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The GNA Insider

Nikola Tesla: the forgotten man who shaped the modern world

Madelyn Bugdonovitch, Student Writer

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“The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention. It is the most important product of his creative brain. Its ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of the forces of nature to human needs. This is the difficult task of the inventor, who is often misunderstood and unrewarded…”  

The life of an inventor in the turn of the century was not always a pleasant one, as described here by Nikola Tesla. In the early twentieth century, the pioneers of technology often lead successful and social lives. However, there is one man who remained in the shadows, but who seemed to rise above the rest.

Nikola Tesla, despite remaining relatively incognito during his life and eventually disappearing into the background of history, shaped the modern world with his inventions such as Alternating Current, the “Tesla Coil,” and the electric motor.     

Nikola Tesla arrived in the United States in 1884, where he moved to New York and began using his degrees in engineering and physics to create mechanical masterpieces. In 1888, Tesla presented his creation of Alternating Current at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Tesla’s alternating current was unlike anything previously created. Thomas Edison created Direct Current, which proved to be highly dangerous and widely ineffective. Alternating Current, however,  changes direction frequently, allowing for a safer voltage and a more useful electricity production. Alternating current has since become a mainstay of everyday life, with most home and office outlets using Alternating Current.

Tesla once again pushed the boundaries of science and technology with his invention of the Tesla Coil. The design of the coil, along with its results, was unlike anything else seen at the time. In its most refined and basic form, Tesla’s invention requires a circuit, a supply of power, a capacitor, and a transformer. The voltage within the coil could be manipulated to pursue itself creating a electrically stable environment.

As years passed and technology developed, the Tesla Coil became a powerful and influential component in radio transmitters and their antennas. Much of today’s radio technology is widely based off of the foundation that Tesla built in this field. On a much  larger scale, the Tesla Coil could be and has been used to further investigate the development of x-rays and wireless power. We continue to use similar radio, x-ray, and wireless technology that would not have been possible without this genius invention by Tesla. The majority of today’s communication, entertainment, and broadcasting of news would simply be unattainable.

There have been many inventions by Tesla, but the electric motor is one that is highly influential, even by today’s standards. Using his Alternate Current and the ideas behind it, Tesla developed the electric motor using two large electromagnets. The simultaneous push and pull of these magnets is what causes them to rotate and become charged while producing a steady magnetic field. At the time, this new technology was used to deliver and create widespread electricity to the whole nation. These electric motors are used in today’s electric car brands, such as those from Tesla, a brand of electric vehicles that borrows its name from the distinguished inventor. He sparked a technological revolution that is still in effect today.

Nikola Tesla’s research widely involved harnessing and using electricity to allow for the expansion and development of society. Through the invention of Alternate Current, the electric motor, and the Tesla Coil, we have been able to live more efficient and free lives. Because of his pioneering in the field of electricity we can live our lives with practicality. He has giving us a platform to advance and continue to push the boundaries of science and technology. With his mastermind and creations, Nikola Tesla shaped the modern world.   

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Nikola Tesla: the forgotten man who shaped the modern world