Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in the village of Smilyan (region of the Austrian Empire) in the family of a local parish priest. His father hoped that the guy would continue his career, but from childhood, Nicola was interested in completely different.
Until the end of his life, Tesla recalled how he first became acquainted with electricity. At the age of six, his main friend was a black cat. Once Nicola played with him in the evening twilight. The boy stroked the animal on the back and sparks appeared from touch. The fact that this electricity struck Tesla to the core.
Later, his family moved from the village to the city, and Nikola began to go to high school. In his autobiography, he wrote about his almost supernatural abilities that helped him solve mathematical and physical tasks. Tesla’s head seemed to have a board with a description of the problem, and behind it appeared its solution. He answered the teacher’s questions verbally a minute later. And did not even have time to write down the decision.
The inventor was an extremely erudite polyglot. He had a photographic memory, he recited Goethe's Faust by heart and spoke eight languages: Serbo-Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian and Latin. In his student years, the future scientist became addicted to gambling: billiards, chess and cards. Tesla could spend several days at the gaming table without a break. He also showed himself later, working in his laboratories.
Scheme on the sand
Tesla came up with how to use a rotating magnetic field in practice. This happened in 1882 while walking around Budapest and quoting Goethe's Faust. Prior to this, for several months, the scientist was tormented by a strange disease, the nature of which, most likely, was extreme exhaustion of the body due to overwork. “A fly sitting on a table in a room generated a dull sound in my ear, resembling the fall of a heavy body,” the inventor wrote in his autobiography. Only walks and gymnastics under the supervision of a friend helped the scientist to get out of a blurred state.
During one of these walks, Nicola was literally illuminated. In an instant, he realized how his engine would work, and began to draw a Scheme directly on the sand. She changed both the fate of Tesla and the world in which we live.
AC / DC
In those years, the streets of cities were lit with gas lanterns or electric arc lamps. Neither the first nor the second method was suitable for light in closed dwellings. Electric light came into the house only in 1879, when Thomas Edison upgraded the bulb to commercially beneficial parameters.
Tesla arrived in New York in 1884. Before that, he worked for several years in the Paris regional branch of Edison's company. In the unofficial capital of the United States, Nicola continued to work more closely with his future rival. He tried to talk to the “king of the light" about the benefits of AC, but Edison was adamant - he saw the future at DC.
It is worth explaining that in the United States of those years, Thomas Edison's power plants transmitted low voltage direct current (DC). But effective transmission was only over short distances. More precisely, over very short distances - up to two kilometers from the generator. The farther the wires went, the more energy was lost along the way, which was extremely unprofitable from a commercial perspective.
Tesla was for alternating electric current (AC), which was not particularly dependent on the length of the wires. The problem was only in modulating the voltage at the input and output from the electrical wires to supply safe current to the dwellings. This problem was solved by engineer William Stanley: the generator produces alternating current of low voltage, the transformer increases the voltage to the desired value, the current is transmitted over a huge distance, and the other transformer already lowers it.
In 1887, after leaving the factory of Thomas Edison, Nikola had to be a simple worker until he met two partners with whom he organized the company Tesla Electric. The scientist received his own laboratory.
AC adherents rested on one important detail - the lack of reliable electric motors that could twist various machines in factories. The bulbs in the homes of consumers in this case acted more like a PR company of all electricity combined.
The inventor worked on the entire system of equipment for transferring alternating current immediately: generators, counters, transformers. And over AC motors. Tesla’s motor just used the rotation of the electromagnetic field. Two different alternating currents were supplied to the poles of the electric motor, differing from each other by a phase shift. This caused the rotation of the magnetic field. It moved the rotor winding. Nicola began to develop the idea of a two-phase current, while noting that the number of phases can be large. In 1888, he received the first patents for AC motors.
The development of Tesla attracted tycoon George Westinghouse, who worked with AC lighting. He bought the patents and hired Nicola himself to work as a consultant. With the achievements of an outstanding Serb, the company rushed forward, frightening Edison, who had deployed a black PR against AC. The result of this in some ways was the creation of an electric chair. On it criminals were executed by alternating current. Thus, Edison tried to prove his danger.
