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Is Tesla's ability over-exaggerated, or under-appreciated ?

  1. Dec 1, 2013 #1


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    Is Tesla's ability over-exaggerated, or under-appreciated ??

    I stumbled upon this article, and would like to know how close to reality it is.

    Most importantly, I would like to know whether he made all the inventions listed before the known inventors did.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2013 #2
    Many people tend to forget that Tesla also invented the wheel ,sliced bread ,everything that was or will be invented and most stuff that will not be invented because it violates basic laws of physics.
  4. Dec 1, 2013 #3
    I sense a little sarcasm in that post ;)
  5. Dec 1, 2013 #4
    There is certainly a huge cult of tesla, particularly on the internet. Edison gets a bad wrap.
  6. Dec 1, 2013 #5
    I haven't read up a lot on Tesla but i remember making a telsa coil, that was pretty fun after I made it I didn't quite understand what you could use it for... It just seemed like a fun little project to make me look like a mad scientist, I think I'm going to read up about uses for it right now. :)
  7. Dec 1, 2013 #6
    That "article" is full of flaws and misinformation. For example: Tesla did not invent AC. Alternating current is the natural consequence of generating electricity by rotating a coil between the poles of a magnet, and that was discovered long before Tesla. In fact, it took some engineering to make a generator produce DC, which was accomplished by the use of commutators. Making AC was easy. Making DC was the original problem people sought to solve.

    Tesla's contribution was to figure out ways to use AC, as it was naturally generated, to power motors, and also as the basis of a long distance, high voltage (compared to DC) energy distribution system. He patented his ideas, and they sat doing nothing until George Westinghouse went looking through patents with the hope of developing an AC system to rival Edison's incipient DC system. There were many AC patents besides Tesla's, mind you. He wasn't the only inventor who saw it's potential. Westinghouse approached Tesla because Tesla's patents were the best developed and covered the widest range of inventions for AC.

    Westinghouse was the force that went up against Edison, not Tesla. Tesla engineered the 'weapons' so to speak, but Westinghouse fought the electrical war, and ultimately demonstrated AC was a much better system. Tesla didn't have the business sense or organizational capability to create and run a company that could rival Edison.

    Anyway, the oft repeated notion that Tesla invented AC is incorrect. He neither invented nor discovered it.

    I saw about 40 other assertions in that "article" that need correcting, but it would take pages. If you're really interested there are many biographies of Tesla and Edison (and Westinghouse, too).
  8. Dec 1, 2013 #7


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    Tesla, wheel and bread all have the same number of letters, there is nothing more to be said.

    Thanks for the lengthy response :smile: you seem to have looked quite a bit into the dispute.

    There is this article by Forbes, which is a reply to the comic. What do you (and everyone) think of it ?

    It does seem like the comic was meant to be merely humorous, as seen in the Oatmeal's reply to the article:
  9. Dec 1, 2013 #8
  10. Dec 1, 2013 #9


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    hmmm... I was wondering why Alex Knapp was a friend of mine on Facebook. Thanks!

    But the last two quotes from the oatmeal.... I have not a problem with either. :approve:
  11. Dec 2, 2013 #10
    I've never looked into the dispute. Just reading biographies provides you with some facts and you can automatically see when they're misrepresented elsewhere.

    Here again, when you enter into a dispute you get a different sort of result than when you just read the story of someone's career. Comparing what Forbes said with what Oatmeal said is to enter the Forbes vs Oatmeal dispute. That is bound to give you a skewed picture of what went on in the lives of Tesla and Edison. Rather than follow some debate about them, it's better to read the biographies and history yourself.
  12. Dec 2, 2013 #11


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    That is a good point. Do you recommend any specific biography for Edison and for Tesla?
  13. Dec 2, 2013 #12


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    It could have been worse. At least Tesla restricted his "really cool stuff that looks like magic" mostly to electricity. If he had used magnets and gyroscopes as well, the "cool factor" would have really gone supercritical.

    There's probably as much general misunderstanding about Einstein - except that you can play around with Tesla coils in your garage, but experimenting with relativity in our garage is a bit harder.
  14. Dec 2, 2013 #13
    Sorry, but I can't say that I do. I haven't encountered an individual biography of either that I'd say best sums them up.
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