Forgotten genius Nicola Tesla

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Nicola Tesla was undoubtedly one of the greatest geniuses of 20 century. His contributions to Electrical Engineering field were amazing for the entire world. But, only a handful people know his name. Although he was a profound genius, he was a forgotten person in history. Why?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Pengwuino
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I think he's known on the level of thomas edison... I've heard of plenty of people speak of Tesla so I don't believe he is that forgotten...
 
  • #3
russ_watters
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Most people with knowledge of the subject know he's on about the same level as Edison. It's pretty much just conspiracy theorists who think he's unknown to everyone else. So what's the point of this thread...?
 
  • #4
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Personally, I read quite abit about him and think he is a much better engineer than edison.

Edison is more of a experiment and try an error type of person while Nicola Tesla was a theorist who worked his stuff out first before testing the results.

If you read his biography, he has no business knowledge and was too trusting, that lead to his downfall. Edison on the other hand, knew business, thus was able to outshine Nicola Tesla. Overal, I still admire Nicola Tesla more.

Somehow, i feel I am typing nonsense... :P
 
  • #5
Ouabache
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I've known about Tesla for awhile, at least since high school when we were introduced to a http://tesladownunder.iinet.net.au/Tesla_7ft.JPG, after him.

Since then I've borrowed a video from the library about Tesla. It portrayed his life exactly as carlz mentioned. Tesla was a physicist, an electrical engineer and inventor. He was more of a scientist than Edison whom he admired as a youth. Nicola was such a genius, he was able to formulate complete designs just in his mind without committing them to paper.
 
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  • #6
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Something that's quite disturbing though. When experimenting with AC, he tried to establish the fact that it takes much less current than DC to be fatal. In order to prove his point, he paid street boys to bring him stray dogs to test his AC experiments. All ended dead of course.

He has the typical 'mad scientist' image with him sitting in that huge room with the gigantic tesla coil in the middle shooting arcs meters long with loud cracking noises.
 
  • #7
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carlz said:
Something that's quite disturbing though. When experimenting with AC, he tried to establish the fact that it takes much less current than DC to be fatal. In order to prove his point, he paid street boys to bring him stray dogs to test his AC experiments. All ended dead of course.
That was Edison. He was trying to promote his DC system over Tesla's AC system.

carlz said:
He has the typical 'mad scientist' image with him sitting in that huge room with the gigantic tesla coil in the middle shooting arcs meters long with loud cracking noises.
Really? I find that to be cool.
 
  • #8
russ_watters
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carlz said:
Personally, I read quite abit about him and think he is a much better engineer than edison.

Edison is more of a experiment and try an error type of person while Nicola Tesla was a theorist who worked his stuff out first before testing the results.

If you read his biography, he has no business knowledge and was too trusting, that lead to his downfall. Edison on the other hand, knew business, thus was able to outshine Nicola Tesla. Overal, I still admire Nicola Tesla more.
Those little differences led to Edison having much more financial and inventing success than Tesla, which would be why not as many people outside of engineering know much about him.
 
  • #9
FredGarvin
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Everyone knows of the hair band Tesla...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_(band [Broken])

Ouabache said:
...he was able to formulate complete designs just in his mind without committing them to paper.
Those tend to be the hardest people to work with (in my experience).
 
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  • #10
Every child in Europe knows about Nikola Tesla.
As long as there are Serbs on this Planet Nikola Tesla will never be forgotten!
Every Serb child is tutored to follow Nikola Tesla's footsteps.
*****My great great grandfather and Nikola Tesla were sitting in the same classroom, Yugoslavia.
 
  • #11
Serbian.matematika said:
Every child in Europe knows about Nikola Tesla.
As long as there are Serbs on this Planet Nikola Tesla will never be forgotten!
Every Serb child is tutored to follow Nikola Tesla's footsteps.
*****My great great grandfather and Nikola Tesla were sitting in the same classroom, Yugoslavia.
Thanks for your reply. Tesla was born in Croatia but he was a Serbian, right? I have been intereseted in his biography and career. Do you know any other famous Serbian scientists and inventors ? If so, can you share it with me?
 
  • #12
Serbian.matematika said:
Every child in Europe knows about Nikola Tesla.
As long as there are Serbs on this Planet Nikola Tesla will never be forgotten!
Every Serb child is tutored to follow Nikola Tesla's footsteps.
*****My great great grandfather and Nikola Tesla were sitting in the same classroom, Yugoslavia.
Again Serbian.matematika,
Since you are a serb, you might know the standard of some Universities Tesla studied. When I read the biography of Tesla, I found that he finished his bachelor degree at Austrian Polytechnic Institute and his doctorate degree at University of Prague. What do you think of the standard of these Universities at that time? Are these Universities still famous in Europe?
 
