Celebrating the genius of Nikola Tesla

WEB DESK: Today marks the 168th anniversary of Nikola Tesla birth, a monumental figure in science and engineering. Let’s delve into the genius and contributions of one of humanity’s greatest minds.

Born on July 10, 1856, in the Austrian Empire (present-day Croatia), Tesla’s pioneering work in electrical engineering and electromagnetism continues to inspire and shape modern technology.

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Despite lacking formal education, Nikola Tesla made huge contributions to science that transformed the world’s understanding and application of electrical power. He revolutionised power generation and distribution globally with his seminal invention of the AC induction motor in 1887.

George Westinghouse licensed patents for this motor and Tesla’s AC systems, leading to the widespread adoption of AC over DC systems, thereby catalysing industrial and residential electrification.

Nikola Tesla solidified his reputation as a visionary engineer by demonstrating the safety and efficiency of AC power systems at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

The Serbian-American’s expertise extended to large-scale projects, including his involvement in the Niagara Falls power initiative. Advocating for a two-phase AC system, Tesla showcased its reliability in power transmission.

Despite setbacks such as the devastating laboratory fire of 1895, which destroyed invaluable research, Tesla persisted in his pursuit of innovation. He explored X-ray technology. Tesla also conducted groundbreaking experiments in wireless power transmission.

His visionary outlook included concepts like global wireless communication systems. He proposed high-altitude power transmission. These ideas continue to underpin modern electrical engineering.

The Colorado Springs experiments of 1899 exemplify Tesla’s relentless pursuit of scientific inquiry. Using a massive coil to generate megavolt electricity, Tesla produced artificial lightning and speculated on the Earth’s electrical conductive properties.

He even hypothesised about extraterrestrial signals. His demonstration of a radio-controlled boat at Madison Square Garden in 1898 foreshadowed modern remote control technology, illustrating his foresight in technological innovation.

Tesla’s ambitious Wardenclyffe project aimed to showcase wireless electricity transmission across the Atlantic. However, challenges in expanding his concept and securing additional funding, compounded by the rising prominence of Marconi’s radio technology, hindered Tesla’s efforts.

Financial difficulties culminated in the foreclosure of Wardenclyffe in 1915, a huge setback despite his enduring impact on telecommunications and electrical engineering.

In his later years, Tesla confronted personal and professional hardships, including a severe injury at the age of 81 in a New York City traffic accident in 1937.

Known for his aversion to medical intervention, Tesla never fully recovered, passing away at 86 in 1943 from coronary thrombosis at the Hotel New Yorker.

Following his death, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) scrutinised Tesla’s belongings. This included a purported “death ray” which turned out to be a routine resistance box.

Despite assessments suggesting his later work was speculative, Tesla’s visionary contributions to science and technology endure, cementing his legacy as a pioneer in electrical engineering and wireless technology.

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