Tesla soon moved to his own laboratory, where he continued to work on a variety of inventions. So, in the early 90s, he showed the amazed public a lamp without an incandescent filament, which was not connected to any wire, but still glowed. It was like a Geisler gas discharge lamp introduced into a high frequency alternating electromagnetic field. Tesla later fills these lamps with luminescent forms, making a prototype of modern fluorescent lamps. Edison did not like the competitor of his incandescent bulbs. He called it a dead white light, dangerous to the eyes.
March 13, 1895 the inventor suffered a serious blow. His laboratory in New York on Fifth Avenue completely burned down. Apparently, due to a short circuit in the building, a fire started, which within a few hours completely destroyed the works of Tesla's whole life: instruments, all experimental installations, drawings and documents, notes in the engineer’s diaries. Under the onslaught of reporters, Nicola held on with dignity. He said that everything will be restored, except for letters from his relatives.
Despite Tesla's phenomenal memory, these words sounded more like bravado for journalists. It would be possible to partially restore the achievements, but only for this a new laboratory was needed. The burnt one was estimated at $ 250 thousand. And where to get that kind of money, Tesla did not know. Newspapers called the fire not a personal loss of the scientist, but a tragedy for the whole world.
The house was not insured, the equipment belonged to Westinghouse Electric, a company that owed much to Tesla. Nicola practically saved her founder when he refused his patent payments during the crisis: Westinghouse pledged to pay $ 2.5 for each sold horsepower of its engines. By 1905, it would have been $ 17.5 million. But Westinghouse's company was in a deplorable state, and the founder put Tesla with a choice: either we bring your motors and alternating current to the world, or we pay you money and close. It is alleged that the inventor in the eyes of Westinghouse tore that contract.
When Tesla himself was in trouble, Westinghouse Electric employees billed him for the destroyed equipment and did not provide any delays in payments for the new one. Why the founder of the company was silent, is unclear.
But by that time Nicola was already world famous and received philanthropic assistance from an American entrepreneur. He was offered to create a joint company, to refine the same invention of the radio to a commercial model, but the inventor saw prospects in working on high-frequency current. The biographers of the scientist call this the main mistake of Tesla, which negatively affected his life.
Tesla could well claim the discovery of X-rays, which was first described by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895. Back in 1887, the Serb conducted experiments with electric vacuum tubes. Introducing them into the field of high-frequency currents, Nikola registered two types of radiation: visible light and ultraviolet radiation. But there were also very special rays that left strange prints on the metal screens.
Six years later, during a public lecture, Tesla returned to these rays, noting their ability to penetrate objects, which allowed them to see the objects in the drawers. But due to the scientist’s extreme employment on various objects, the study of rays did not advance further. Only the discovery of X-ray opened the eyes of Nicole, who, however, did not claim to be the first. However, he clung tightly to the topic, published a dozen scientific articles on the nature of rays and improved the X-ray setup.
Tesla scanned everything and everyone in a row: dogs, his colleagues and himself. At the same time, to get some pictures, he had to sit under the installation for an hour, during which the researcher often fell asleep. At first, he believed that the radiation was completely harmless: irradiated his head, eyes, hands. Until he got his first burns.
Later, Tesla lost interest in radiation and began working with ultrasound, which his laboratory neighbors learned in the most unpleasant way - the scientist literally caused an earthquake in New York. At least he, and later his biographers talked about this incident.
Near the laboratory of Nikola were a police station, various factories and residential buildings of Italians. On a spring morning in 1898, the police station began to shake: furniture shook, shutters and doors themselves opened and slammed. In a panic, the population of the district ran out into the street, suggesting destructive shocks of the earthquake. The police, however, rushed straight to Tesla, who was considered the culprit of all the high-profile events.
They found a scientist in the laboratory with a sledgehammer in their hands. He hit an unknown device attached to a building support. The last blow, and the device crumbled, the earthquake ceased. It was a Tesla oscillator - a generator of mechanical vibrations of ultra-high frequency, producing ultrasound. These vibrations caused internal resonance in objects when they coincided with the frequency of their own vibrations. Nicola saw enormous destructive power in these principles. With a sufficient amount of dynamite, the inventor promised to split the Earth in two.
Of course, these stories for reporters turned out to be just stories. Later experiments with the machine called into question its omnipotent abilities.
Back in 1890, Tesla predicted the appearance of an apparatus that would allow its owner to listen to music, songs and human speech in the sea or on land at a great distance from the sound source. “In the same way, any picture, drawing, sign or text can be transmitted,” the scientist added. In some ways, Nicola became the first harbinger of the Internet.
