When Serbian-American engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla set out to build his newest inventions he was called crazy by the people surrounding him. The serial inventor, in the face of tremendous odds, was able to prove most of his naysayers wrong. Along the way, he changed the world. Without Tesla, we might not have some of the most used high-tech gadgets currently available. Let’s explore the brilliant, frustrating, and downright weird life and times of Nikola Tesla.
He Was Born During A Lightning Storm
There may be no better foreshadowing for a birth than that of Nikola Tesla. His mother went into labor during a massive storm that led to fierce bolts of lightning that lit the sky. As his mother gave birth the midwife said it was a bad omen to give birth during a lightning storm.
In was nearly midnight in Serbia when Tesla was born and his mother was quick to stand up for her newborn son. After Tesla’s birth, the midwife said he would be a child of darkness. Tesla’s mother shot back, “No, he will be a child of light.”
Tesla’s Mom Was Also One Of His Biggest Inspirations In Life
Not only was Nikola Tesla born during a massive lightning storm, his mother also served as his inspiration thanks to her own fascination with electrical appliances.
Tesla’s mom, Djuka Mandic, invented small electrical appliance in her spare time. Tesla was often around his mom when she was in full-on invention mode. This was likely a big inspiration in Tesla’s life which focused largely on devices powered by electricity.
Wait until you see what where Tesla’s fascination with electricity led him throughout his life.
A Fascination With Electricity Is Born
Tesla, a genius by any account, had plans to start adult life in the field of mathematics and physics. He attended the Realschule, Karlstadt in 1873 followed by the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria, and the University of Prague. It was his job as an electrical engineer for a Budapest telephone company in 1881, however, that would direct his future.
While working on that job Tesla became fascinated by electricity and sought to explore the field. This decision would soon make him one of the most important inventors of all time.
A Breakthrough Invention With Motivation From A Stroll Through The Park
In 1883 Nikola Tesla was walking through a park with a friend in Strasbourg, France. It was during this walk that he came up with the idea for an induction motor. Essentially, an AC motor powered by electromagnetic induction.
Investors in Europe didn’t think his idea had a chance of working or becoming mainstream. Frustrated by a lack of support in Europe, Tesla packed up his bags and came to the United States where he worked in New York City for none other than Thomas Edison.
Niagara Falls Fulfills One Of Tesla’s Childhood Dreams
While most children are outside playing during their formative years, Nikola Tesla had other plans. He dreamed of building a massive hydroelectric plan that could power homes and his future investions.
In 1895, Tesla was tasked with designing the very first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls. It was this invention that would help fuel the rise in interest for his alternating current technology. Visiting Goat Island you will find a statue that was built in Tesla’s honor because of this achievement. His invention helped power the city of Buffalo, New York.
Solid Foods? Not For This Odd Inventor
As is often the case with famous inventors, Nikola Tesla had some curious quirks that stood out in any crowd. One of his more famous quirks was a decision to give up solid foods. How he accomplished this goal is almost as strange as the diet he chose.
Tesla chose to eat honey and drink bowls of warm milk, and made a special potion that included various vegetables such as celery and artichokes. If he did the same thing today he’s probably spur some new-age fad diet.
Tesla’s Sleep Schedule Was Insane
The drive to invent apparently overpowered Nikola Tesla’s body’s need for sleep. The famous investor chose to sleep in small spurts rather than dozing off for an acceptable seven to eight hours of sleep.
While Tesla admitted that he would sometimes fall asleep for a few hours, he preferred to take two hour naps throughout a 24 hour period. In one famous report, it was suggested that Tesla once worked for 84 hours straight before succumbing to slumber.
Tesla’s Discovery In 1882 May Have Changed The Course Of History
In 1882 Tesla was working tirelessly on his next big breakthrough and he found it when he discovered the rotating magnetic field. The principle forms the basis for all devices that require AC power to operate.
Tesla used the principle he discovered and built the AC induction motor and polyphase system for the generation, transmission, distribution and use of electric power. The breakthrough was a game changer in Tesla’s field.
Tesla Goes To War With Thomas Edison While Working In New Jersey
Thomas Edison believed DC electricity, which flows in one direction, was the best form to use for powering devices. Tesla didn’t agree, he wanted AC power which changes direction periodically.
The men were so adamant about their own views for electricity that it started the famous “war of the currents.” Edison, a very smart inventor in his own right eventually lost the battle because Tesla showed that AC power offers superior efficiency. AC power could also be transmitted over longer distances.
Tesla Partners With Westinghouse And Brings Electricity To America
In 1888 Nikola Tesla wrote a paper titled “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers.” In the paper Tesla explained his electrical systems and motors. The paper caught the eye of Westinghouse.
Tesla partnered with the company and they started building a power infrastructure that crisscrossed much of America. The power grid was built using an AC-driven system which is still used in the 21st century to deliver power to homes, businesses, and various other locations.
