If someone organizes a debate, among a panel of physicists, over naming the most underappreciated genius in the world of technology, It is highly likely that they would eventually agree on the name: Nikola Tesla. Most of you would recognize him because of a car brand is named after him or from a few movie references such as ‘Prestige’ or ‘The Current War: Director’s cut’ but he was one of the best inventors of the world.
He was a Serbian who moved to New York City, U.S. in 1884, where he spent most of the life. With his great knowledge and astonishing vision, he held the patents of almost 300 inventions. He designed the basis of modern AC electricity, one of fundamental thing in our daily lives when the world was chasing DC.
“There’s not a lot of modern conveniences that we currently enjoy that weren’t touched by Nikola Tesla in some way,” Marc Alessi, director of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in New York, once said to CNN. “If Tesla didn’t accelerate the AC system, we would be 50 years behind technologically than where we are today.”
Moreover, Tesla’s inventions were not limited to just AC electricity, he also pioneered many technologies related to Radios, X-Rays, Neon Signs, motors and various other fields. He also worked for Thomas Edison, who is said to be the inventor of DC electricity, and played a key role in establishing the electricity network.
“He was working 20 hour days, and the whole time he was saying ‘let’s switch to AC, it will work better,” said Alessi. “But Edison never paid him the money and claimed the promise was a joke. Tesla quit and he ended up in a battle with Edison.”
Marconi is recalled as the inventor of radio but in fact, he used technology, from 17 of Tesla’s patents, to send the first radio transmission and because of this, his patent was revoked by the United States Supreme court, in 1943.
Teleautomaton was the earliest remote control that he created in 1898 and he controlled a miniature boat from afar at the time of demonstration, that rendered that people amazed and speechless. Moreover, he was the one who took the first X-ray images of the human body that he called ‘shadowgraphs’. He also said that X-rays could be harmful to the human body. Sadly, this is another field where nobody gives him credit. He also pioneered the hydroelectric technology so that when the first hydroelectric station was established at Niagra Falls, 9 out of the 12 patents used were his.
“As a child, when his uncle read him a book about Niagara Falls, the first thing he thought was about energy. That water falling is energy,” Alessi said. “At the dawn of our using fossil fuels for the industrial revolution, Tesla was already saying ‘That’s not the way we should go. That’s dirty and finite.’ ”
Apart from the patents and inventions, there are several stories and myths are prevalent about Tesla and it is often said that he also harnessed the mystery of teleportation and made a few ships disappeared with it.