Nikola Tesla (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Тесла) was of unusual intellectual brilliance. The Serbian-American inventor, physicist, mechanical engineer and electrical engineer had a general mental capability that could reason, plan, and solve problems in his head. He could think abstractly and comprehend ideas without putting pen to paper. His patents (over 225 in the United States) and theoretical work still form the basis for modern alternating current electric power systems (including the polyphase system power distribution system). Tesla helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution. Tesla is regarded as one of the most important inventors in history. He is also well known for his contributions to the science of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His legacy can be seen across modern civilization.
In his early years, he enjoyed widespread fame; he was widely recognized in high society and in culture, and a significant amount of professional material of the publishing industries focuses on Tesla's announcements. He was highly regarded in the annals of history. In the United States, Tesla's fame rivaled that of any other inventor or scientist of his era. After his demonstration of wireless communication in 1893 and after Westinghouse being the victor in the "War of Currents" using Tesla's patents, he was widely respected as America's greatest electrical engineer. Tesla's name became a byword for innovation and practical achievement.His name was one of the most recognizable in the world, a magician who conjured up technical feats. Much of his early work pioneered modern electrical engineering and many of his discoveries were of groundbreaking importance. He later became credited as being the inventor of the radio. Tesla's vision was to find a means to provide humanity the means for unlimited energy. He gave his life to make real these plans, while others made fortunes with his inventions.
In his later years, Tesla was regarded as a mad scientist. He became noted for making "bizarre" and misunderstood claims about possible scientific developments. At the end of his life, Tesla was mocked by his contemporaries and lived his remaining years destitute and forgotten. Never putting a large focus on his finances, Tesla died impoverished at the age of 86. Tesla was ahead of his time; many of Tesla's ideas and concepts are just only recently coming to fruition.
Tesla's legacy can be seen across modern civilization wherever electricity is used. Aside from his work on electromagnetism and engineering, Tesla is said to have contributed in varying degrees to the fields of robotics, ballistics, computer science, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics. Many of his achievements have been used, with some controversy, to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories, and New Age occultism. Many contemporary admirers of Tesla have deemed him the man who invented the twentieth century.
Relations, friendships, and personal views[edit | edit source]
In his middle life, Nikola Tesla became very close friends with Mark Twain. They spent a lot of time together in his lab and elsewhere. He remained bitter in the aftermath of his incident with Edison. The day after Edison died the New York Times contained extensive coverage of Edison's life, with the only negative opinion coming from Edison who was quoted as saying, "He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene" and that, "His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical American sense." In his old age, Edison expressed that his biggest mistake was never respecting Tesla or his work. This did little for their almost non-existent relationship.
Tesla was opposed to wars but believed it could not be avoided until the cause for its recurrence was removed. He inherited a hatred of war from his parents and homeland, and devised protective measures intended to systematically end warfare. He found exceptions and some justifiable situations where conflict was indeed necessary. He envisioned wars of machines, not of humans, and a future of catastrophic weapons. He sought to reduce distance, such as in communication for better understanding, transportation, and transmission of energy, as a means to ensure friendly international relations. A system for "Projecting Concentrated Non-Dispersive Energy Through Natural Media" known as teleforce was reportedly developed later in his life. Teleforce was intended to be a type of defensive particle-beam weapon.
Like many of his era he developed a fondness for eugenics. The earliest clear instances of this were after his obsessive-compulsive disorder had been pronounced. In a curious 1926 interview he indicated humanity's future would be run by a "Queen Bee" referring to women who'd mate selectively.. By February of 1935 he had a pro-eugenics article in Liberty which was edited by a friend named G. S. Viereck. In a 1937 interview near the end of his life he indicated that "A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal." Tesla was considered an eccentric, therefore some of his ideas have been overlooked in the traditional eugenicist school of thought.