Nikola Invents The Tesla Coil Which Helped Develop Radios And TVs
It was 1891 when Tesla created an induction coil that was capable of producing high-frequency alternating currents. Today, we know the device as the Tesla coil.
Tesla used his coil to conduct experiments that produced electric lighting, X-rays, and wireless power. His new breakthrough would eventually help power radio and TV. Today, the coils have been replaced by new technologies but they are still often used for educational and entertainment purposes.
Tesla’s Radio Patent Proves He Built The Means For Such A System
If you’ve ever heard the nameGuglielmo Marconi it’s likely because he is credited with building the first radio system. In 1901 Marconi broadcast the world’s first transatlantic radio transmission.
However, it was actually Nikola Tesla who developed and patented the basic elements of a radio transmitter. Marconi simply took that technology and applied it to his radio. The two inventors ended up in court where they battled over the radio’s creation.
The Ominous Death Ray And The Impenetrable Wall Of Force
For all the good Nikola Tesla did for the future, he was also not afraid to apply his knowledge to more devious programs. Tesla believed he could create a “death beam” and then defend America from attacks with the creation of an “impenetrable wall of force.”
It’s important to note that Tesla hated the term “death ray” and once proclaimed, that he had built a “death beam” which he called Teleforce. When asked about his invention he said, “This invention of mine does not contemplate the use of any so-called ‘death rays.”
Tesla Was In Love With A Pigeon
Nikola Tesla spent most of his time inventing and that left very little time for a personal life. Throughout his famous life the inventor never married. However, he did manage to fall in love with a bird.
Tesla would often walk through the city’s parks to visualize his next invention. During those walks, he met a single white pigeon that would visit him every day. “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life,” Tesla allegedly proclaimed.
His Obsessive-Compulsiveness Was Easy To Spot
Nikola Tesla had an extreme case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. During his lifetime he was obsessed with the number three, couldn’t stand round objects, hated feeling hair, and was repulsed by jewelry.
One of Tesla’s biggest fears was pearls and he refused to talk to women who were wearing them. On one occasion he sent his secretary home when she showed up at his office wearing pearl jewelry. Tesla also had to walk around buildings three times before entering them. At least he was getting some OCD-based exercise!
Tesla Was Also A Germaphobe After Almost Dying As A Child
Along with his chronic OCD, Nikola Tesla was also a massive germaphobe. Tesla had become sick with cholera as a teenager and it led him to become fascinated with germs which then led to a rigid cleaning situation.
When he ate dinner Tesla wore white gloves to protect himself from germs. He also had to use exactly 18 napkins to wipe down his dining room every night. Tesla was also sure to follow an incredibly rigid personal hygiene routine.
One Of His Machine’s Cured Mark Twain’s Constipation
This might be one of the strangest stories from Tesla’s electrifying life. Tesla was working with devices that could provide for a high-frequency oscillator. Essentially, Tesla was building an earthquake machine. It was so powerful that it shook his Manhattan neighborhood when he was experimenting.
Tesla allegedly invited his friend Mark Twain to his office. Knowing about Twain’s issues with constipation, he asked the famous author to stand on the machine’s platform. Tesla turned on the device and Twain allegedly ran for the bathroom.
Tesla’s Brain Was Incredibly Unique In Several Fascinating Ways
Nikola Tesla could memorize entire books and pictures with perfect recall. He credited his memory with his horrible nightmares as a child. His memory served him in some unique ways while he invented his many inventions.
Tesla was rumored to store his “visions of numerous inventions” in his brain and recall that information vividly as needed for his work. He also was able to visualize his in 3D, allowing him to see all sides of his inventions before he ever picked up a tool or piece of paper to create them.
Some Of Tesla’s Inventions Are Still Classified
Nikola Tesla built many fascinating and brilliant inventions throughout this life. Many of those inventions power radios, cell phones, and other technology that’s still in use today. However, some of his work is still classified and being held by the U.S. Government.
The Office of Alien Property seized all of his belongings following the investors death. Some of those belongings were delivered to the Tesla museum in Belgrade and some were sent to his family. At least a small handful of his works are still considered unapproachable, even in the 21st century. Hmmm… Maybe that death beam does exist after all.
Tesla Boosted His Brain Power By Exercising His Toes
Tesla was a competitive person by his very nature and he used all means necessary to keep his brain functioning at a genius level. One of his more unusual practices involved a certain type of toe exercise.
Tesla would squish his toes 100 times every night. He believed that such an exercise would help stimulate his brain cells which would allow him to invent fascinating gadgets. Who are we to argue with one of the most brilliant minds mankind has ever known?
He Wanted To Power Earth Using High-Frequency Currents From The Planet’s Upper Atmosphere
Tesla was on a mission to power all of the planet and he had a radical theory that we could accomplish this goal using gases in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. He said those gases could carry high-frequency electrical currents which would create a “terrestrial night light.”
Tesla never gave up on his plans for “illuminating the whole earth artificially” but no scientist has yet to figure out exactly how such a seemingly crazy feat could be carried out.