As for the radio, Tesla not only reasoned, but also conducted experiments. In particular, the son of one of his assistants, many years later, talked about the demonstration of what was called the “radio”. A transmitter and a receiver participated in the experiment; long wires ran from both ceilings, which, apparently, were antennas. Messages were transmitted from a 5-kilowatt spark transmitter to the receiver's Geisler tube at a distance of 9 meters. The fact that Tesla in 1893 conducted similar experiments, said Alexander Popov. In particular, he noted the "use of the mast" for receiving and transmitting signals of electrical vibrations.
But the Italian Marconi was a much more cunning trader than Tesla. On the second attempt, he was able to challenge the American Serbian patents for the “Electric Power Transmission System” and the corresponding apparatus (US 645576 and US 649621). Thus, he left Nicola without patent payments and without fame, receiving the Nobel Prize. It is worth noting that the contribution of Marconi to the promotion of radio is invaluable. However, litigation between him and Tesla continued for more than a decade. The latter believed that Marconi simply robbed him. And only after the death of both inventors, the US Supreme Court put an end to the championship, restoring Serbian patents for electrical communications without wires.
Tesla’s primacy is evidenced by at least the fact that in 1893 he started developing remotely controlled machines. The scientist wrote that he worked hard on them for a couple of years and even created several mechanisms, but the ever-memorable fire threw him far back. The first public demonstration took place in 1898 at an exhibition where the hated Nicolas Marconi presented his distance mines.
The highlight of the event was the demonstration of Tesla’s invention - a radio-controlled boat, in the middle of which a metal rod stuck, and on the bow and stern there were light bulbs. The Serb had a remote control in his hands. Changing the signals from the remote control, Nikola forced the boat to move forward and backward, to perform various maneuvers.
To say that the demonstration caused a sensation is to say nothing. Tesla was offered to reprocess the boat into a submarine and, loaded with dynamite, send to destroy the Spanish ships. The United States was at odds with those countries in those years. But military experts did not discern the near future in this.
But Tesla was not worried about the military. He was sure that in the near future he could transmit energy without wires. This idea hit the scientist, and he went to Colorado Springs to experiment. Nikola's biographers note that with this trip came the third - final and inglorious - period in the life of an engineer. Great inventions were left behind, Tesla went down in history, and the remaining half of his life is a slow sunset, which the scientist has not yet guessed about.
In Colorado Springs, a 60-meter antenna was built by order of the inventor, with the help of which Nicola was going to experiment with wireless transmission of electricity. But while his tower, which the locals looked suspiciously and apprehensively, only generated lightnings - arm-thick and more than four meters long.
At the same station, Tesla, according to him, recorded strange signals that could be a radio broadcast from Mars or Venus. Reporters, of course, gave it off as a sensation. No evidence of Nicola's connection with the aliens was ever presented. The scientist was laughed at for this puncture, and for his wild concept of transmitting electricity without wires - he could not explain how to achieve this in practice. In the meantime, only lightning came out.
Despite all the negativity, Tesla received investments for a global radio network project, although he planned to engage in energy. With the money allocated by businessman Morgan, Nicola built a new laboratory and tower in Wordencliff, which became world famous. Its construction, which began in 1901, immediately aroused complaints from the investor: he did not understand why spend money on the tower, without which Marconi was able to transmit a signal almost across the Atlantic. Morgan began to suspect something and cut funding.
Tesla revealed all the cards in front of him. The businessman planned to take a leading position in the radio market, but in fact threw a huge amount of money into the fantastic plans of the Serb. The scientist wrote letters of despair to him throughout the year, but after a couple of refusals he was simply ignored. Lenders besieged Nicholas, the area around the tower had to be sold in pieces, and the building was literally dismantled by bricks by looters.
The collapse of Tesla's last hopes influenced his character. He began to work more with his tongue, not his head, talking about his new inventions that would soon turn the world upside down. It was these hoaxes from the Serb himself that contributed to the creation of an aura of mystery around him: cosmic rays, the mystery of the Tunguska meteorite, spy traces of the USSR and Germany. In the biography of the engineer there are many mysterious spots that are not directly related to his present inventions.
Nikola Tesla died at the age of 86. This happened between January 5 and 7, 1943, in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel on the 33rd floor. The scientist did not leave behind a inconsolable widow, children and grandchildren, since he lived all his life alone.