Guest Blogger – J. Barry Wright
This FUN note features Nicola Tesla the electrical genius on the face of the note. His portrait also appears on the 100 dinara Serbian note.
While interviewing Albert Einstein a reporter asked, ”What’s it like to be the smartest man on earth?” Einstein replied without hesitation, “Why don’t you ask Nikola Tesla that question?”
Born in 1856, Nikola was dying of cholera at the age of sixteen when his father an ordained priest in the Orthodox religion promised Nikola he could go to engineering school instead of the priesthood. So the man who questioned Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity because he did not believe in the electron recovered and excelled in school in Serbia. His countless subsequent inventions lay the groundwork for electricity distribution and electronics.
At the age of 28 he arrived here in the United States from his hometown Smijian, Croatia to work with Thomas Edison in New York City. His subsequent inventions include the polygraph, and alternating current induction motor. He invented the first workable radar system. (meant to be a death ray for the military) His patent for a biplane that would take off vertically was the precursor for the tilt wing concept in aviation.
He did pioneer work that laid the foundation for the development of wireless communications while he was employed by George Westinghouse. Westinghouse backed his system of creating and distributing the alternating current system of power. His first attempt at wireless distribution of free power failed and his notes were buried by the US Government.
Meanwhile, Thomas Edison with the financial backing of JP Morgan, built the first power network utilizing Niagara Falls as their power source to create DC current.
Tesla argued that AC power would be the most efficient and practical way to distribute electricity to residential homes. On the other hand Edison and JP Morgan created a campaign to frighten the public claiming that AC was dangerous and that it would cause countless deaths.
The State of New York agreed to Edison’s design of the first electric chair and New York executed a prisoner using the new electric chair in a publicized event. What followed was a debacle of catastrophic proportions. The first attempt to electrocute an inmate failed. Three more attempts were needed ramping up the voltage each time. The final try was a sickening display where sparks flew out of the ears of the convict and fried him. The resulting outcry caused the immediate banning of the electric chair in the State of New York and Edison was severely discredited.
JP Morgan depleted Westinghouse’s funds with this campaign and then bought him out. Westinghouse first bought out Tesla’s AC patents for $200k. JP then utilized Tesla’s patent for the polyphase AC motor and his empire thrived while Tesla was cut off from any patent royalties.
Nikola invented the oscillator circuit and discovered magnetic resonance. He attempted to use resonance to develop a super weapon that would actually strip the tectonic plates away from the planet and create catastrophic earthquakes. Luckily this experiment was stopped before completion.
He was a polyglot who spoke eight languages and had a photographic memory He slept only two hours a night and never married claimed that chastity helped his mental powers. He was a proponent of selective breeding and eugenics, hated obese people yet was very sympathetic to the plight of women and backed women’s voting rights and equal pay. He was run over by a taxi in New York City in 1937 where he refused to see a doctor and was bedridden for a number of months. Finally in 1943, he died a pauper.