  • #13
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Tesla's recognition

As for last question, I don't know answer. As for first, Tesla's poor recognition in US lies in his conflict with Edison. Edison was great businessman and I would not go any further than that. Even his greatest "invention" light bulb was originally patented by Canadian from Toronto and bought by Edison to be further perfected and comercialized. Money is primary source of Edison's recognition, same like someone might refer to Bill Gates as father of modern operating system nowdays.
Conflict between Edison and Tesla started when Edison refused to pay Tesla agreed ammount for extra work he put in on one of the projects when Tesla was working in Edison's labs. When Tesla went on his own and finally succeded to push through superior AC system of power generation and transport that is work horse of todays economy, Edison saw him as threat and used his emense influnce in scientific and business comunnity at the time to crush Tesla. This campaign against Tesla resonates even to this day, for example Smithsonian refused to fully acknowledge Tesla' contribution to science untill year 2000!!! (http://www.rense.com/general6/tesla.htm) On the bottom of this page you will find link to wonderfull site about Tesla made and hosted by PBS! Even that AC system was clearly far superior to DC system used by Edison, there were places in US that were still powered by DC long after WWII! Bitter from batle with Edison and when Nobel prize was awarded to Marcony instead of him for invention of radio, Tesla closed to himself, and never elaborated his inventions in great detail anymore to anyone.
 
  • #14
ZapperZ
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With a number of people citing that they know about Tesla, and with the PBS documentary already shown several times, this then comes back to the question being asked towards the beginning of this thread that Leon W Zhang seems to have ignored - where is the evidence that Tesla is "forgotten in history"?

Clearly, the discussion presented above, and the fact that every time someone quote a magnetic field strength in SI units, his name is being invoked.

Zz.
 
  • #15
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Not forgotten...

but downplayed. Glorifying businessman as scientist and downplaying genius as madman is even worse.
 
  • #16
ZapperZ
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sjezdci said:
but downplayed. Glorifying businessman as scientist and downplaying genius as madman is even worse.
But downplayed by whom? Clearly he isn't forgotten nor downplayed by physicists and engineers. Downplayed by the general public? Well, is this NEW and unusual? I could cite and rattle off a number of important names that the public are utterly ignorant about. Would they know the only person who has ever won the physics Nobel Prize twice and arguably the person who has made the greatest impact on their lives today?

The general public isn't a good gauge on such a thing.

Zz.
 
  • #17
Pravoslavan
Leon W Zhang said:
Thanks for your reply. Tesla was born in Croatia but he was a Serbian, right? I have been intereseted in his biography and career. Do you know any other famous Serbian scientists and inventors ? If so, can you share it with me?
Yes, Tesla was proud Serb, his father was Serbian priest
It will be my pleasure to share informations with you....
There is a lot of scientists from Serbia.

Milutin Milankovic - geophysicist, best known for his theory of ice ages
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milutin_Milankovic

Mihajlo Pupin - physicist
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mihajlo_Pupin

Mileva Maric - Albert Einsteins wife, great mathematician
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mileva_Maric

Ogneslav Kostovic Stepanovic - invent first plastic in the world
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogneslav_Kostovic_Stepanovic
 
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  • #19
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Downplayed

by Smithsonian for example. If you ask avarage kid in US, who was Edison he will reply, great scientist, invented light bulb. Same question with Tesla's name will remain kid puzzled. Same kid will use Tesla's inventions several time a day, every day, with misguided belief that he has to thank for those things in life to people like Edison. And sad truth is that if Edison had his way, electricity would be play toy only for those that could afford DC generator in the basement and heavy copper wires throughout the house. I could go on on importance and quantity of Tesla's inventions, but one just has to read all his patents to realize that he was giant of his time. And the best part is, if you read his biography carefully you would realize that he never did it for the money. To him money was only means to do research. He believed in giving his inventions to humanity to make it better. His idea's of death rays and other weapons were instigated by hope to make wars absolete and imposible. Only thing he was seeking in life was recognition, and he died without it. What was supposed to be his biggest achievement, to provide world with means of transporting energy without wires and obstacles, was torn down by angry mob with pitch forks, due to their belief that he is sending secrets to Germans. I guess in this world one has to steal and grab anything he can to receive recognition in society. That is shamefull part of the past, and like any other dark spots in their history, US kids are shielded from, this one too is unknown to them. Being recognized only in tight scientific and engineering community is not doing justice to Nikola Tesla.
 
  • #20
Ivan Seeking
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If we go outside of the crowd of science and engineering types, I would bet that very few people could cite any of Tesla's actual contributions to science and engineering. The most common citations would be for the fictionalized version of history - anti-gravity devices and conspiracy theories.
 
  • #21
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What's bothering me most about this thread is the erroneous notion that Edison was a good businessman. He was actually a business failure, over and over. He was inept at marketing his own inventions, although he tried very hard. His competitors always came up with better versions that the consumer prefered.

His one big financial success, the iron-nickle battery, wasn't a famous invention and most have never heard of it. Edison was great at PR, though, and could always eventually find financial backing.

Edison is still somewhat more well known, simply because his three big inventions are easier to grasp. It's much more difficult for the average man to appreciate why an induction motor or alternating current distribution is impressive when compared to something spectacular like recorded sound.
In the past 30 years, though, Tesla has been undergoing a huge resurgence in popularity and it's no longer true that he languishes in obscurity while Edison basks in the limelight.
 
