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Inspiration Personified: Nikola Tesla, Facts Less Known About the Croatian Inventor

Updated on June 8, 2020

One evening in 1899 a seemingly unforgiving electrical storm was brewing in Colorado Springs near Denver. The eerie scenario was fuelled by the crackle of the giant Tesla Coils as it echoed across the empty streets under a cloudless sky. The highly motivated Dr Nikola Tesla desired to send a stream of increasingly powerful electrical pulses literally around the globe. For receiving this extremely powerful current on return after circling the Earth, he built a 60 metre high mast. As soon as the current was received it would be emitted again with more power until a cycle of electrical waves was created.

The objective of this experiment was to eventually be able to construct a grid of strategically placed hydroelectric power plants with receivers and emitters and create a supply of free electricity to people around the world.

A gush of electrical current arced into the sky increasing in strength until it had stretched up to 50 meters into the air. Unexpectedly this tremendously powerful rush of electricity created a static discharge that momentarily illuminated the soil as well as the vegetation. Whoever was unfortunate enough, not to be inside the safety of their house experienced sparks crackling under their shoes due to the powerful static current. Wisely enough Dr Tesla was wearing rubber shoes to protect himself from this event. Ultimately the voltage increased to a level where the city generator melted and the spectacle was over.

Nikola Tesla sitting in his experiment station.
Nikola Tesla sitting in his experiment station.

Nikola Tesla hailed from the village of Smiljan in Croatia. He was born on the 10th of July 1856. His father, who was a priest had an exceptional memory and was gifted with unique creativity. He made home craft tools and mechanical appliances as a side occupation. He has written in his notes that his passion for understanding electricity was inculcated in him by his physics professor. In 1873 Tesla had several near death experiences due to cholera and was bedridden for almost a year. He was such a workaholic that his professors wrote numerous letters to his father that Tesla must be counselled or he might lose his life due to overwork.

He could not complete his study from the Graz University of Technology though as he got addicted to gambling due to which he did not receive grades for his last semester as he was unprepared for his exams. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1879. He worked as a chief electrician in the Budapest Telephone Exchange where he made a lot of improvements in the equipment. Later he worked in the Continental Edison Company where his brilliance was discovered by Charles Batchelor and Tesla was brought to the U.S.

The Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.
The Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

The experiments and visions of this genius pioneer saw a tough opposition. He had real difficulties in collecting funds and finding investors for his projects. Tesla was passionate about Alternating Current whereas his business partner changed business rival Thomas Alva Edison strongly opposed the use of Alternating Current. He on the other hand was pro Direct Current. The year 1889 saw a profound breakthrough in the life of Dr Nikola Tesla when he was successful in transmitting 100 million volts of high-frequency electric power wirelessly over a distance of 40 kilometres to light up a a cluster of 200 light bulbs and run one electric motor.

He could not take this experiment of his much further as he had used up all his funds in building the wireless transmitter/receiver for this unprecedented feat. Who knows if money kept flowing, what could this prodigy could have produced. He died at an age of 86 on 7th of Jan. 1943 due to coronary thrombosis. His ashes now rest in a golden sphere in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

Nikola Tesla in a demonstration.
Nikola Tesla in a demonstration.

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