Hardly forgotten of course. Yet he has been written out of school books for many years although that no longer may be true. All i do know is that i studied physics and electricity and barely was aware of him and that should have been impossible.
This story is conventional. however he hardly died broke. He just never was a spender. The other issue is that we suspect that he quit fighting the finance guys and won the support of the military and then essentially shut up. That would certainly explain their immediate interest in disappearing his papers on his death. That was no whim of the moment.
We largely understand what he was doing. His claims were all plausible and demonstrated. Like any scientist, he was limited by the tools and materials of the day. Thus the lack of useful permanent magnets made it hard to optimize his modulator..
Tesla – the Forgotten Genius
“Some day I will harness Niagara Falls.”
His birthplace was a small village called Smiijan in the country now called Yugoslavia. His father was a minister in the local church. His mother was illiterate, but was known in the village as one who had a clever and inventive mind. It is said that she invented a considerable number of labor saving devices, which could be used in the home. In later years Tesla stated that he inherited his inventive genius from his mother.
In one stupendous lifetime he gave us the whole foundation upon which to build the industrial empires of the world. It was he who invented the alternating-current motors that power every factory and production centre. He that designed the transmission systems that enabled power to be sent out over vast areas of countryside from a central generating source; the mass production systems and robot control that freed man from the slavery of labor; the basis for radio and radar, and remote control by wireless; modern lighting systems by use of high-frequency currents. The list is endless. No limit has been found to the electronic marvels which can be produced from the basic discoveries which issued from this one fertile mind. The whole world owes Tesla its future — and he has been forgotten, because he was a man who lived before his time.
Tesla was one of five children and even at an early age showed signs of a lively mind. He found that in many things he could surpass other boys of his own age, and this tended to isolate him from his contemporaries. He found it hard to find others to share in his interests and his intellectual attainments were often in advance of his years. Nevertheless, it seems that he still got up to all the other foolish escapades that young boys find to fill in their time - myself included.
One of the more dangerous ones was trying to emulate a bird. He discovered that when he breathed deeply he began to feel very light and buoyant. He considered that this discovery, plus the application of daring and an old umbrella, should suffice to free him from the pull of gravity and allow him to sail through the air with a certain amount of grace and dignity. He climbed up on the roof of a local barn with the trusty old umbrella, breathed a few deep breaths and jumped off into space. The umbrella, not being aerodynamically designed, folded inside out and Tesla carried out a very undignified plummet to the ground. This cost him six weeks in bed, and much embarrassment.
His next accomplishment was the invention of a special frog-catching hook which was immediately copied by all his friends and helped to ensure the demise of most of the frogs in the village pond.
Then followed a series of gadgets attractive to small boys, which included very efficient blowguns and popguns the size of small howitzers. Damage to local property caused the sudden end to the production of such warlike weapons, and punishment administered to the end of Tesla.
The first stage of his schooling ended in 1870, when he was fourteen. The college he attended was called the Real Gymnasium, at Gospic. Already he was showing that he was well above the average in his abilities. He continued his studies at the higher Real Gymnasium, completing the full four-year course in three years. It was at this time that he became fascinated with physics and electrical experimentation and made the decision to devote his life to electricity. His father was anxious for him to enter the ministry and make a career of the church, but finally relented and promised Nicola that he would not prevent him from having his wish.
It was at the Institute that particular insights into the mysteries of electricity by Tesla first began to show themselves. A Professor Poeschl was demonstrating a gramme machine that could be used as either a dynamo or a motor. It was run by direct current and suffered a great loss of efficiency due to sparking at the commutator. (The commutator was necessary in all direct current machines to change the flow of electricity at the correct instant to obtain rotary motion.)
The professor set up a special set of experiments to prove to Tesla that his idea was completely impractical and made the statement:
On leaving the university Tesla obtained a position with the central telegraph office in Budapest. His genius for invention was not long in being noticed and in 1881 he was placed in charge of the new telephone exchange. It was while working for this company that he had the first flash of inspiration that was to rocket him to short-lived fame.
He was walking with a friend late in the afternoon in the city park of Budapest. It was February 1882, and a glorious day. Tesla was in a particularly happy frame of mind and gave vent to his joy by prancing about, and reciting poetry. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks and exclaimed, “Watch me! Watch me reverse it.” He appeared to be in some kind of a trance and his friend got quite alarmed at his antics, believing him to be ill. When Tesla finally calmed down he said, “No, you do not understand. I have solved the problem of my alternating-current motor.” He then explained how he could see the whole concept in front of him, as if in a vision.
It was suggested by a member of the company that Tesla should emigrate to the United States and work with Edison himself. There were not many opportunities left open to him in Europe, so in 1884 the young Tesla arrived in New York with four cents in his pocket and a mind bursting with new ideas. At this stage he had already worked out the whole alternating-current electrical system in his mind. This included step-up and step-down transformers for the most economical transmission of electric power, alternators, and alternating-current motors to supply mechanical power.
