MASTER OF LIGHTNING
Nikola Tesla was born in the Serbian Village of Smiljan in 1856. He is well known as one of the world’s greatest inventors. After studying at the University in Graz he migrated to France, Germany and eventually the United States where he worked for Thomas Edison. The year was 1882 and at the time Edison, who had invented the electric light bulb, was promoting direct current electricity. There were many problems with DC electricity, most importantly, it was impossible to transmit the power further than a couple of miles before it dissipated. The Edison Power Company was building DC power generation plants in New York City at the time on grids about two miles apart. While with Edison, Tesla built and perfected the first alternating current generators and motors, which Edison was not interested in because he was tied heart and purse strings to direct current. Tesla was eventually introduced to George Westinghouse who purchased most of Tesla’s patents having to do with alternating current power.
During Tesla’s 86 years, he invented the polyphase induction motor, mechanical oscillators, electrical oscillators and wireless communication (devices?) (including the radio which was wrongly credited to Marconi). He is directly responsible for the television, which all Telsa scholars find ironic, since he would have never taken the time to sit and watch one for more than a few minutes. He touched on quantum physics by noticing that energy has both particle-like properties and wave-like properties. He invented one of the basic components of electronic digital computers—the end AND Logic Gate. This work was all in the context of communications which included the concept of frequency hopping to two different systems, and the system of signaling and logic of signaling in spread spectrum, which he patented in 1903. In Colorado Springs, in 1898 where he set up a lab to work on wireless communications and transmission of electricity, he successfully lit 200 light bulbs from a distance of 26 miles without wires. He invented a wireless controlled boat, which he used to demonstrate his wireless radio invention at Madison Square Garden to the public in 1901. This invention is the basis for wireless telephones, garage door openers, car radios, facsimile machines, cable tv scramblers and all remote control devices. He, also, built and designed the power plant at Niagara Falls, New York and invented the Tesla disc turbine—all before 1900.
In his later years he worked to build the world wireless communication center on Long Island at a project he named Wardenclyffe. The plan failed due to financial difficulties and the lack of funding from his partner, J.P. Morgan who it turned out had large interests in seeing that wires would forever carry electrical current. If his plan had succeeded, as many scientist’s today believe it would have, he would have provided a telecommunications enterprise more efficient that the combined forces of today’s radio, television, telephone and power systems. His ultimate plan included the production of rain in the deserts, the lighting of skies above shipping lanes and cities, the wireless production of energy for automobiles and airships, and a mechanism for interplanetary communication. He is also credited with inspiring communication satellites.
He spent his time with the likes of John Jacob Astor, Stanford White, Robert Underwood, Mark Twain, David Sarnoff, Ned Harriman and Albert Einstein. Part of the drama of his life was that he was a man who not only revolutionized the generation and distribution of electrical energy and made basic contributions to many other facets of modern technology but that he did so without the specific aim of amassing great wealth. His lifelong goal was to make life better for the masses.
As part of the Tech Festival, William Terbo, Tesla nearest living relative and representatives from the Tesla Memorial Society will be bringing to Telluride never before seen exhibits, inventions, and pictures of the life and times of Nikola Tesla. Also, Bill Wysock of the Tesla Technology Research Society will be bringing a Tesla Coil for demonstration and to provide nighttime lightning storms as only the “Master of Lightning” knew how.