  • #22
ZapperZ
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sjezdci said:
by Smithsonian for example. If you ask avarage kid in US, who was Edison he will reply, great scientist, invented light bulb. Same question with Tesla's name will remain kid puzzled. Same kid will use Tesla's inventions several time a day, every day, with misguided belief that he has to thank for those things in life to people like Edison. And sad truth is that if Edison had his way, electricity would be play toy only for those that could afford DC generator in the basement and heavy copper wires throughout the house. I could go on on importance and quantity of Tesla's inventions, but one just has to read all his patents to realize that he was giant of his time. And the best part is, if you read his biography carefully you would realize that he never did it for the money. To him money was only means to do research. He believed in giving his inventions to humanity to make it better. His idea's of death rays and other weapons were instigated by hope to make wars absolete and imposible. Only thing he was seeking in life was recognition, and he died without it. What was supposed to be his biggest achievement, to provide world with means of transporting energy without wires and obstacles, was torn down by angry mob with pitch forks, due to their belief that he is sending secrets to Germans. I guess in this world one has to steal and grab anything he can to receive recognition in society. That is shamefull part of the past, and like any other dark spots in their history, US kids are shielded from, this one too is unknown to them. Being recognized only in tight scientific and engineering community is not doing justice to Nikola Tesla.
Then I was right. People are using the "general public" as the measuring stick. I put it to you that you should be MORE concerned that almost half of the general public does not know that the electron is smaller than the nucleus and surrounds the nucleus. I would be more concerned about the scientific illiteracy of the general public than the fact that they didn't know anything about Tesla. Their ignorance about Tesla is only a symptom of a bigger problem. Besides, I could easily complain that the Smithsonian also did not do justice to a genius and giant like Bardeen! Would you say that you know all of his accomplishment?

There is nothing new here. The public has always been ignorant of many important people in science and technology.

Zz.
 
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  • #23
russ_watters
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Ivan Seeking said:
If we go outside of the crowd of science and engineering types, I would bet that very few people could cite any of Tesla's actual contributions to science and engineering. The most common citations would be for the fictionalized version of history - anti-gravity devices and conspiracy theories.
....and that's largely the fault of crackpots and science fiction writers.
 
  • #24
scepan
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I would like to reply on the question from Leon W Zhang about the Universities Tesla was studding. University in Graz, Austria, is still very respectful institution. It has a great tradition and the quality of studies are highly rated.

Another thing I would explain is the origins of Tesla. He was Serbian from Austria, and not from Croatia. That time, that region was a part of Austrian empire and had nothing to do with Croatia, that did not exists till 10 years ago. So, he was an Austrian citizen with Serbian origins, or Serbian nationality (to call it like that). Today, that region is located in Croatia, so that is the reason that you can find that he was a "Serb from Croatia", which was not correct in that time. But, as he said (or, at least how you can find somewhere) he claimed that at the first place he is a citizen of the world.

Just to add one more thing about Tesla (I am not sure if anybody mention that). There was a dispute about the patent for radio. As we know, Marcony was the person that was proclaimed as the person that invented the radio. But, after many year the court decided that that was not true and the right to be the first person was given to Tesla. Unfortunately, he was not there to receive that honor, since he died before it.
 
  • #25
Astronuc
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I believe Croatia (Hrvatska) has has periodic independence throughout the last 1100 years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croatia#History

Croatia eventually became a strong independent kingdom under king Tomislav in 925, but in 1102 the Croatians ended a decade-long dynastic struggle by agreeing to submit themselves to Hungarian authority.

By the mid-1400s, the Hungarian kingdom was gravely hurt by the Ottoman expansion as much of the mountainous country now known as Bosnia and Herzegovina fell to the Turks. At the same time, Dalmatia became mostly Venetian. Dubrovnik was a city-state that was firstly Byzantine (Roman) and Venetian, but later, unlike other Dalmatian city-states, it became independent as Republic of Dubrovnik, even if it was often under the suzerainty of neighboring powers.

The Battle of Mohács in 1526 led the Croatian Parliament to invite the Habsburgs, under Ferdinand I, to assume control over Croatia. Habsburg rule eventually did prove to be successful in thwarting the Ottomans, and by the 18th century, much of Croatia was free of Turkish control. The odd crescent shape of the Croatian lands remained as a mark, more or less, of the frontier to the Ottoman advance into Europe. Istria, Dalmatia and Dubrovnik all eventually passed to the Habsburg Monarchy between 1797 and 1815.

Following World War I and the demise of Austria-Hungary, Croatia joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which became Yugoslavia in 1929). Yugoslavia was invaded during World War II and Croatia was turned into a fascist puppet-state named the Independent State of Croatia. After the defeat of the Axis powers, Yugoslavia became a federal socialist state under the strong hand of Josip Broz Tito.

Although Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991,
See also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_State_of_Croatia -

Other sources seem to confirm that Croatia, or most of which is now Croatia, has has some level of autonomy or ethnic/territorial identity for some 1100 years.
 

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