Who is Nikola Tesla?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Nikola Tesla is the father of modern electricity and the inventor of the radio. He was among the most famous scientists or engineers of the 20th century, but his fame was tarnished by far-out claims he made regarding his technology. At one point or another claiming to have harnessed cosmic rays for power, built a "death ray" that could take out planes from miles away, and work on electric transmission devices that would have supposedly allowed consumers to power devices simply by sticking a wire into the ground. His claims have largely subsequently been championed by practitioners of pseudoscience and the occult, further tarnishing Tesla's legacy, but many sober scientists and engineers still regard Tesla as an inspiring figure and a great inventor.

The invention of fluorescent lights is attributed to Nikola Tesla.
The invention of fluorescent lights is attributed to Nikola Tesla.

Nikola Tesla was born 10 July 1856 in the village of Smiljan near Gospić, which was then a part of the Austrian Empire, now a part of Croatia. On 6 June, 1884, Nikola Tesla arrived in New York City, where he mostly remained for the rest of his life until he died impoverished on 7 January, 1943, at the age of 86. Although Tesla made millions throughout his life through the sales of his devices, he was poor with finance and spent huge sums of money on gargantuan electrical engineering projects that never bore fruit. However, for many, this eccentricity only added to his charm. His eccentricity, besides his numerous contributions to science and engineering, was arguably the main driving force for his worldwide fame throughout the early 20th century.

Thomas Edison believed that direct current electricity was better than alternating current.
Thomas Edison believed that direct current electricity was better than alternating current.

The number of scientific and engineering contributions made by Nikola Tesla was truly enormous. He invented the notion of alternating current, which, contrary to the beliefs of many powerful men at the time, including Thomas Edison, would never be more useful than the direct current. The modern power grid is based on alternating current. Tesla invented the AC motor, which helped jumpstart the Second Industrial Revolution in the 1900s and 1910s. He invented numerous systems for the wireless transmission of power and signals, the basis for the radio. He pioneered the tesla coil, the arc lamp, bladeless turbines, x-ray tubes, the spark plug, and fluorescent lights. The fundamental scientific unit of magnetism is named the tesla in his honor.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime wiseGEEK contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

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Discussion Comments


Niccolas Tesla was from the province of Kosovo, both Americans and Serbians manipulated his real identity for their own interest of heritage and fame. His inventions aren't mentioned anywhere but Thomas Edison's are as the inventor of electrical light in the history of the electrical lamp.


Your article on Tesla seems to put him in the category of nutty professor. He was anything but. His method of delivering electricity to anyone on the planet has nothing much to do with transmission devices.

You have missed the whole point of his harnessing of zero point energy as the source on unlimited energy. This is the big idea that the PTB want no one to know about. Rossi of Italy with his eCat devices, based on the work of Fleishmann/Pons, tap into the same quantum field of energy is based on the same concepts of Tesla.

Tesla was too far ahead of his time, a total flash of brilliance that was snuffed out by men who wanted to meter out energy that be easily metered and commodified. We are still being held back by the progeny of these selfish men.


1389 his ancestor's surname is Orlovic. He died in Kosovo, fighting against the Turkish Empire.


Going back to person #1, the majority of Tesla's ancestors were priests, both on his mother's and father's sides. Just an FYI - I'm doing my ninth grade research paper on Tesla. He is amazing.


Yes- what the above person said is true! And he invented electricity!


While Nikola Tesla was born in what is now Croatia, he was of Serbian descent. His father was a Christian-Orthodox priest, while most Croatians are Catholic.

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