This is part 2 of a 2 part series on the eccentric and amazing Nikola Tesla. For the back story check out part 1.
Imagine a world without every piece of technology that you use every day. Smartphones, t.v. remote controls, radios, x-ray machines, lasers, and even cars. Today we even have an innovative and ground breaking car company named after him. Hell, why don’t we just throw it out there…imagine we lived still in a preindustrial age- a world without electricity.
Education comes in all forms. And after Tesla left his formal education he never stopped learning. From his travels throughout Europe that awakened his imagination and creativity to his travels to the U.S. Tesla never forgot the importance of learning, challenging yourself, and growing.
With a letter of recommendation from one of Thomas Edison’s European partners and less than ten cents in his pocket Tesla went to work for Edison, addressing and correcting problems associated with Edison’s direct current system of electricity. Tesla was convinced alternating current was a better system, needing less power stations and having the ability to travel long distances through power lines.
But, Edison would hear none of it. After all, the system he was establishing in New York was already based on the direct current system, and change over, even if better, would be costly and time-consuming.
Tesla, continually butting heads with Edison, eventually left and formed his own company. He quickly went to work developing the motor he had been dreaming of for years. Within a year Tesla patented 40 different pieces of the motor and its necessary components.
Shortly after, in 1888, he sold all of the patents to Westinghouse Company with an attached royalty so that the motors could be produced on a massive scale. The real value of his motor and electricity was realized at the world fair, and then in a system of hydroelectric turbines at Niagara Falls. People finally saw the life-changing power of electricity and how much better it was than Edison’s system.
When hard times threatened to destroy Westinghouse Tesla ripped up his royalty agreement, something that would be worth hundreds of trillions of dollars today. He wanted to make the world better for his fellow-men beyond all else, even buckets of money. Henceforth, the empire and the A/C current became tied to Westinghouse and not the original inventor Tesla.
Reaching a high point, Tesla worked tirelessly to constantly invent. His next big project was wireless communication. He fiddled for years, playing around with whatever struck his fancy. He patented a system of wireless communication, the same system used in radios, transmitters, remote controls, satellites, telephones, etc. today. But once he had designed the product he lost interest, and began working on something he deemed far greater, the transfer of energy through the air to other parts of the world.
In the meantime a sneaky Italian named Marconi was also working on wireless communication. Upon arriving in the US Marconi was rejected by the patent office for his designs because they were based on Tesla’s models. Marconi left, returning to the UK where he used Tesla’s designs in his own products, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. patent office, and succeeded in beaming a wireless signal 3.7 miles across the Bristol Channel in Wales.
In the States, Tesla merely laughed, “he is using all of my equipment after all.” But, Tesla’s laughing would quickly end as the U.S. Patent office would reverse its earlier decision and grant Marconi patents for his designs. Tesla tried to sue, but didn’t have the capital to take on the large corporation that Marconi had formed. Henceforth, Marconi is commonly credited with the invention of the radio, and wireless signal even though the U.S. patent office would eventually rescind Marconi’s patents, saying they infringed on Tesla’s patents.
But, it was too little too late and the damage was already done. Even today, Tesla is nothing more than a footnote, or worse “a previous experimenter” in biographies about Marconi.
Putting the past behind him Tesla continued delving into his curiosity, producing such results as the Tesla coil. Although he was convinced this machine would eventually be responsible for transferring huge amounts of energy wirelessly across continents, Tesla never found a practical solution.
His belief that the world was filled with energy that could be harnessed and used as a free resource the world over kept Tesla moving forward. Two of the more interesting projects he worked on were a death ray and a machine capable of forming weather patterns.
Towards the end of his life he tried selling his idea of a working death ray to several countries, but never found a buyer. The ray would have the ability to strike a bolts of lightning at enemy aircraft, tanks and invading armies, leveling any offensive. The day he died he was actually supposed to meet with high level officials in the U.S. government to explore the idea further.
After his death U.S. officials seized everything in his apartment as a matter of national security. His papers on the death ray proved, allegedly, inconclusive. Some of his research and work may have been used in the 1980’s, though, when the U.S. developed a satellite program that would use lasers to destroy enemy missiles.
The second interesting project that Tesla never found a solution to was weather manipulation. Knowing that the world was filled with energy he thought it possible to send high-energy waves into the atmosphere to control the weather. Today, the U.S. military has a whole branch HAARP devoted to testing these ideas. Or, rather, they have been continually testing for about 80 years now.
With what we know about the world today, HAARP was developed as a way to explore the possibility of ionic manipulation. The ionosphere is a layer in the Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs solar radiation from the sun. These layers get charged by electricity, and the thinking is that by affecting the charge of these layers you can affect the weather patterns worldwide. This was Tesla’s vision, to manipulate the world climate for the betterment of all, that as of today has not been realized.
Nikola Tesla Museum- After the U.S. confiscated Tesla’s work, combed through it, and copied anything valuable, they returned it to his home country. In Belgrade, Serbia lies a museum filled with all of this research, journals, papers, etc.
Tesla Museum of America- If traveling to Serbia seems like too far of a trip you can always check out the Tesla Coil and Laboratory in Colorado Springs that Tesla built with funding from J.P. Morgan.
Chicago Museum of Science and Industry- No individual has shaped the modern state of our world more than Nikola Tesla. Find out more about his Tesla Coil and his A/C current at this museum.
Nikola Tesla documentary Free on Youtube.