157 years since birth of Nikola Tesla

BELGRADE -- Serbian-American scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla was born on this day in 1856 in Smiljan, Austria-Hungary - the modern-day territory of Croatia.

Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla

The son of an Orthodox Serbian priest, Tesla studied electrical engineering at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, but did not complete the school.

Nevertheless, many of his inventions set the direction for mankind's scientific and technical development in the 20th century.

Unlike the major electrical engineers of his time, Tesla championed alternating current. The great scientist's major contributions to science and global technological progress include rotating magnetic field induction motor and polyphase alternating current power distribution system.

The famous inventor constructed electrical resonant transformer circuits producing high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity, known today as “Tesla Coils.”

In mid-1882, Tesla went to Paris, and began working for the Continental Edison Company, designing and making improvements to electrical equipment. In 1883, he moved to Strasbourg, where he privately built his first prototype of the induction motor and ran it successfully.

After failed attempts to interest anyone in Europe in promoting this radical invention, Tesla accepted an offer to work for Thomas Edison and relocated to New York City in June 1884.

He left Edison over unsatisfactory payment arrangements in 1885 to form his own Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing Company in 1886, which applied his electric-arc lamp patents for lighting the streets of New York and other cities.

In 1887, he established Tesla Electric Company with an aim of implementing his inventions in the field of polyphase alternating currents and constructed his first polyphase induction motors and generators.

In May 1888, he delivered a lecture on the new system of alternating current motors and transformers before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in New York, after which George Westinghouse, the famous inventor and manufacturer, bought Tesla's polyphase systems patents.

In 1888 and 1889, Tesla was a consultant for the production of electrical machines made according to his patents in Westinghouse's company in Pittsburgh.

In 1895, he designed the first hydroelectric power plant in Niagara Falls, viewed as the alternating current's final victory, an achievement that was covered widely in the world press.

The plant was opened for commercial use by delivering electric power to the city of Buffalo on November 15, 1896, and before long, declared a world wonder.

In the 1890s, he conducted many experiments with alternate currents of high potential and high frequency and gave lectures on them.

He demonstrated his original concept of radio transmission, based on electrical resonance of four tuned circuits for transmitting and receiving, in his famous lecture at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in 1893. By showing that an aerial, connection with the ground and resonance were three essential elements of wireless telegraphy, he paved the way to modern radio technology.

He was one of the first scientists on the American continent to make X-rays of hands, skull, knees and elbows, and was the first researcher to point to the very harmful effects of X-rays on the human body if parts of it are exposed to the radiation for too long.

Tesla was a pioneer of radio, wireless telegraphy, and radar technology. Without Tesla's inventions, the civilization as we know it would have a completely differently look.

His name was given to the SI derived unit of magnetic magnetic-field strength or magnetic-flux density, “tesla” (symbol T).

Tesla passed away in January 1943, in the midst of World War II. He was buried in a New York cemetery on January 12, after a funeral service for him was held at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan.