, there was a lightening flash and a few moments after, a deluge. This observation set me thinking. It was manifest that the two phenomena were closely related, as cause and effect, and a little reflection led me to the conclusion that the electrical energy involved in the precipitation of the water was inconsiderable, the function of the lightening being much like that of a sensitive trigger. Here was a stupendous possibility of achievement. If we could produce electric effects of the required quality, this whole planet and the conditions of existence on it could be transformed. The sun raises the water of the oceans and winds drive it to distant regions where it remains in a state of most delicate balance. If it were in our power to upset it when and wherever desired, this might life sustaining stream could be at will controlled. We could irrigate arid deserts, create lakes and rivers, and provide motive power in unlimited amounts. This would be the most efficient way of harnessing the sun to the uses of man. The consummation depended on our ability to develop electric forces of the order of those in nature.
It seemed a hopeless undertaking, but I made up my mind to try it and immediately on my return to the United States in the summer of 1892, after a short visit to my friends in Watford, England; work was begun which was to me all the more attractive, because a means of the same kind was necessary for the successful transmission of energy without wires. At this time I made a further careful study of the Bible, and discovered the key in Revelation. The first gratifying result was obtained in the spring of the succeeding year, when I reaching a tension of about 100,000,000 volts—one hundred million volts — with my conical coil, which I figured was the voltage of a flash of lightening.
Note to Denyse on another topic. Have you ever discussed this issue at UD: http://www.edvul.com/voodoocorr.php
Oddly enough I’ve recently watched Tesla’s bio on youtube and working through his auto on youtube.
Edison created the use of electricity. not Tesla and thats why he’s not famous. He improved its delivery and its his credit for the great delivery of the juice.
However he was only second to Edison and so forgotten.
He had what people would call today autistic issues. Yet this focusing and memory ability gave him a advantage in figuring things out.
This is why being from a backward people made no difference. His family were very successful relative to that part of the world in those days.
He had a lot of crazy ideas too.
Yet he did contribute uniquely to the modern glory of light.
He truly mattered in science unlike celebrated people who do nothing.