He spent almost a year working for Edison, again improving and inventing new techniques for the production of the Edison dynamos Promises had been made to him, for the second time to repay him adequately for his services. It is said that Edison had undertaken to pay $50,000 to Tesla when all the improvements were completed and the machines ready for production. When the time came for settlement, Edison treated the whole thing as a joke, so the disillusioned Tesla once again resigned.
It was now 1885. The fortune he was seeking in the promised land was not to come easily. He spent a year taking any menial job he could find just to keep himself alive. At one stage he even resorted to digging ditches. The foreman on the ditch-digging project was fascinated by the visionary descriptions of the new electrical innovations that Tesla related to him, and introduced him to as executive of the company named A. K. Brown. This man had enough faith to finance an experimental laboratory at 33-35 South Fifth Avenue, New York.
Tesla set to work and in a short time had a complete demonstration of his system ready for assessment. Included were alternating current generators, motors, transformers, transmission lines and lights. After examination by Professor W. A. Anthony of Cornell University, it was announced that the Tesla system was equal is efficiency to any of the best direct-current machines then in production. In 1887 Tesla applied for full patent rights for all of his electrical inventions. This was not approved by the patent office as the considered a single patent to cover such a great array of ideas was too unwieldy. They insisted that each important section be covered by a separate patent. Within the next six months seven USA patents were granted, and in 1888 twenty-two more were to follow.
The Institute of Electrical Engineers were now aware of this genius among them and invited Tesla to give a demonstration lecture on his alternating-current system in New York. This was a tremendous success. It was now recognized by the engineers of the world that there need be no limit to the transmission of power over long distances. The way was now open to develop the whole industry beyond men’s wildest dreams.
Tesla was thirty-two when he was approached by George Westinghouse, who offered him one million dollars for all his alternating current patents, plus certain royalties. Tesla agreed, on the proviso that the royalty was to be one dollar per horsepower. Although this royalty was later withdrawn because of financial difficulties in the Westinghouse empire, a bond of mutual trust remained between these two great men for the rest of their lives. Tesla, at last, was being given the credit he deserved. America was his to conquer.
In 1890 the scientist Lord Kelvin was appointed chairman of the International Niagara Commission set up to determine the most efficient way of using the force of Niagara Falls to generate electricity. In 1892 Westinghouse won the contract for the Installation of the 5000-horsepower hydro-electric generators. The transmission system was contracted to the General Electric Company. The whole complex was designed according to the ideas of Tesla. The massive alternators with external revolving fields and internal stationary armatures were personally designed by him; the transmission line including the step-up and step-down transformers was constructed to Tesla’s two-phase concept. His childhood dream had been fulfilled — he had harnessed the power of Niagara Falls.
Now in his early thirties Tesla was a wealthy man and felt free he devote more of his time to pure research. Throughout his life he give no indication of any type of business sense. The mere making of money was never a primary object with him, and as long as he had the necessary funds to buy all the equipment he needed for his experiments he was happy. His whole makeup was that of the discoverer.
For these experiments he constructed a great range of electrical oscillators to produce high-frequency currents, and coils tuned to set frequencies or wavelengths in order to discover the characteristic of each energy level and the particular uses to which each could be applied. He found that the interlocking harmonics were similar to the musical scale and that his coils responded not only to the transmissions of the original waveforms, but resonated at harmonic intervals above and below the original frequency. He had discovered the harmonic nature of matter.
He felt ready to take the next step in the practical application of his theoretical discoveries. During an interview in 1894 he said:
One of the terminals of this source would be connected to the earth, as, for instance, the city water mains, the other to an insulated body of large surface. It is possible that the outer conducting air strata, or free space, contain an opposite charge, and that, together with the earth, they form a condenser of large capacity. In such case the period of vibration may be very low and an alternating dynamo machine might serve for the purpose of the experiment. I would then transform the current to a potential as high as it would be found possible, and connect the ends of the high tension secondary coil to the ground and to the insulated body.
But I believe this was not his prime reason, as will be demonstrated. A large barn-shaped structure was built on the site to Tesla’s specifications. It was just on 100 feet square, with sides twenty-five feet high. The roof then sloped upward to a high peak in the centre A pyramid-shaped tower extended upward from the centre peak for a height of about eighty feet through which a mast was supported reaching to a height of around 200 feet. On top of the mast was a copper ball three feet in diameter. A heavy duty wire was run from this copper ball down the mast, then connected to the large secondary coil of the electrical apparatus in the shed.
The whole system acted as a gigantic electrical pump, and enabled Tesla to cause massive discharges of energy to oscillate between the earth and the surrounding atmosphere. During his experiments with this fantastic piece of equipment he caused huge bolts of lightning to issue forth from the copper ball into the air, and manmade thunder to scare the living daylights out of the populace for miles around. He finally succeeded in burning out the generating plant at Colorado Springs due to the electrical overload placed upon it. This did not, of course, make him too popular with the local council, and he had to carry out extensive repairs to the plant before he was able to continue with his work.
He discovered that a rate of 150,000 oscillations a second, which produced electrical pulsations with a wavelength of 2000 meters, was necessary to produce the effects he required in the transmission of usable power through the earth.
