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Who was Nikola Tesla?

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Axiomatic
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I just watched this youtube video online. I had no idea who Tesla was but this video really struck a chord with me. Tesla and his life is a true Roark type story. I wonder now what secrets of his inventions are kept classified by the US government and exactly how much of our lives today are impacted by Tesla's inventions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt8Y93k0pB0

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I just watched this youtube video online. I had no idea who Tesla was but this video really struck a chord with me. Tesla and his life is a true Roark type story. I wonder now what secrets of his inventions are kept classified by the US government and exactly how much of our lives today are impacted by Tesla's inventions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt8Y93k0pB0

He is not forgotten. We've had many discussions of him on this board, just do a search.

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I'd say most people interested in science know who Tesla was, since long before conspiracy theorists decided to make him the center of some of their myths, or Tesla Motors decided to use his name to market an unpractical (but fairly good looking) contraption as a sports car.

And the US government isn't keeping any of his inventions secret. As far as I know, they never even owned any of his inventions, since he didn't work for the US gov. Are you suggestion they broke into his house and stole them? What's your proof?

What is shocking is that I was taught about Edison and Bell, but never Tesla in school. Why did they miss this man out of my education? I suppose state run schools just don't have time for proper teaching.

I'm not sure it is the job of a physics teacher to tell you about Tesla's life. I suppose history class ought to mention him (I'm not sure they don't you should check an old manual if you have them), but, in the end, it's really not an essential part of basic education for students to study the biographies of great scientists.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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And the US government isn't keeping any of his inventions secret. As far as I know, they never even owned any of his inventions, since he didn't work for the US gov. Are you suggestion they broke into his house and stole them? What's your proof?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla the section on his Death explains how his inventions could be kept secret. To the extent that they *are* kept secret, I don't know.

Tesla's ideas are great and all, but it's not like he actually made a whole lot of things. What happened with JP Morgan was unfortunate, but that didn't have to be the end.

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I'd say most people interested in science know who Tesla was, since long before conspiracy theorists decided to make him the center of some of their myths, or Tesla Motors decided to use his name to market an unpractical (but fairly good looking) contraption as a sports car.

And the US government isn't keeping any of his inventions secret. As far as I know, they never even owned any of his inventions, since he didn't work for the US gov. Are you suggestion they broke into his house and stole them? What's your proof?

I'm not suggesting such a thing. I would not be surprised however if it were discovered to be the case that the Government are working on such things that Tesla's work had at least inspired if not directly influenced. The HAARP technology in recent development certainly springs to mind.

I'm not sure it is the job of a physics teacher to tell you about Tesla's life. I suppose history class ought to mention him (I'm not sure they don't you should check an old manual if you have them), but, in the end, it's really not an essential part of basic education for students to study the biographies of great scientists.

I think that learning of the lives of scientists and their struggles is an essential part of education for inspirational purposes. It is difficult to teach without inspiring the mind to want to learn more. As for my history class, we didn't even learn about the GREEKS! This is what state education in the UK is like. It is probably one of the worst in Europe from what I have heard.

Edited by Axiomatic
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As I understand, Tesla is pretty much responsible for many of the things we enjoy today: the electron microscope, fluorescent bulbs, neon lights, the speedometer, the microwave oven, radio, auto ignition system, x-rays, the first hydroelectric plant, and the basics behind the radar. Thomas Edison took advantage of him, stole many of his ideas, and gave him false promises of money to keep him. He was really a bully, maybe because he was insecure and knew Tesla was better than him, what a horrible man.

Edited by 0096 2251 2110 8105
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I'm not sure I understand what cause and effect relationship you are trying to indicate here?

If you intentionally alienate people, if you are eccentric to the point of distraction, if you rip up a contract that would have made you the world’s first billionaire people will discount you and you will die poor and mostly forgotten.

I am not discounting the mans genius, but his self destructive actions had their consequences.

Edited by Zip
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All my knowledge of Telsa comes from these youtube videos, and since they have a conspiracy feel to it, it makes me question their validity. However, in the videos it seems like Telsa tried to build the motor that John Galt was successful in making?

