Nikola Tesla... A Real Wizard!

By Karen Pereczes

As appeared in Aquila magazine. Copyright Karen Pereczes 2005.


"One day, man will connect his apparatus to the very wheel work of the universe... 

and the very forces that motivate the planets in their orbits and cause them to rotate 

will operate his own machinery." - Nikola Tesla.


Nikola Tesla was born in Yugoslavia 1856. He was called a madman by some... a genius by others, but is perhaps the greatest inventor the world has ever known. We still use many of his inventions every day, yet most people have never heard of him! This is why some people say he is the 'forgotten father of technology'.

Tesla introduced the world to the basics of robotics, computers, missile science, satellites, microwaves, remote control, solar power and mains electricity. Tesla also worked with radio-frequency electromagnetic waves and invented the radio.

Tesla wanted to invent a cheaper form of making power that did not use coal. He planned to use water and solar power to generate electricity. By using mirrors and magnifying glasses, he focused the sun's rays on one spot on a glass cylinder to generate heat, turning water into steam to operate a steam engine and generate electricity. This could be used at once or stored up in storage batteries to be used on days when there was no sunlight. His vision was to build a sun-station in every city and town so that each factory and home would get its supply of electricity from the nearest sun-station by ordinary electric wires.

In 1896 he made his famous Tesla Coil, called the 'Magnifying Transmitter', which was so big it filled an entire barn! The huge coil sent waves of electricity rippling all around the world and back to his Tesla Coil, where they made 65 foot long lightening bolts at 12 million volts and crashes of lightening at 75 thousand horsepower... that's enough electricity to power about 10 thousand homes! The thundering roar that accompanied these experiments could be heard ten miles away...

From these experiments, Tesla made the discovery of alternating electricity, which we use today in our homes and workplaces all over the world. Alternating electricity is when two wires change from positive to negative - alternating from one to the other. Our mains electricity today alternates at 50 times per second. If you listen closely, you can sometimes hear this as a hummmmm from many household appliances.

Tesla's work resulted in the first neon and fluorescent lights ever made. He discovered that he could make a lamp light up with no wires attached to it by using high frequency electricity that would pass through air. This would eventually be known as radio transmission. Tesla believed that all of the electricity we use could arrive at our homes without any wires.

Tesla invented a model boat that he controlled from a distance by using radio signals (remote control), sending it zipping around the water. Many people were amazed by this and thought that the boat had a brain of its own or that somehow Tesla was controlling it with his mind. 'It created a sensation such as no other invention of mine has ever produced,' Tesla would later write. He called the object a 'Teleautomaton' and thought of it as the first of many robots that would serve mankind.

Tesla also invented something he called 'Visual Telegraphy'. This was a telephone with pictures - so you could see your friends as well as talk to them! Imagine this in the days of cowboys and Indians, over 100 years ago - WOW!

Tesla discovered that the Earth could be used as a conductor of electrical vibrations of a certain frequency, which he used to send signals into space. He also received radio signals from space, which were only discovered in 1967 (24 years after Tesla’s death) to be the Pulsar - a special kind of pulsating star.


Further Information

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