If we convert the wavelength of 2000 meters to a minute of arc, or nautical mile equivalent on the earth’s surface the result is 1.0792237. The experimental value was therefore very close to 1.08 minutes of arc, or one twenty thousandth of the circumference of the earth. 21600 minutes divided by 1.08.
The exact number of cycles to obtain a 1.08 minute wavelength would be 149892.18 per second. This would tune the transmitter in harmony with the world grid system.
In the early stages of my work I wondered why I could not obtain pure harmonics from all my calculations when dealing with physical substance — that is, exactly 144 for the light harmonic etc. Tesla stated that it was not possible to obtain pure resonance or harmonic vibrations, because if this were so then matter itself would disintegrate. A certain amount of resistance must be allowed for to prevent complete destruction of physical substance. He tested his theory of power transmission by lighting 200 incandescent lamps at a distance of twenty-six miles from the laboratory while the giant oscillator was operating — the energy being extracted directly from the earth. Each lamp required about 50 watts of power — a total of 13hp. The claimed efficiency was 95 percent.
The Century Magazine ran an article in the June edition of 1900 stating comments made by Tesla regarding his Colorado experiments:
His experiments had shown him (as I had found in my own bumbling way) that matter was nothing more than a complex matrix of wave-forms locked together by harmonic resonance. The energy inherent in matter could be tapped if the secret of the geometric structure of the wave-forms could be broken. It appears that, by calculation, he had found that to tune in, so to speak, to this energy ball we call earth, he had to set up his apparatus on a particular point on its surface to ensure that the waves he proposed to transmit were in step with the natural medium.
The exact positions where Tesla built his transmitter is unknown to me, but I believe it was not too far from the theoretical one.
During my years of research I have discovered that some of the scientific establishments have been positioned in such a way that the latitude value sets up a harmonic due to the relative distance from the Equator and the North or South Pole. Also I have found that there are harmonic intervals above and below the normal units of degrees, minutes and seconds in circular measure. Division or multiplication is carried out by the harmonic value of 6.
So: for the theoretical latitude position we have:
Distance from the equator = 38.825453 degrees
Difference = 12.349095 degrees
Divided by 6 = 2.0581825 units
Multiplied by 2 = 4.116365 units
Squared = 16.9444 units
The site he picked for this station was to be on a tract of land owned by James S. Warden, a lawyer and banker. This was at Shoreham, in Suffolk County, Long Island. Tesla’s idea was to create a radio city from which information would be broadcast on all wavelengths. I find once more that far better than my own inadequate description of the system, the reported words of Tesla himself give more of an idea of the magnitude of the enterprise:
Soon after this everything started to go wrong for Tesla. He had trouble getting supplies of equipment he required and the financial hackers, who up till then had been highly enthusiastic about the project, withdrew their support. The whole project crashed. A plan that Tesla had for creating a similar station at Niagara Falls for Canadian interests was also abandoned. He never fully recovered from this setback. He was never again to receive the money he needed to carry out large-scale experiments.
The reasons for this were, and still are, veiled in mystery, and in 1943 he died alone, in a hotel room in New York, a poor and almost forgotten man.
This small resume of the life of Nicola Tesla does not give anything like the coverage of his achievement that it deserves. A large volume would have to be written to do anything like justice to this electrical genius who spent his life trying to give his fellow men a basis for a new and wonderful world. Why was he stopped? Would the dreams of a universal power system have allowed the poorer nations to advance too quickly? Could it be that the large international companies would have found it difficult to control such a system?
During the first world war the Wardencliffe Tower was dynamited for some obscure reason, and most traces of Tesla’s activity in the area completely obliterated.
At the time of writing the initial draft for this chapter I was unable to find the exact location of the tower site, because of the scanty records left behind for public viewing.
I did publish a theoretical position in my earlier works which showed a series of harmonics but was never really satisfied with the results. One of my readers in England decided to help me with the problem and wrote to a friend of his who lives on Long Island asking if it were possible to pin-point the site. He sent the results of his query on to me and I quote a section of his letter:
Computer calculations indicated that Tesla was in possession of knowledge far in advance of his time. If the position of the transmitter was near correct then the geometric placement was directly related to the unified equations discovered in my work on the world grid system.
The great circle displacement from the transmitter to a point of longitude 180° 00’ 00” at the same latitude, was:
= 8766 hours
One hour 49 minutes = 1.8166 hour
8766 divided by 1.8166 = 4825.3211
Square root of 4825.32 = 69.464
If we work backwards from this harmonic value, then:
8766 divided by 4822.5308 = 1.8177178
1.8177178 hours = One hour 49 minutes
Another interesting point that I believe we should note is that Tesla insisted that 60 cycles a second would be the most efficient frequency to use in all the alternators and motors produced from his patents. There was much opposition to this from the manufactured and practical men in the field, but Tesla won his point and, to this day, 60 cycles a second is the frequency used in alternating-current transmission.
Why? It has been found that one of the basic natural frequencies of the Earth is six cycles per second. Tesla picked a harmonic of 6 which would be the most practical.
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