For an idea of the scale of his accomplishments, go to a site about the book titled

The Complete Patents of Nikola Tesla

with excerpts on Tesla's Automobile & Broadcast Power

http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/new/tesla.htm

<Φ>aj

Edited by aristotlejones
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If you intentionally alienate people, if you are eccentric to the point of distraction, if you rip up a contract that would have made you the world’s first billionaire people will discount you and you will die poor and mostly forgotten.

I am not discounting the mans genius, but his self destructive actions had their consequences.

How did he 'alienate people'? Could you not also think that the character of Roark 'alienated' people in TFH? The man just loved his work to an extreme and was highly intelligent. Genius tends to alienate to a certain degree. His behaviour was eccentric, yes, but that's not always completely the fault of the person. OCD is a very real disorder which I doubt they even diagnosed, let alone treated back then. Also, what contract is this that he ripped up? I must have missed that part of the article. What were the reasons behind him ripping up said contract?

Edited by Axiomatic
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oh. I didn't know that.

Something else interesting on the Wiki article.

Soon after his death Tesla's safe was opened by his nephew Sava Kosanović. Shortly thereafter Tesla's papers and other property were empounded by the United States' Alien Property Custodian office in Tesla's compound at the Manhattan Warehouse, even though he was a naturalized citizen. At the time of his death, Tesla had been working on the Teleforce weapon, or 'death ray,' that he had unsuccessfully marketed to the US War Department. It appears that Teleforce was related to his research into ball lightning and plasma, and was conceived as a particle beam weapon. The US government did not find a prototype of the device in the safe. After the FBI was contacted by the War Department, his papers were declared to be top secret. The personal effects were sequestered on the advice of presidential advisers; J. Edgar Hoover declared the case most secret, because of the nature of Tesla's inventions and patents.[100] One document stated that "[he] is reported to have some 80 trunks in different places containing transcripts and plans having to do with his experiments [...]".

So it appears that my intial suspicion was not so unfounded after all! :confused:

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the electron microscope

Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll

fluorescent bulbs

Peter Cooper Hewitt, and the modern one Edward E. Hammer

neon lights

Tesla, and no, Edison didn't steal it from him. Tesla just didn't bother to commercialize them, a man name George Claude did.

, the speedometer

Josip Belušić

the microwave oven

Percy Spencer

radio

Tesla was indeed the first person to describe all the elements necessary for building a radio. As far as I'm aware though, he never built one, the person who patented, built and sold the first radios was of course Marconi. Edison also patented some components, patents which the Marconi Company later purchased.

auto ignition system

not sure what that is

x-rays

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (which is why they are also called Rontgen rays)

the first hydroelectric plant

The first industrial use of hydropower to generate electricity occurred in 1880, when 16 brush-arc lamps were powered using a water turbine at the Wolverine Chair Factory in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Tesla was not involved.

the radar

Tesla described, never built it. Edison never stole it, the first man to build one was Émile Girardeau.

All this info is available on various easily accesible websites. Yes, I am bored, and have nothing better to do with myself right now, but it's also fun to read up on this stuff :confused:

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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All this info is available on various easily accesible websites. Yes, I am bored, and have nothing better to do with myself right now, but it's also fun to read up on this stuff :confused:

Fair enough. I merely saw a documentary on History Channel, but I guess it was not very reliable. However, I would still say that Tesla did invent the traditional (pre-digital) speedometer (US patent #1274816), and he was also credited as the inventor of the radio by the Supreme Court in 1943. There is still controversy about some of the inventions I listed, but he is indeed responsible for advancing many of the products of modern world, not for their commercial success, as he was always broke, and Edison trying to screw him over was only making it more difficult for him.

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I'd say most people interested in science know who Tesla was, since long before conspiracy theorists decided to make him the center of some of their myths, or Tesla Motors decided to use his name to market an unpractical (but fairly good looking) contraption as a sports car.

And the US government isn't keeping any of his inventions secret. As far as I know, they never even owned any of his inventions, since he didn't work for the US gov. Are you suggestion they broke into his house and stole them? What's your proof?

I'm not sure it is the job of a physics teacher to tell you about Tesla's life. I suppose history class ought to mention him (I'm not sure they don't you should check an old manual if you have them), but, in the end, it's really not an essential part of basic education for students to study the biographies of great scientists.

