Here at Edulab, we’re mad about everything scientific, from providing top-quality laboratory glassware to discussing some of our favourite scientific minds. One of our all-star hall of famers happens to be the man behind alternative current electricity; the man with a coil to his name, Nikola Tesla. But who was he?
Born on July 10, 1856, in what is now Croatia, Nikola Tesla cemented his place in history for his contributions to science - contributions that are still used today. Tesla’s interest in electrical invention began at an early age, with his mother inventing small household appliances in her spare time. Pressured by his father to join the priesthood, Tesla asserted his dreams for science by enrolling at the University of Prague in the 1870s. After graduating, he moved to Budapest but found there was little interest in his ideas so opted to move to America to work for Thomas Edison, whose DC-based electrical works were fast becoming the standard in the country. After taking Tesla on, the two great inventors worked shoulder to shoulder for a short time before parting ways due to a conflicting business-scientific relationship.
In 1885, Tesla received funding to set up the Tesla Electric Light Company and was tasked by his investors to develop improved arc lighting. The project was a success but Tesla was forced out and had to work as a labourer in order to survive. When the year of 1887 rolled in, Tesla’s luck changed when new interest was sparked in his AC electrical system and he found new funding for his company. By the end of that year, Tesla had successfully filed several patents for AC-based inventions.
His AC system eventually caught the eye of American engineer and business man George Westinghouse, who wanted to supply the nation with long-distance power. Convinced Tesla could help him achieve that goal, he purchased his patents for $60,000 in cash and stock. This relationship put the two men in direct conflict with Edison, who launched several negative PR campaigns in order to hinder their progress.
It wasn’t until 1893, that Tesla’s inventions would really take off when he demonstrated his AC system at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After powering the city of Buffalo in 1895, the alternating-current system would quickly become the favoured system of the 20th century, and it has remained that way world-wide ever since.
So what did he invent?
From Kirlian photography, which is said to have ability to document life force, to what we now use in medical diagnostics, this was a revolutionary invention in which Tesla played a central role. The idea of the x-ray stemmed from Tesla’s belief that we need to develop real-world devices to augment our innate perception of existence.
Tesla’s achievement with the electric motor has finally been popularised by a car brandishing his name. It has been predicted that Tesla’s electric motor would have freed mankind of its stranglehold of oil use, but due to the economic crisis and the world war that followed, it would be a long time before anyone saw the true potential of this invention.
This is perhaps the best example of an invention being used for both good and not so good purposes. It’s true that lasers have transformed surgical applications in an undeniably beneficial way, and they have given rise to much of our current digital media. However, they have also been used to create Ronald Reagan’s laser defence system and develop weapons such as laser rifles and directed energy ‘death rays’.
So you can see why Tesla is regarded as one of the giants in the scientific community as it’s not only his inventions that are still the subject of scientific inspiration, but also his dedication to putting science above all else, something which his competitors, like Edison, can’t claim to have done.
If you’re the next great scientific mind and would like to know more about our services, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our friendly team today, and we will be happy to help you with your enquiries.