Top 10 Greatest Inventions by Nikola Tesla

Top 10 Greatest Inventions by Nikola Tesla Nikolai Tesla was a man with big ideas; he
has over 300 patents to his name. The problem was that Tesla was way ahead of his time and
a lot of his more elaborate ideas theoretically worked, but never actually panned out. With
that being said, the man was still a brilliant inventor who gave the world some amazing inventions
and was a pioneer in many fields. These are the 10 best Tesla inventions that were designed,
constructed and tested. 10. The Tesla Coil The Tesla coil was invented in 1891 and it
uses two coils; a primary and a secondary. Each coil has its own capacitor, which is
something that stores energy, like a battery. The coils are connected to a spark gap, which
is just open air where the spark can generate. The result is that the Tesla coil can shoot
lightning bolts, send electric currents through the body and create electron winds. Tesla
had developed it because he was obsessed with powering cities wirelessly. Today, the Tesla
Coil is mostly used for entertainment and can be seen in places like science centers.
Some elements of it are also used in radios. Why the Tesla Coil is important is because
it helped engineers understand the nature of electricity better and how to use it. 9. The Magnifying Transmitter In the late 1890s Tesla had become obsessed
with transferring power without wires and he thought that it was possible to do it at
higher altitudes. After securing some funding, Tesla set up a lab in Colorado Springs in
May 1899. There, he built the largest and most powerful Tesla coil called the Magnifying
Transmitter. The Magnifying Transmitter had three coils and was fifty-two feet in diameter.
It generated millions of volts of electricity and shot lightning bolts that were 130 feet
long. They were the biggest man-made lightning at the time. The problem was that Tesla was a bit too ambitious
and ahead of his time. Wireless electricity wouldn’t be developed until the mid-2010s,
and as of 2015, it is not yet common in households. While this specific project did not pan out,
the vision and the scope are still quite impressive. The Magnifying Transmitter was the predecessor
to Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower that was supposed to provide free electricity and communications
to the world. Tesla started working on the project in 1901, but after financial backers
pulled out the project fell apart and in 1915 the site went into foreclosure. The project
also ruined Tesla. He had to file for bankruptcy and had a nervous breakdown. 8. The Tesla Turbine In the early 20th century the world saw the
rise of the piston engine in automobiles. In an attempt to compete against the piston
engine, Tesla developed his own turbine. It was bladeless and used smooth discs that spun
in a chamber. How it worked was that fuel was combusted before entering the main chamber
that contained the discs. The combustion would make the disks rotate, which ran the engine.
When Tesla tested the engine in 1909, it got 60 percent fuel efficiency, which is impressive
considering that currently we only get 42 percent fuel to energy conversion rates. Yet,
because of the nature of business, people saw more value in the piston engine because
of fuel sales and it became the norm that is still in use today. 7. Shadowgraphs In 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
discovered a mysterious energy that he called X-rays. These X-rays had a strange ability.
When he placed photographic film between his hand and a lead screen, it created an image
of the bones in his hand on the film. A short time later, Röntgen went public with his
research and the picture of Röntgen wife’s hand, which was taken December 22, 1895, became
famous. In the picture you can see the bones in her hand and the wedding ring on her finger. There is some evidence that Tesla knew a little
bit about X-rays before Röntgen made his research public. Tesla’s own research was
stopped when a fire destroyed his lab in 1895, shortly before Röntgen discovered them. When
Röntgen published his findings, it helped inspire Tesla to create his own X-ray using
a vacuum tube, which produced pictures that he called “shadowgraphs.” Tesla is considered
the first person in America to take an X-ray picture. He made a shadowgraph of a foot with
a shoe on it and sent it with a letter to Röntgen, congratulating him on the discovery.
Röntgen, in turn, wrote to Tesla commending him on taking a remarkably clear shadowgraph. Shadowgraphs played an important role in the
development of X-ray machines. After the discovery, people were developing new X-ray tools, but
the image was never that clear. Tesla realized that bulbs with higher voltages and bulbs
with thick walls make for clearer images. Tesla was also one of the first to write that
x rays may be harmful to the body. 6. Radio Who exactly invented radio is a point of contention.
What happened was that in 1895, Tesla was getting ready to transmit a radio signal 50
miles. Before he could do that, his lab burned down and it delayed the testing. Meanwhile,
in England an Italian man named Guglielmo Marconi was working on wireless telegraphy.
Marconi was granted a patent in England in 1896 for his device. His system was much different
than the one Tesla built. Marconi’s only used two circuits and couldn’t transmit
over long distances, such as the Atlantic. Tesla’s invention would use multiple circuits,
which would make it much stronger. Tesla submitted his patent in 1897 in the
United States and it was granted in 1900. When Marconi submitted his radio patent in
1900 to the U.S. Patent Office, it was turned down because it was too similar to Tesla’s.