Actually, though this is a little off topic, I happen to believe that science is best taught chronologically and with respect to inventors.

So you start with the self evident observations (there are shiny dots in the sky) etc. Then you progress through each new theory, each new discovery and each better attempt at modeling that section of the universe. When you start without scientific background (as school children do), this is a great way to properly integrate a scientific theory.

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Tesla's ideas are great and all, but it's not like he actually made a whole lot of things.

Surely the quality of inventions matters more than their quantity. In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt also was not portrayed as having made "a whole lot of things"; only a few great things.

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Surely the quality of inventions matters more than their quantity. In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt also was not portrayed as having made "a whole lot of things"; only a few great things.

I had a book of Tesla inventions, and there were a ton in there. I'd say the quality was high, and so was the quantity.

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I had a book of Tesla inventions, and there were a ton in there. I'd say the quality was high, and so was the quantity.

Agreed. My point was that even if Tesla had only invented AC power distribution, for example, I would still call him one of the greatest inventors, based on the fundamental nature of this invention, and its incalculable impact on civilization.

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How did he 'alienate people'? Could you not also think that the character of Roark 'alienated' people in TFH? The man just loved his work to an extreme and was highly intelligent. Genius tends to alienate to a certain degree. His behaviour was eccentric, yes, but that's not always completely the fault of the person. OCD is a very real disorder which I doubt they even diagnosed, let alone treated back then. Also, what contract is this that he ripped up? I must have missed that part of the article. What were the reasons behind him ripping up said contract?

You do know that TFH is a novel correct? The simple fact of the matter is that people who are as eccentric as Tesla are often overshadowed by lesser men because their disposition makes them damn near impossible to deal with.

Roark was written as a hero and the novel had a suitable (for literary purposes) heroic end. But the fact is that real people don't deal well with people like Tesla, (or Roark) and the historical record and Tesla's practical nonexistence in it is proof of that and even if he'd delivered the courtroom speech he'd still have been overshadowed by Edison and his ilk..

Yes OCD is a real disorder, so what, what is your point? People are not going to cut an inventor slack because he has OCD, and obviously history has not cut Tesla any.

From the wiki article I linked to earlier...

He ripped up a Westinghouse contract that would have made him the world's first billionaire, in part because of the implications it would have on his future vision of free power, and in part because it would run Westinghouse out of business, and Tesla had no desire to deal with the creditors.
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Actually, though this is a little off topic, I happen to believe that science is best taught chronologically and with respect to inventors.

So you start with the self evident observations (there are shiny dots in the sky) etc. Then you progress through each new theory, each new discovery and each better attempt at modeling that section of the universe. When you start without scientific background (as school children do), this is a great way to properly integrate a scientific theory.

I have two big counter arguments, and a small one:

1. Children need knowledge in the order they need it now, in the modern world, not in the order it was discovered or created, to serve the very different needs of people in other ages. You have to start with the important stuff, follow up with the less important stuff, even if the big thing came later (such as the existence of America was only discovered 500 years ago; computer science before the more complicated aspects of Euclid's geometry; fact that Pluto is not a planet was determined a few years ago--are you saying students should be informed 3 hours before graduation: "Oh, by the way, forget the nine planet thing you thought was true for 12 years, Pluto is not a planet"?

2. Hind sight makes some pretty confusing issues geniuses struggled with over the years, easy to understand even for a child. For instance, in Philosophy, if you teach Ayn Rand before Kant, Nietzsche, and Descartes, etc., understanding the subject becomes far easier than if you end up reading Ayn Rand at the end of a long and bumpy road full of indecipherable nonsense, including Wittgenstein and Sartre. Also, Darwin should be taught before other theories on the origin of species, for the same reason.

3. (the small one) I would estimate there to be way too much information for a child to learn, even in the course of twelve years, if we look at all the scientists and inventors who shaped aspects of modern technology and science, that are essential to a basic understanding of the subject.

It sounds good, at a quick glance, but you'd run into problems very quickly, in practice.

[edited for clarity (bulletpoints added) :) ]

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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