Undeterred, Marconi opened his own company called the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company,
Ltd, and it had powerful backers, including English aristocrats, Andrew Carnegie and Tesla’s
rival, Thomas Edison. On December 12, 1901, while using a number
of Tesla’s patents, including a Tesla oscillator, Marconi was able to transmit a signal across
the Atlantic. In 1904, without giving a clear reason, the patent office reversed their decision
and said that Marconi’s patent was valid, making him the inventor of the radio. Marconi
won the Nobel Prize in 1911 and in 1915, Tesla sued Marconi’s corporation. The problem
was, at that point in his life, Tesla was too poor to take on a major corporation. The
case wasn’t settled until a few months after Tesla’s death in 1943 when the U.S. Supreme
Court upheld Tesla’s patent. However, the reason for that is, during that time, Marconi
was suing the United States government over patent infringements during World War I. By
reverting the rights back to Tesla, they would avoid the lawsuit with Marconi. 5. Neon Lamps While fluorescent and neon lights were not
discovered by Tesla, he did make many contributions to the advancement of both. What is interesting
is that no one working with cathode rays, which are the electrons observed in vacuum
tubes like neon lights, really came up with a practical application for the technology. Tesla saw an opportunity, so he experimented
with running electrical particles through gases and he developed four different types
of lighting. For example, he converted black light into visible light using a phosphorescent
substance that he created. He also found a practical use for such a technology when he
created lamps and neon signs. For example, at the World’s Columbian Exposition, otherwise
known as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, at his personal exhibit Tesla had neon signs
that were unique designs and written words. The idea became more popular and now neon
lights and signs light up major cities around the world. 4. The Adams Power Plant Transformer House For years, the Niagara Falls Commission was
looking for a company to build a hydroelectric plant that would harness the mighty power
of the falls. At first, they considered Thomas Edison’s direct current plant, but after
witnessing Tesla’s alternating current that was offered by Westinghouse Electric, Westinghouse
was offered the contract in 1893. Westinghouse used designs from Tesla and the biggest problem
was getting and keeping funding for such an ambitious task that a lot of people doubted
would work. Yet, when the switch was flipped on November 16, 1896, the Adams Power Plant
Transformer House worked and started powering the city of Buffalo, New York. Ten more generators
were built, and they helped power New York City. The plant was considered revolutionary
and set the standard for modern hydroelectric power plants. 3. The Induction Motor An induction motor is a motor that uses alternating
current and it essentially has two parts – a stator and a rotor. The stator stays stationary
and it uses electromagnets to spin the rotor that is in the middle of it. Induction motors
are noted for being durable, easy to maintain and they are cheap to run. In the 1880s, there were two people who were
working separately on the induction motor; Tesla and Galileo Ferrari in Italy. They both
presented their findings in 1888, with Ferrari presenting his engine two months before Tesla
presented his. However, Tesla’s patents held up under the weight of the evidence.
Both had developed the same technology and came to the same independent conclusion, Tesla
had just filed his patents first. The induction motor was incredibly influential and it is
still used in everyday products like vacuums, blow dryers and power tools. 2. Teleautomaton In 1898, at the Electrical Exhibition at Madison
Square Gardens, Tesla showed off an invention he called “teleautomaton” and it was a boat
that was controlled by radio waves. He didn’t even have a patent on it because the patent
office didn’t want to issue one on something that they didn’t think was feasible. But
at the exhibition he proved that it was possible. He controlled the boat that had some batteries
on it. Through the radio waves, he controlled the propeller and even the lights on the boat. This invention was a big first in three different
areas, the first is remote controls. Radio waves that control objects are seen in everyday
life, such as television remote controls and garage door openers. Secondly, the boat is
also one of the earliest robots; it was a mechanical object that could be controlled
without a human physically touching it. Finally, the combination of robotics and radio control
technology makes Tesla’s boat the great grandfather of drones.
1. Alternating Current Easily, the most important inventions from
Nikolai Tesla involve his contributions to alternating current (AC). It is important
to note that he did not invent or even discover AC, but his inventions made AC applicable
for widespread use and it helped electrify the world. The story of how Tesla’s AC current came
to be the dominant power system is impossible to tell without talking about Thomas Edison.
In his early career, Tesla worked for Edison, whose company had developed direct current
(DC). DC is similar to a battery, it only sends power out. The problem with DC is that
about a mile away from the power generator, the electricity gets weaker. That is when
Tesla developed his advancements in AC. AC not only sends power out, but it also sends
power back to the source. This made it much more feasible to send large amounts of energy
over a large area. Edison hated AC and thought that Tesla was
completely wrong on the topic. This led to a rift between Tesla and Edison, which led
to Tesla quitting. While Tesla was unemployed, he worked odd jobs until he was able to raise
money for the Tesla Electric Company. His work caught the attention of engineer and
businessman George Westinghouse, who bought most of Edison’s patents involving AC. A pivotal moment in the history of electricity
came down to lighting The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Edison and Westinghouse both
submitted quotes. Edison said he could light the whole fair for $554,000, but Westinghouse
said he could do it for $399,000, so Westinghouse won the contract. After the fair, AC became
more popular and it is the dominant electrical system that we still use today. Robert Grimminck is a Canadian freelance writer.
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