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Nikola Tesla Inventeur

 

  • Nikola Tesla
    Inventeur
  • Nikola Tesla, né le 10 juillet 1856 à Smiljan, dans l’Empire d’Autriche, et mort le 7 janvier 1943 à New York, aux États-Unis, est un inventeur et ingénieur serbe de la Croatie, également citoyen … Wikipédia
  • Naissance : 10 juillet 1856, Smiljan, Croatie
  • Distinctions et récompenses : Médaille IEEE Edison, Médaille John Scott
  • Nikola Tesla

    Première partie :

    les inventions

    Né dans la nuit du 9 au 10 juillet 1856, à minuit précises, dans la petite ville de Smiljan en Autriche-Hongrie, il devint l’un des inventeurs les plus extraordinaires des temps modernes. Annoncé à tort comme Prix Nobel le 6 novembre 1915 à la une du New York Times, il fut néanmoins auteur de plus de 900 brevets traitant de nouvelles méthodes pour aborder la conversion de l’énergie, récipiendaire de quatorze doctorats des universités du monde entier et en capacité de maîtriser 12 langues. Il mourut triste et oublié le 7 janvier 1943.
    Hormis le fait qu’il est doté d’une mémoire photographique hors pair, il a le talent nécessaire pour expliquer dans un langage adéquat et compréhensible sa vision de l’univers dans lequel il évolue. Il suffit de voir comment il définit l’électricité et le magnétisme :
    «  Un monde infinitésimal, constitué de molécules et de leurs atomes tournant sur eux-mêmes et se déplaçant le long de leurs orbites, à la manière des corps célestes, entraînant avec eux l’éther en le faisant probablement tourner ou, en d’autres termes, porteurs de charges statiques, me semble l’explication la plus probable, et celle qui rend le mieux compte de la plupart des phénomènes observés. Les rotations des molécules autour d’elles-mêmes et de leur éther définissent les tensions de l’éther ou tensions électrostatiques; l’égalisation des tensions de l’éther crée d’autres mouvements ou courants électriques, et les mouvements orbitaux produisent les effets de l’électromagnétisme et du magnétisme permanent. »

    Entre 1882 et 1888, il a breveté plusieurs dispositifs qui utilisaient des champs magnétiques tournants pour transmettre de l’électricité par courants alternatifs. En fait, il lança les idées qui permirent de concevoir tout le matériel moderne de génération et de transport de l’électricité. Il devint citoyen américain le 30 juillet 1891 et c’est dans ces années qu’il inventa un système générant des tensions extrêmement élevées : la bobine Tesla.

    Entre 1891 et 1893, il breveta le système sans fil Tesla (radio télégraphe) et mit au point des lampes électroniques froides. C’est en 1892 que Nikola Tesla, un soir d’orage, constata un phénomène naturel qui influença ses recherches ultérieures : « Le ciel se chargeait de nuages noirs, mais la pluie ne tombait toujours pas, quand, tout à coup, il y eut un éclair, et tout de suite après, le déluge.(…) Manifestement les deux phénomènes avaient un lien étroit de cause à effet. Après quelque réflexion je conclus que l’énergie électrique contenue dans la précipitation d’eau était insignifiante, et que l’éclair jouait le même rôle de déclenchement qu’un commutateur.(…) Si l’on parvenait à produire des orages électriques de l’intensité voulue, on pourrait modifier la planète entière et les conditions de vie à sa surface.(…) S’il était en notre pouvoir de le bouleverser (le cycle de l’eau) où et quand c’est nécessaire, on pourrait contrôler à volonté cet élément vital qu’est l’eau. »

    Entre 1896 et 1898, il publia une théorie toujours valable sur la radioactivité et l’énergie rayonnante. Au cours de ces années, il mit au point des tubes à vide à potentiel élevé (les ancêtres des lampes fluorescentes que le monde entier utilise aujourd’hui). Il mena de pair cette étude avec celle de la transmission d’énergie sans fil : la radio. Une expérience lui montra que l’électricité, lorsqu’elle est soumise à de hautes fréquences, a tendance à s’écouler plus facilement à travers le gaz plutôt que par le métal, sous certaines conditions. Ces conditions correspondent à celle de l’atmosphère à une altitude élevée. A contrario, la basse atmosphère se comporte comme un parfait isolant. Vers 1898, il construisit des transformateurs à hautes fréquences capables de produire des forces électromotrices de plusieurs millions de volts. C’est alors qu’il s’aperçut que les courants produits par ces bobines étaient conduits librement, même dans l’atmosphère.

    Il ne voit alors plus de limite de quantité et de distance dans la transmission d’énergie électrique par le biais de l’atmosphère. Il va jusqu’à supposer à la suite d’une expérience qui fut les prémisses de la transmission par micro-ondes, qu’à plus grande échelle, ce transfert aérien d’énergie pourrait provoquer une illumination de l’atmosphère, à l’image de nos lampes fluorescentes. De plus, grâce aux réactions chimiques que provoquent ces émissions, on pourrait extraire de l’azote de l’air et fabriquer un engrais rentable.

    En 1899, il présenta à la marine américaine un sous-marin électrique à commande radio. Il publia la même année des documents expliquant sa découverte de la résonnance terrestre et de la loi de la propagation de courants conducteurs à travers le globe.

    Au cours de l’été de 1899, Tesla construisit et essaya l’un des dispositifs les plus incroyables que l’humanité ait vu. Tesla avait choisi les montagnes Rocheuses à cause de leurs fréquents orages électriques. L’idée de Tesla était de se brancher sur les nuages très chargés à partir de la terre. Il avait déjà établi que les éclairs de ces orages semblaient se décharger selon une forme d’onde stationnaire particulière qui encerclait la planète entière. Tesla avait convaincu le Colonel John Jacob Astor (du renommé Waldorf Astoria) de jouer 30 000$ sur son essai d’été.

    Nikola Tesla dans sa station expérimentale de Colorado Springs
    La société des produits déshydratés Simpson and Crawford fournit 10 000$ pour le projet et M. Leonard E. Curtis propriétaire de la Colorado Spring Electric Company, fournit le terrain et l’utilisation de l’une de ses centrales de la Colorado Springs. Il s’installa sur un terrain situé à l’est de Colorado Springs, à proximité du mont Pike, à une altitude de 1800 mètres.

     

    Il y fit construire une station expérimentale surplombée d’un mât métallique de 37 mètres à l’extrémité du quel figure une boule de cuivre de 90 centimètres. Il équipe sa station d’un puissant émetteur amplificateur. Quand il le met en marche, les paratonnerres situés dans un rayon de 30 kilomètres sont continuellement reliés par des éclairs.
    En se basant sur la théorie des oscillations mécaniques et de la résonance, on sait que lorsque la fréquence de la force excitante est égale à la fréquence propre du système, l’amplitude du mouvement de l’oscillateur est maximale, ce maximum étant d’autant plus aigu que l’amortissement est faible. Tesla applique ce principe au flux d’électricité produit par son oscillateur géant. Celui-ci se propage dans le système Terre-ionosphère, d’abord en cercles de plus en plus grands, puis en cercles plus petits mais avec une intensité croissante, et convergente en un point du globe directement opposé à Colorado Springs, dans l’océan indien. Un « Pôle Sud » électrique se crée avec une onde stationnaire proportionnelle à l’émission du « Pôle Nord » du Colorado. La théorie voudrait que l’intensité augmente suivant les flux et les reflux de l’onde. Mais comme la Terre n’est pas un circuit résonnant parfait, les déperditions font qu’une énergie stabilisée est récupérable à n’importe quel point du globe, et ceci par un simple récepteur radio adapté.
    Sur le « Electrical World and Engineer » du 5 mai 1904, Tesla déclarait, au sujet de son essai réussi du 3 juillet 1899 : « J’ai le premier obtenu la première preuve expérimentale décisive d’une vérité pour le plus grand avancement de l’humanité. (…) Des arcs gros, longs et persistants (éclairs) se formaient presque à intervalles réguliers… aucun doute là-dessus, nous étions en train d’observer des ondes stationnaires. (…) L’énorme signification de ce fait dans la transmission d’énergie par mon système était déjà devenue très claire pour moi […]. »
    Tesla avait découvert un système qui permettait de transmettre des quantités presque illimitées d’énergie électrique n’importe où sur terre avec des pertes négligeables.

    Energie Du Vide Nikola Tesla
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    Nikola Tesla

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    For other uses, see Tesla.
    Nikola Tesla
    Tesla circa 1890.jpeg

    Tesla, aged 34, 1890, photo by Napoleon Sarony
    Born 10 July 1856
    Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia)
    Died 7 January 1943 (aged 86)
    New York City, New York
    Cause of death
    Coronary thrombosis
    Citizenship Austrian Empire (10 July 1856 – 1867)
    United States (30 July 1891 – 7 January 1943)
    Education Graz University of Technology (dropped out)
    Engineering career
    Engineering discipline Electrical engineering
    Mechanical engineering
    Significant projects Alternating current,
    high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments
    Significant design Induction motor
    Rotating magnetic field
    Tesla coil
    Radio remote control vehicle (torpedo)[1]:355
    Significant awards
    Signature TeslaSignature.svg

    Nikola Tesla (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Тесла; 10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian American[2][3][4] inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.[5]

    Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before immigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla for a short time as a consultant. His work in the formative years of electric power development was involved in a corporate alternating current/direct current « War of Currents » as well as various patent battles. Tesla went on to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs and made early (1893) pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. He tried to put these ideas to practical use in his ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission, which was his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project.[6] In his lab he also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.

    Tesla was renowned for his achievements and showmanship, eventually earning him a reputation in popular culture as an archetypal « mad scientist. »[7] His patents earned him a considerable amount of money, much of which was used to finance his own projects with varying degrees of success.[8]:121,154 He lived most of his life in a series of New York hotels, through his retirement. He died on 7 January 1943.[9] His work fell into relative obscurity after his death, but in 1960 the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor.[10] Tesla has experienced a resurgence in interest in popular culture since the 1990s.[11]

    Contents

    Early years (1856–1885)

    Tesla wearing a folk costume, c. 1880.

    Rebuilt, Tesla’s house (parish hall) in Smiljan, Croatia, where he was born, and the rebuilt church, where his father served. During the Yugoslav Wars, several of the buildings were severely damaged by fire. They were restored and reopened in 2006.[12]

    Tesla’s baptismal record, 28 June 1856.

    Nikola Tesla’s father Milutin, Orthodox priest in the village of Smiljan.

    Nikola Tesla was born on 10 July (O.S. 28 June) 1856 to Serbian parents in the village of Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia).[13][14] His father, Milutin Tesla, was an Orthodox priest.[15][16][17][18] Tesla’s mother, Đuka Tesla (née Mandić), whose father was also an Orthodox priest,[13]:10 had a talent for making home craft tools, mechanical appliances, and the ability to memorize Serbian epic poems. Đuka had never received a formal education. Nikola credited his eidetic memory and creative abilities to his mother’s genetics and influence.[8][19] Tesla’s progenitors were from western Serbia, near Montenegro.[13]:12

    Tesla was the fourth of five children. He had an older brother named Dane and three sisters, Milka, Angelina and Marica. Dane was killed in a horse-riding accident when Nikola was five.[20] In 1861, Tesla attended the « Lower » or « Primary » School in Smiljan where he studied German, arithmetic, and religion.[21] In 1862, the Tesla family moved to Gospić, Austrian Empire, where Tesla’s father worked as a pastor. Nikola completed « Lower » or « Primary » School, followed by the « Lower Real Gymnasium » or « Normal School. »[22]

    In 1870, Tesla moved to Karlovac, Croatia[23] to attend school at the Higher Real Gymnasium, where he was profoundly influenced by a math teacher Martin Sekulić.[13]:32[24] Tesla was able to perform integral calculus in his head, which prompted his teachers to believe that he was cheating.[25] He finished a four-year term in three years, graduating in 1873.[13]:33

    In 1873, Tesla returned to his birthtown, Smiljan. Shortly after he arrived, Tesla contracted cholera; he was bedridden for nine months and was near death multiple times. Tesla’s father, in a moment of despair, promised to send him to the best engineering school if he recovered from the illness[23][24] (his father had originally wanted him to enter the priesthood).[26]

    In 1874, Tesla evaded being drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in Smiljan[27] by running away to Tomingaj, near Gračac. There, he explored the mountains in hunter’s garb. Tesla said that this contact with nature made him stronger, both physically and mentally.[24] He read many books while in Tomingaj, and later said that Mark Twain‘s works had helped him to miraculously recover from his earlier illness.[23]

    In 1875, Tesla enrolled at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria, on a Military Frontier scholarship. During his first year, Tesla never missed a lecture, earned the highest grades possible, passed nine exams[23][24] (nearly twice as many required[13]), started a Serbian culture club,[24] and even received a letter of commendation from the dean of the technical faculty to his father, which stated, « Your son is a star of first rank. »[13] Tesla claimed that he worked from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m., no Sundays or holidays excepted.[23] He was « mortified when [his] father made light of [those] hard won honors. » After his father’s death in 1879,[27] Tesla found a package of letters from his professors to his father, warning that unless he were removed from the school, Tesla would be killed through overwork.[23] During his second year, Tesla came into conflict with Professor Poeschl over the Gramme dynamo, when Tesla suggested that commutators weren’t necessary. At the end of his second year, Tesla lost his scholarship and became addicted to gambling.[23][24] During his third year, Tesla gambled away his allowance and his tuition money, later gambling back his initial losses and returning the balance to his family. Tesla said that he « conquered [his] passion then and there, » but later he was known to play billiards in the US. When exam time came, Tesla was unprepared and asked for an extension to study, but was denied. He never graduated from the university and did not receive grades for the last semester.[27]

    In December 1878, Tesla left Graz and severed all relations with his family to hide the fact that he dropped out of school.[27] His friends thought that he had drowned in the Mur River.[28] Tesla went to Maribor (now in Slovenia), where he worked as a draftsman for 60 florins a month. He spent his spare time playing cards with local men on the streets.[27] In March 1879, Milutin Tesla went to Maribor to beg his son to return home, but Nikola refused.[29] Nikola suffered a nervous breakdown at around the same time.[28]

    Tesla aged 23, c. 1879

    On 24 March 1879, Tesla was returned to Gospić under police guard for not having a residence permit. On 17 April 1879, Milutin Tesla died at the age of 60 after contracting an unspecified illness[30] (although some sources say that he died of a stroke[31]). During that year, Tesla taught a large class of students in his old school, Higher Real Gymnasium, in Gospić.[30]

    In January 1880, two of Tesla’s uncles put together enough money to help him leave Gospić for Prague where he was to study. Unfortunately, he arrived too late to enroll at Charles-Ferdinand University; he never studied Greek, a required subject; and he was illiterate in Czech, another required subject. Tesla did, however, attend lectures at the university, although, as an auditor, he did not receive grades for the courses.[32][33][34]

    In 1881, Tesla moved to Budapest to work under Ferenc Puskas at a telegraph company, the Budapest Telephone Exchange. Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office instead. Within a few months, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional and Tesla was allocated the chief electrician position.[35] During his employment, Tesla made many improvements to the Central Station equipment and claimed to have perfected a telephone repeater or amplifier, which was never patented nor publicly described.[23]

    Working for Edison

    In 1882, Tesla began working for the Continental Edison Company in France, designing and making improvements to electrical equipment.[36] In June 1884, he relocated to New York City[13]:57–60[37] where he was hired by Thomas Edison to work for his Edison Machine Works. Tesla’s work for Edison began with simple electrical engineering and quickly progressed to solving more difficult problems.[38]

    Tesla was offered the task of completely redesigning the Edison Company’s direct current generators. In 1885, he said that he could redesign Edison’s inefficient motor and generators, making an improvement in both service and economy. According to Tesla, Edison remarked, « There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you—if you can do it »[8]:54–57—this has been noted as an odd statement from an Edison whose company was stingy with pay and who did not have that sort of cash on hand.[1]:110 After months of work, Tesla fulfilled the task and inquired about payment. Edison, saying that he was only joking, replied, « Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor. »[13]:64[39] Instead, Edison offered a US$10 a week raise over Tesla’s US$18 per week salary; Tesla refused the offer and immediately resigned.[8]

    Middle years (1886–1899)

    After leaving Edison’s company Tesla partnered with two businessmen in 1886, Robert Lane and Benjamin Vale, who agreed to finance an electric lighting company in Tesla’s name, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing.[40] The company installed electrical arc light based illumination systems designed by Tesla and also had designs for dynamo electric machine commutators, the first patents issued to Tesla in the US.[1]

    The investors showed little interest in Tesla’s ideas for new types of motors and electrical transmission equipment and also seemed to think it was better to develop an electrical utility than invent new systems.[41] They eventually forced Tesla out leaving him penniless. He even lost control of the patents he had generated since he had assigned them to the company in lieu of stock.[41] He had to work at various electrical repair jobs and even as a ditch digger for $2 per day. Tesla considered the winter of 1886/1887 as a time of « terrible headaches and bitter tears. » During this time, he questioned the value of his education.[1][42]

    AC and the induction motor

    Drawing from U.S. Patent 381,968, illustrating principle of Tesla’s alternating current induction motor

    In late 1886 Tesla met Alfred S. Brown, a Western Union superintendent, and New York attorney Charles F. Peck. The two men were experienced in setting up companies and promoting inventions and patents for financial gain.[43] Based on Tesla’s patents and other ideas they agreed to back him financially and handle his patents. Together in April 1887 they formed the Tesla Electric Company with an agreement that profits from generated patents would go 1/3 to Tesla, 1/3 to Peck and Brown, and 1/3 to fund development.[43] They set up a laboratory for Tesla at 89 Liberty Street in Manhattan where he worked on improving and developing new types of electric motors, generators and other devices.

    One of the things Tesla developed at that laboratory in 1887 was an induction motor that ran on alternating current, a power system format that was starting to be built in Europe and the US because of its advantages in long distance high voltage transmission. The motor used polyphase current which generated a rotating magnetic field to turn the motor (a principle Tesla claimed to have conceived of in 1882).[44][45][46] This innovative electric motor, patented in May 1888, was a simple self-starting design that did not need a commutator, thus avoiding sparking and the high maintenance of constantly servicing and replacing mechanical brushes.[1]:161[47]

    In 1888, the editor of Electrical World magazine, Thomas Commerford Martin (a friend and publicist), arranged for Tesla to demonstrate his alternating current system, including his induction motor, at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE).[48] Engineers working for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company reported to George Westinghouse that Tesla had a viable AC motor and related power system—something to which Westinghouse had been trying to secure patents. Westinghouse looked into getting a patent on a similar commutatorless rotating magnetic field based induction motor presented in a paper in March 1888 by the Italian physicist Galileo Ferraris but decided Tesla’s patent would probably control the market.[1]:160–162[49]

    Nikola Tesla’s AC dynamo-electric machine (AC Electric generator) in an 1888 U.S. Patent 390,721.

    In July 1888, Brown and Peck negotiated a licensing deal with George Westinghouse for Tesla’s polyphase induction motor and transformer designs for $60,000 in cash and stock and a royalty of $2.50 per AC horsepower produced by each motor. Westinghouse also hired Tesla for one year for the large fee of $2,000 ($52,500 in today’s dollars[50]) per month to be a consultant at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company’s Pittsburgh labs.[51]

    During that year, Tesla worked in Pittsburgh, helping to create an alternating current system to power the city’s streetcars. He found the time there frustrating because of conflicts between him and the other Westinghouse engineers over how best to implement AC power. Between them, they settled on a 60-cycle AC current system Tesla proposed (to match the working frequency of Tesla’s motor), although they soon found that, since Tesla’s induction motor could only run at a constant speed, it would not work for street cars. They ended up using a DC traction motor instead.[52][53]

    War of Currents

    Tesla’s demonstration of his induction motor and Westinghouse’s subsequent licensing of the patent, both in 1888, put Tesla firmly on the « AC » side of the so-called « War of Currents, »[54] an electrical distribution battle being waged between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse that had been simmering since Westinghouse’s first AC system in 1886 and had reached the point of all out warfare by 1888.[55][56][57] This started out as a competition between rival lighting systems with Edison holding all the patents for DC and the incandescent light and Westinghouse using his own patented AC system to power arc lights as well as incandescent lamps of a slightly different design to get around the Edison patent.[58] The acquisition of a feasible AC motor gave Westinghouse a key patent in building a completely integrated AC system, but the financial strain of buying up patents and hiring the engineers needed to build it meant development of Tesla’s motor had to be put on hold for a while.[59] The competition resulted in Edison Machine Works pursuing AC development in 1890 and by 1892 Thomas Edison was no longer in control of his own company, which was consolidated into the conglomerate General Electric and converting to an AC delivery system at that point.

    The « Tesla Polyphase System »

    A Westinghouse display of the « TESLA POLYPHASE SYSTEM » at Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition

    At the beginning of 1893 Westinghouse engineer Benjamin Lamme had made great progress developing an efficient version of Tesla’s induction motor and Westinghouse Electric started branding their complete polyphase phase AC system as the « Tesla Polyphase System », noting how they believed Tesla’s patents gave them patent priority over other AC systems.[60]

    In 1893, George Westinghouse won the bid to light the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago with alternating current, beating out a General Electric bid by one million dollars.[61] This World’s Fair devoted a building to electrical exhibits. It was a key event in the history of AC power, as Westinghouse demonstrated the safety, reliability, and efficiency of a fully integrated alternating current system to the American public.[62][63] At the Columbian Exposition, under a banner announcing the « Tesla Polyphase System », Tesla demonstrated a series of electrical effects previously performed throughout America and Europe,[8]:76 included using high-voltage, high-frequency alternating current to light a wireless gas-discharge lamp.[8]:79 An observer noted:

    Within the room was suspended two hard-rubber plates covered with tin foil. These were about fifteen feet apart, and served as terminals of the wires leading from the transformers. When the current was turned on, the lamps or tubes, which had no wires connected to them, but lay on a table between the suspended plates, or which might be held in the hand in almost any part of the room, were made luminous. These were the same experiments and the same apparatus shown by Tesla in London about two years previous, « where they produced so much wonder and astonishment ».[64]

    Tesla also explained the principles of the rotating magnetic field in an induction motor by demonstrating how to make a copper egg stand on end using a device he constructed known as the Egg of Columbus.[65]

    Niagara and patents

    In 1893 Richard Dean Adams, who headed up the Niagara Falls Cataract Construction Company sought Tesla’s opinion on what system would be best to transmit power generated at the falls. Over several years there had been an off again – on again series of proposals and open competitions on how best to utilize power generated by the falls with many systems being proposed by several US and European companies including two phase and three phase AC, high voltage DC, and even compressed air. Adams pumped Tesla for information about the current state of all the competing systems, with Tesla advised Adams that a two phased system would be the most reliable and that there was a Westinghouse system to light incandescent bulbs using two phase alternating current. Based on Tesla’s advice and Westinghouses demonstration that they could build a complete AC system at the Colombian Exposition, a contract for building a two phase AC generating system at the Niagara Falls was awarded to Westinghouse Electric. A further contract to build the AC distribution system was awarded to General Electric..[66]

    The mid 1890s saw the conglomerate General Electric, backed by financier J. P. Morgan, involved in take over attempts and patent battles with Westinghouse Electric. Although a patent sharing agreement was signed between the two companies in 1896[67] Westinghouse was still cashed strapped from the financial warfare. To secure further loans Westinghouse was forced to revisit Tesla’s AC patent, which bankers considered a financial strain on the company[68][69] (at that point Westinghouse had paid out an estimated $200,000 in licenses and royalties to Tesla, Brown, and Peck[70]). In 1897, Westinghouse explained his financial difficulties to Tesla in stark terms, saying that if things continue the way they were he would no longer be in control of Westinghouse Electric and Tesla would have to « deal with the bankers » to try to collect future royalties. Westinghouse convinced Tesla to release his company from the licensing agreement over Tesla’s AC patents in exchange for Westinghouse Electric purchasing the patents for a lump sum payment of $216,000;[8]:73–74 this provided Westinghouse a break from what, due to alternating current’s rapid gain in popularity, had turned out to be an overly generous $2.50 per AC horsepower royalty.[51]

    American citizenship

    On 30 July 1891, at the age of 35, Tesla became a naturalized citizen of the United States,[71] and established his South Fifth Avenue laboratory, and later another at 46 E. Houston Street, in New York. He lit electric lamps wirelessly at both locations, demonstrating the potential of wireless power transmission.[72] In the same year, he patented the Tesla coil.[73]

    Tesla served as vice president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the forerunner (along with the Institute of Radio Engineers) of the modern-day IEEE, from 1892 to 1894.[74]

    X-ray experimentation

    X-ray of a hand taken by Tesla.

    Starting in 1894, Tesla began investigating what he referred to as radiant energy of « invisible » kinds after he had noticed damaged film in his laboratory in previous experiments[75][76] (later identified as « Roentgen rays » or « X-Rays« ). His early experiments were with Crookes tubes, a cold cathode electrical discharge tube. Soon after, much of Tesla’s early research—hundreds of invention models, plans, notes, laboratory data, tools, photographs, valued at $50,000—was lost in the 5th Avenue laboratory fire of March 1895. Tesla is quoted by The New York Times as saying, « I am in too much grief to talk. What can I say? »[77] Tesla may have inadvertently captured an X-ray image (predating Wilhelm Röntgen‘s December 1895 announcement of the discovery of x-rays by a few weeks) when he tried to photograph Mark Twain illuminated by a Geissler tube, an earlier type of gas discharge tube. The only thing captured in the image was the metal locking screw on the camera lens.[8]:134

    In March 1896, after hearing of Wilhelm Röntgen‘s discovery of X-ray and X-ray imaging (radiography),[78] Tesla proceeded to do his own experiments in X-ray imaging, developing a high energy single terminal vacuum tube of his own design that had no target electrode and that worked from the output of the Tesla Coil (the modern term for the phenomenon produced by this device is bremsstrahlung or braking radiation). In his research, Tesla devised several experimental setups to produce X-rays. Tesla held that, with his circuits, the « instrument will … enable one to generate Roentgen rays of much greater power than obtainable with ordinary apparatus. »[79]

    Tesla noted the hazards of working with his circuit and single-node X-ray-producing devices. In his many notes on the early investigation of this phenomenon, he attributed the skin damage to various causes. He believed early on that damage to the skin was not caused by the Roentgen rays, but by the ozone generated in contact with the skin, and to a lesser extent, by nitrous acid. Tesla incorrectly believed that X-rays were longitudinal waves, such as those produced in waves in plasma. These plasma waves can occur in force-free magnetic fields.[80][81]

    On 11 July 1934, the New York Herald Tribune published an article on Tesla, in which he recalled an event that would occasionally take place while experimenting with his single-electrode vacuum tubes; a minute particle would break off the cathode, pass out of the tube, and physically strike him. « Tesla said he could feel a sharp stinging pain where it entered his body, and again at the place where it passed out. » In comparing these particles with the bits of metal projected by his « electric gun, » Tesla said, « The particles in the beam of force … will travel much faster than such particles … and they will travel in concentrations. »[82]

    Radio

    Wireless transmission of power and energy demonstration during his 1891 lecture on high frequency and potential.

    Tesla’s theories on the possibility of the transmission by radio waves go back as far as lectures and demonstrations in 1893 in St. Louis, Missouri, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the National Electric Light Association.[83] Tesla’s demonstrations and principles were written about widely through various media outlets.[84] Many devices such as the Tesla Coil were used in the further development of radio.[85]

    In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat (U.S. Patent 613,809 —Method of an Apparatus for Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vehicle or Vehicles).

    Tesla’s radio wave experiments in 1896 were conducted in Gerlach Hotel (later renamed The Radio Wave building), where he resided.[86]

    In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat—which he dubbed « teleautomaton »—to the public during an electrical exhibition at Madison Square Garden.[1] The crowd that witnessed the demonstration made outrageous claims about the workings of the boat, such as magic, telepathy, and being piloted by a trained monkey hidden inside.[87] Tesla tried to sell his idea to the U.S. military as a type of radio-controlled torpedo, but they showed little interest.[88] Remote radio control remained a novelty until World War I and afterward, when a number of countries used it in military programs.[89] Tesla took the opportunity to further demonstrate « Teleautomatics » in an address to a meeting of the Commercial Club in Chicago, whilst he was travelling to Colorado Springs, on 13 May 1899.[21]

    In 1900, Tesla was granted patents for a « system of transmitting electrical energy » and « an electrical transmitter. » When Guglielmo Marconi made his famous first-ever transatlantic radio transmission in 1901, Tesla quipped that it was done with 17 Tesla patents. This was the beginning of years of patent battles over radio with Tesla’s patents being upheld in 1903, followed by a reverse decision in favor of Marconi in 1904. In 1943, a Supreme Court of the United States decision restored the prior patents of Tesla, Oliver Lodge, and John Stone.[90] The court declared that their decision had no bearing on Marconi’s claim as the first to achieve radio transmission, just that since Marconi’s claim to certain patents were questionable, he could not claim infringement on those same patents[91] (there are claims the high court was trying to nullify a World War I claim against the U.S. government by the Marconi Company via simply restoring Tesla’s prior patent).[90]

    Colorado Springs

    A multiple exposure picture (one of 68 Colorado Springs images created by of Century Magazine photographer Dickenson Alley) of Tesla sitting in his laboratory with his « Magnifying transmitter » generating millions of volts. The 7-metre (23 ft) long arcs were not part of the normal operation and were produced for effect by rapidly cycling the power switch[92]

    Another Alley photograph at Colorado Springs documenting 3 lights receiving power by means of electrodynamic induction from an oscillator 60 feet (18 m) from the bulbs (placed on the ground outside the building to demonstrate they had no connection to the power source)[92]

    On 17 May 1899, Tesla moved to Colorado Springs, where he would have room for his high-voltage, high-frequency experiments;[21] his lab was located near Foote Ave. and Kiowa St.[93] He chose this location because the polyphase alternating current power distribution system had been introduced there and he had associates who were willing to give him all the power he needed without charging for it.[94] Upon his arrival, he told reporters that he was conducting wireless telegraphy experiments, transmitting signals from Pikes Peak to Paris.[citation needed] The 1978 book Colorado Springs Notes, 1899–1900 contains descriptions of Tesla’s experiments.

    On 15 June 1899, Tesla performed his first experiments at his Colorado Springs lab; he recorded his initial spark length at five inches long, but very thick and noisy.[21]

    Tesla investigated atmospheric electricity, observing lightning signals via his receivers. Tesla stated that he observed stationary waves during this time.[95] The great distances and the nature of what Tesla was detecting from lightning storms confirmed his belief that the earth had a resonant frequency.[96][97]

    He produced artificial lightning (with discharges consisting of millions of volts and up to 135 feet long).[98] Thunder from the released energy was heard 15 miles away in Cripple Creek, Colorado. People walking along the street observed sparks jumping between their feet and the ground. Sparks sprang from water line taps when touched. Light bulbs within 100 feet of the lab glowed even when turned off. Horses in a livery stable bolted from their stalls after receiving shocks through their metal shoes. Butterflies were electrified, swirling in circles with blue halos of St. Elmo’s fire around their wings.[99]

    While experimenting, Tesla inadvertently faulted a power station generator, causing a power outage. In August 1917, Tesla explained what had happened in The Electrical Experimenter: « As an example of what has been done with several hundred kilowatts of high frequency energy liberated, it was found that the dynamos in a power house six miles away were repeatedly burned out, due to the powerful high frequency currents set up in them, and which caused heavy sparks to jump through the windings and destroy the insulation! »[100]

    An Alley Colorado Springs photo of a grounded tuned coil in resonance with a transmitter illuminates a light near the bottom of the picture.[101] Tesla did not disclose how far away the transmitter was.[92][101]

    During his time at his lab, Tesla observed unusual signals from his receiver which he concluded may be communications from another planet. He mentioned them in a letter to reporter Julian Hawthorne at the Philadelphia North American on 8 December 1899[102] and in a December 1900 letter about possible discoveries in the new century to the Red Cross Society where he referred to messages « from another world » that read « 1… 2… 3… ».[103][104] Reporters treated it as a sensational story and jumped to the conclusion Tesla was hearing signals from Mars.[105] He expanded on the signals he heard in a 9 February 1901 Collier’s Weekly article « Talking With Planets » where he said it had not been immediately apparent to him that he was hearing « intelligently controlled signals » and that the signals could come from Mars, Venus, or other planets.[106] It has been hypothesized that he may have intercepted Marconi’s European experiments in July 1899—Marconi may have transmitted the letter S (dot/dot/dot) in a naval demonstration, the same three impulses that Tesla hinted at hearing in Colorado[107]—or signals from another experimenter in wireless transmission.[108]

    In 1899, John Jacob Astor IV invested $100,000 for Tesla to further develop and produce a new lighting system. Instead, Tesla used the money to fund his Colorado Springs experiments.[109]

    On 7 January 1900, Tesla left Colorado Springs.[citation needed] His lab was torn down in 1904, and its contents were sold two years later to satisfy a debt.[110][111]

    The Colorado experiments had prepared Tesla for the establishment of the trans-Atlantic wireless telecommunications facility known as Wardenclyffe near Shoreham, Long Island.[112]

    Wardenclyffe years (1900–1917)

    Main article: Wardenclyffe Tower
    Tesla Ready for Business – 7 August 1901 New-York tribune article

    The Tesla coil wireless transmitter
    U.S. Patent 1,119,732

    Tesla’s Wardenclyffe plant on Long Island in 1904. From this facility, Tesla hoped to demonstrate wireless transmission of electrical energy across the Atlantic.

    In 1900, with $150,000 ($4,252,200 in today’s dollars[50]; 51% from J. Pierpont Morgan), Tesla began planning the Wardenclyffe Tower facility.[113]

    Tesla later approached Morgan to ask for more funds to build a more powerful transmitter. When asked where all the money had gone, Tesla responded by saying that he was affected by the Panic of 1901, which he (Morgan) had caused. Morgan was shocked by the reminder of his part in the stock market crash and by Tesla’s breach of contract by asking for more funds. Tesla wrote another plea to Morgan, but it was also fruitless. Morgan still owed Tesla money on the original agreement, and Tesla had been facing foreclosure even before construction of the tower began.[108]

    In December 1901, Marconi successfully transmitted the letter S from England to Newfoundland, terminating Tesla’s relationship with Morgan.[improper synthesis?] Over the next five years, Tesla wrote over 50 letters to Morgan, pleading for and demanding additional funding to complete the construction of Wardenclyffe. Tesla continued the project for another nine months. The tower was erected to its full 187 feet (57 m).[108] In July 1903, Tesla wrote to Morgan that in addition to wireless communication, Wardenclyffe would be capable of wireless transmission of electric power.[113] On 14 October 1904, Morgan finally replied through his secretary, stating, « It will be impossible for [me] to do anything in the matter, » after Tesla had written to Morgan when the financier was meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury in an attempt to appeal to his Christian spirit.[108]

    In June 1902, Tesla’s lab operations were moved to Wardenclyffe from Houston Street.[113]

    On his 50th birthday in 1906, Tesla demonstrated his 200 horsepower (150 kilowatts) 16,000 rpm bladeless turbine. During 1910–1911 at the Waterside Power Station in New York, several of his bladeless turbine engines were tested at 100–5,000 hp.[114]

    Tesla invented a steam-powered mechanical oscillator—Tesla’s oscillator. While experimenting with mechanical oscillators at his Houston Street lab, Tesla allegedly generated a resonance of several buildings. As the speed grew, it is said that the machine oscillated at the resonance frequency of his own building and, belatedly realizing the danger, he was forced to use a sledge hammer to terminate the experiment, just as the police arrived.[13]:162–164 In February 1912, an article— »Nikola Tesla, Dreamer » by Allan L. Benson—was published in World Today, in which an artist’s illustration appears showing the entire earth cracking in half with the caption, « Tesla claims that in a few weeks he could set the earth’s crust into such a state of vibration that it would rise and fall hundreds of feet and practically destroy civilization. A continuation of this process would, he says, eventually split the earth in two. »[82]

    Tesla theorized that the application of electricity to the brain enhanced intelligence. In 1912, he crafted « a plan to make dull students bright by saturating them unconsciously with electricity, » wiring the walls of a schoolroom and, « saturating [the schoolroom] with infinitesimal electric waves vibrating at high frequency. The whole room will thus, Mr. Tesla claims, be converted into a health-giving and stimulating electromagnetic field or ‘bath.' »[115] The plan was, at least provisionally approved by then superintendent of New York City schools, William H. Maxwell.[115]

    Before World War I, Tesla sought overseas investors. After the war started, Tesla lost the funding he was receiving from his patents in European countries. Eventually, he sold Wardenclyffe for $20,000 ($470,900 in today’s dollars[50]).[113] In 1917, around the time that the Wardenclyffe Tower was demolished by Boldt to make the land a more viable real estate asset, Tesla received AIEE’s highest honor, the Edison Medal.[116]

    In the August 1917 edition of the magazine Electrical Experimenter Tesla postulated that electricity could be used to locate submarines via using the reflection of an « electric ray » of « tremendous frequency, » with the signal being viewed on a fluorescent screen (a system that has been noted to have a superficial resemblance to modern radar).[117] Tesla was incorrect in his assumption that high frequency radio waves would penetrate water[118] but Émile Girardeau, who helped develop France’s first radar system in the 1930s, noted in 1953 that Tesla’s general speculation that a very strong high frequency signal would be needed was correct stating « (Tesla) was prophesying or dreaming, since he had at his disposal no means of carrying them out, but one must add that if he was dreaming, at least he was dreaming correctly.« [8]:266[119]

    Nobel Prize rumors

    On 6 November 1915, a Reuters news agency report from London had the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla; however, on 15 November, a Reuters story from Stockholm stated the prize that year was being awarded to Sir William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg « for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. »[8]:245[120][121] There were unsubstantiated rumors at the time that Tesla and/or Edison had refused the prize.[8]:245 The Nobel Foundation said, « Any rumor that a person has not been given a Nobel Prize because he has made known his intention to refuse the reward is ridiculous »; a recipient could only decline a Nobel Prize after he is announced a winner.[8]:245

    There have been subsequent claims by Tesla biographers that Edison and Tesla were the original recipients and that neither was given the award because of their animosity toward each other; that each sought to minimize the other’s achievements and right to win the award; that both refused ever to accept the award if the other received it first; that both rejected any possibility of sharing it; and even that a wealthy Edison refused it to keep Tesla from getting the $20,000 prize money.[8]:245[19][122]

    In the years after these rumors, neither Tesla nor Edison won the prize (although Edison did receive one of 38 possible bids in 1915 and Tesla did receive one of 38 possible bids in 1937).[123]

    Later years (1918–1943)

    In 1928, Tesla received his last patent, U.S. Patent 1,655,114, for a biplane capable of taking off vertically (VTOL aircraft) and then be « gradually tilted through manipulation of the elevator devices » in flight until it was flying like a conventional plane.[124] Tesla thought the plane would sell for less than $1,000.[8]:251 Although the aircraft was probably impractical, it may be the earliest known design for what became the tiltrotor/tilt-wing concept as well as the earliest proposal for the use of turbine engines in rotor aircraft.[125][improper synthesis?]

    Starting in 1934, the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company began paying Tesla $125 per month as well as paying his rent at the Hotel New Yorker, expenses the Company would pay for the rest of Tesla’s life. Accounts on how this came about vary. Several sources say Westinghouse was worried about potential bad publicity surrounding the impoverished conditions their former star inventor was living under.[1]:365[126][127] It has been described as being couched in the form of a « consulting fee » to get around Tesla’s aversion to accept charity, or by one biographer (Marc Seifer), as a type of unspecified settlement.[127]

    In 1935, in an annual birthday celebration interview, Tesla announced a method of transmitting mechanical energy with minimal loss over any terrestrial distance, a related new means of communication, and a method of accurately determining the location of underground mineral deposits.[82]

    In the fall of 1937, after midnight one night, Tesla left the Hotel New Yorker to make his regular commute to the cathedral and the library to feed the pigeons. While crossing a street a couple of blocks from the hotel, Tesla was unable to dodge a moving taxicab and was thrown heavily to the ground. Tesla’s back was severely wrenched and three of his ribs were broken in the accident (the full extent of his injuries will never be known; Tesla refused to consult a doctor—an almost lifelong custom). Tesla didn’t raise any question as to who was at fault and refused medical aid, only asking to be taken to his hotel via cab. Tesla was bedridden for some months and was unable to continue feeding pigeons from his window; soon, they failed to come. In the spring of 1938, Tesla was able to get up. He at once resumed the pigeon-feeding walks on a much more limited scale, but frequently had a messenger act for him.[13]

    Directed-energy weapon

    Main article: Teleforce

    Later in life, Tesla made claims concerning a « teleforce » weapon after studying the Van de Graaff generator.[128][129] The press called it a « peace ray » or death ray.[130][131] Tesla described the weapon as being able to be used against ground-based infantry or for antiaircraft purposes.

    Tesla gives the following description concerning the particle gun‘s operation:

    [The nozzle would] send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation’s border and will cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.[132][133]

    In total, the components and methods included:

    • An apparatus for producing manifestations of energy in free air instead of in a high vacuum as in the past.
    • A mechanism for generating tremendous electrical force.
    • A means of intensifying and amplifying the force developed by the second mechanism.
    • A new method for producing a tremendous electrical repelling force. This would be the projector, or gun, of the invention.[134][135][136]

    Tesla claimed to have worked on plans for a directed-energy weapon from the early 1900s until his death.[137][138]

    In 1937, at a luncheon in his honor concerning the death ray, Tesla stated, « But it is not an experiment … I have built, demonstrated and used it. Only a little time will pass before I can give it to the world. » His records indicate that the device is based on a narrow stream of small tungsten pellets that are accelerated via high voltage (by means akin to his magnifying transformer).[129]

    During the same year, Tesla wrote a treatise, The Art of Projecting Concentrated Non-dispersive Energy through the Natural Media,[139] concerning charged particle beam weapons.[140] Tesla published the document in an attempt to expound on the technical description of a « superweapon that would put an end to all war. » This treatise is currently in the Nikola Tesla Museum archive in Belgrade. It describes an open-ended vacuum tube with a gas jet seal that allows particles to exit, a method of charging particles to millions of volts, and a method of creating and directing non-dispersive particle streams (through electrostatic repulsion).[140] Tesla tried to interest the US War Department,[141] the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia in the device.[142]

    During the period in which the negotiations were being carried on, Tesla said that efforts had been made to steal the invention. His room had been entered and his papers had been scrutinized, but the thieves, or spies, left empty-handed. He said that there was no danger that his invention could be stolen, for he had at no time committed any part of it to paper. The blueprint for the teleforce weapon was all in his mind.[143]

    Death

    Gilded urn with Tesla’s ashes, in his favorite geometrical object, a sphere, Nikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade.

    On 7 January 1943, Tesla, 86, died alone in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel. His body was later found by maid Alice Monaghan after she had entered Tesla’s room, ignoring the « do not disturb » sign that Tesla had placed on his door two days earlier. Assistant medical examiner H.W. Wembly examined the body and ruled that the cause of death had been coronary thrombosis.[22] Tesla’s remains were taken to the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home at Madison Ave. and 81st St. A long-time friend and supporter of Tesla, Hugo Gernsback, commissioned a sculptor to create a death mask, now displayed in the Nikola Tesla Museum.[22]

    Two days later, the FBI ordered the Alien Property Custodian to seize Tesla’s belongings,[22] even though Tesla was an American citizen.[71] Tesla’s entire estate from the Hotel New Yorker and other New York City hotels was transported to the Manhattan Storage and Warehouse Company under Office of Alien Property (OAP) seal.[22] John G. Trump, a professor at M.I.T. and well-known electrical engineer serving as a technical aide to the National Defense Research Committee, was called in to analyze the Tesla items in OAP custody.[22] After a three-day investigation, Trump’s report concluded that there was nothing that would constitute a hazard in unfriendly hands, stating:

    [Tesla’s] thoughts and efforts during at least the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character often concerned with the production and wireless transmission of power; but did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.[144]

    In a box purported to contain a part of Tesla’s « death ray, » Trump found a 45-year-old multidecade resistance box.[145]

    On 10 January 1943, New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia read a eulogy written by Slovene-American author Louis Adamic live over the WNYC radio while violin pieces « Ave Maria » and « Tamo daleko » were played in the background.[22] On 12 January 2,000 people attended a state funeral for Tesla at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. After the funeral, Tesla’s body was taken to the Ferncliff Cemetery in Ardsley, New York, where it was later cremated. The following day, a second service was conducted by prominent priests in the Trinity Chapel (today’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava) in New York City.[22]

    Estate

    In 1952, following pressure from Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanović, Tesla’s entire estate was shipped to Belgrade in 80 trunks marked N.T.[21] In 1957, Kosanović’s secretary Charlotte Muzar transported Tesla’s ashes from the United States to Belgrade.[21] The ashes are displayed in a gold-plated sphere on a marble pedestal in the Nikola Tesla Museum.[146]

    Despite having sold his AC electricity patents, Tesla died impoverished and in debt.[147][148][149][150]

    Patents

    Newspaper representation of Tesla’s theoretical invention, the thought camera, which would photograph thoughts. Circa 1933.

    Tesla obtained around 300 patents worldwide for his inventions.[151] Some of Tesla’s patents are not accounted for, and various sources have discovered some that have lain hidden in patent archives. There are a minimum of 278 patents[151] issued to Tesla in 26 countries that have been accounted for. Many of Tesla’s patents were in the United States, Britain, and Canada, but many other patents were approved in countries around the globe.[8]:62 Many inventions developed by Tesla were not put into patent protection.

    Personal life

    Tesla worked every day from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. or later, with dinner from exactly 8:10 p.m., at Delmonico’s restaurant and later the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Tesla would telephone his dinner order to the headwaiter, who also could be the only one to serve him. « The meal was required to be ready at eight o’clock … He dined alone, except on the rare occasions when he would give a dinner to a group to meet his social obligations. Tesla would then resume his work, often until 3:00 a.m. »[13]:283, 286

    For exercise, Tesla walked between 8 to 10 miles per day. He squished his toes one hundred times for each foot every night, saying that it stimulated his brain cells.[152]

    In an interview with newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane, Tesla said that he did not believe in telepathy, stating, « Suppose I made up my mind to murder you, » he said, « In a second you would know it. Now, isn’t that wonderful? By what process does the mind get at all this? » In the same interview, Tesla said that he believed that all fundamental laws could be reduced to one.[153]

    Near the end of his life, Tesla walked to the park every day to feed the pigeons and even brought injured ones into his hotel room to nurse back to health.[154][155] He said that he had been visited by a specific injured white pigeon daily. Tesla spent over $2,000, including building a device that comfortably supported her so her bones could heal, to fix her broken wing and leg.[27] Tesla stated,

    I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them for years. But there was one, a beautiful bird, pure white with light grey tips on its wings; that one was different. It was a female. I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. 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.[156][157]

    Tesla became a vegetarian in his later years, living on only milk, bread, honey, and vegetable juices.[129][158]

    Appearance

    Tesla’s portrait – Blue Portrait – from 1916, painted by then-Hungarian princess, Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy.

    Tesla, aged 40. c. 1896

    Tesla was 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) tall and weighed 142 pounds (64 kg), with almost no weight variance from 1888 to about 1926.[13]:292 He was an elegant, stylish figure in New York City, meticulous in his grooming, clothing, and regimented in his daily activities.

    This was not because of personal vanity. Neatness and fastidiousness in clothes were entirely in harmony with every other phase of his personality. He did not maintain a large wardrobe and he wore no jewelry of any kind … He observed, however, that in the matter of clothes the world takes a man at his own valuation, as expressed in his appearance, and frequently eases his way to his objective through small courtesies not extended to less prepossessing individuals.[13]:289

    Arthur Brisbane, a newspaper editor for the New York World, described Tesla’s appearance:

    Nikola Tesla is almost the tallest, almost the thinnest and certainly the most serious man who goes to Delmonico’s regularly … He has eyes set very far back in his head. They are rather light. I asked him how he could have such light eyes and be a Slav. He told me that his eyes were once much darker, but that using his mind a great deal had made them many shades lighter. I have often heard it said that using the brain makes the eyes lighter in color. Tesla’s confirmation of the theory through his personal experience is important.

    He is very thin, is more than six feet tall and weighs less than a hundred and forty pounds. He has very big hands. Many able men do—Lincoln is one instance. His thumbs are remarkably big, even for such big hands. They are extraordinarily big. This is a good sign. The thumb is the intellectual part of the hand. The apes have very small thumbs. Study them and you will notice this.

    Nikola Tesla has a head that spreads out at the top like a fan. His head is shaped like a wedge. His chin is as pointed as an ice-pick. His mouth is too small. His chin, though not weak, is not strong enough. His face cannot be studied and judged like the faces of other men, for he is not a worker in practical fields. He lives his life up in the top of his head, where ideas are born, and up there he has plenty of room. His hair is jet black and curly. He stoops—most men do when they have no peacock blood in them. He lives inside of himself. He takes a profound interest in his own work. He has that supply of self-love and self-confidence which usually goes with success. And he differs from most of the men who are written and talked about in the fact that he has something to tell.[153]

    Eidetic memory

    Tesla read many works, memorizing complete books, and supposedly possessed a photographic memory.[8]:33 He was a polyglot, speaking eight languages: Serbo-Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin.[13]:282 Tesla related in his autobiography that he experienced detailed moments of inspiration. During his early life, Tesla was stricken with illness time and time again. He suffered a peculiar affliction in which blinding flashes of light would appear before his eyes, often accompanied by visions. Often, the visions were linked to a word or idea he might have come across; at other times they would provide the solution to a particular problem he had encountered. Just by hearing the name of an item, he would be able to envision it in realistic detail. Tesla would visualize an invention in his mind with extreme precision, including all dimensions, before moving to the construction stage, a technique sometimes known as picture thinking. He typically did not make drawings by hand but worked from memory. Beginning in his childhood, Tesla had frequent flashbacks to events that had happened previously in his life.[8]:33

    Sleep habits

    Tesla claimed to never sleep more than two hours.[13]:46 However, Tesla did admit to « dozing » from time to time « to recharge his batteries. »[152]

    During his second year of study at Graz, Tesla developed a passion for (and became very proficient at) billiards, chess and card-playing, sometimes spending more than 48 hours in a stretch at a gaming table.[13]:43, 301 On one occasion at his laboratory, Tesla worked for a period of 84 hours without sleep or rest.[13]:208

    Kenneth Swezey, a journalist whom Tesla had befriended, confirmed that Tesla rarely slept. Swezey recalled one morning when Tesla called him at 3 a.m.: « I was sleeping in my room like one dead … Suddenly, the telephone ring awakened me … [Tesla] spoke animatedly, with pauses, [as he] … work[ed] out a problem, comparing one theory to another, commenting; and when he felt he had arrived at the solution, he suddenly closed the telephone. »[152]

    Relationships

    Tesla with an unknown woman

    Tesla never married, saying that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities.[8]:33 However, toward the end of his life, he told a reporter, « Sometimes I feel that by not marrying, I made too great a sacrifice to my work … »[27] There have been numerous accounts of women vying for Tesla’s affection, even some madly in love with him.[citation needed] Tesla, though polite and soft-spoken, did not have any known relationships.

    Tesla was asocial, and prone to seclude himself with his work.[159][160][1][161] However, when he did engage in a social life, many people spoke very positively and admiringly of Tesla. Robert Underwood Johnson described him as attaining a « distinguished sweetness, sincerity, modesty, refinement, generosity, and force. »[27] His loyal secretary, Dorothy Skerrit, wrote: « his genial smile and nobility of bearing always denoted the gentlemanly characteristics that were so ingrained in his soul. »[13] Tesla’s friend, Julian Hawthorne, wrote, « seldom did one meet a scientist or engineer who was also a poet, a philosopher, an appreciator of fine music, a linguist, and a connoisseur of food and drink. »[citation needed]

    Mark Twain in Tesla’s lab, early 1894

    Tesla was a good friend of Robert Underwood Johnson,[162] Francis Marion Crawford, Stanford White,[163] Fritz Lowenstein, George Scherff, and Kenneth Swezey.[164][165][166] In middle age, Tesla became a close friend of Mark Twain. They spent a lot of time together in his lab and elsewhere.[162] Twain notably described Tesla’s induction motor invention as « the most valuable patent since the telephone. »[167] In the late 1920s, Tesla befriended George Sylvester Viereck, a poet, writer, mystic, and later, a Nazi propagandist. Tesla occasionally attended dinner parties held by Viereck and his wife.[168][169]

    Tesla could be harsh at times, openly expressing disgust for overweight people, such as when he fired a secretary because of her weight.[8]:110 He was quick to criticize clothing. On several occasions, Tesla directed a subordinate to go home and change her dress.[8]:33

    When Thomas Edison died in 1931, Tesla contributed the only negative opinion to the New York Times, buried in an extensive coverage of Edison’s life:

    He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene … His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor’s instinct and practical American sense.[170]

    On experimental and theoretical physics

    Tesla exhibited a pre-atomic understanding of physics in his writings;[171] he disagreed with the theory of atoms being composed of smaller subatomic particles, stating there was no such thing as an electron creating an electric charge (he believed that if electrons existed at all, they were some fourth state of matter or « sub-atom » that could only exist in an experimental vacuum and that they had nothing to do with electricity).[13]:249[172] Tesla believed that atoms are immutable—they could not change state or be split in any way. He was a believer in the 19th century concept of an all pervasive « ether » that transmitted electrical energy.[173]

    Tesla was generally antagonistic towards theories about the conversion of matter into energy.[13]:247 He was also critical of Einstein’s theory of relativity, saying:

    I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.[174]

    Tesla claimed to have developed his own physical principle regarding matter and energy that he started working on in 1892,[13] and in 1937, at age 81, claimed in a letter to have completed a « dynamic theory of gravity » that « [would] put an end to idle speculations and false conceptions, as that of curved space. »[175] He stated that the theory was « worked out in all details » and that he hoped to soon give it to the world.[176] Further elucidation of his theory was never found in his writings.[8]:309

    On society

    Tesla, like many of his era, became a proponent of an imposed selective breeding version of eugenics. His opinion stemmed from the belief that humans’ « pity » had interfered with the natural « ruthless workings of nature, » rather than from conceptions of a « master race » or inherent superiority of one person over another. His advocacy of it was, however, to push it further. In a 1937 interview, he stated:

    … man’s new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct … The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult. Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.[177]

    In 1926, Tesla commented on the ills of the social subservience of women and the struggle of women toward gender equality, indicated that humanity’s future would be run by « Queen Bees. » He believed that women would become the dominant sex in the future.[178]

    Tesla is widely considered by his biographers as a humanist regarding his worldview.[1]:154[179][180][181][182]

    Tesla made predictions about the relevant issues of a post-World War I environment in a printed article, « Science and Discovery are the great Forces which will lead to the Consummation of the War » (20 December 1914).[183] Tesla believed that the League of Nations was not a remedy for the times and issues.[citation needed]

    On religion

    Tesla was raised as an Orthodox Christian. Later in his life, he did not consider himself to be a « believer in the orthodox sense, » and opposed religious fanaticism.[184] Despite this, he had a profound respect for both Buddhism and Christianity.[23][184]

    In his article, « The Problem of Increasing Human Energy, » published in 1900, Tesla stated:

    For ages this idea [that each of us is only part of a whole] has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one.[185]

    However, his religious views remain uncertain due to other statements that he made.[186][187][188] For example, in his article, « A Machine to End War », published in 1937, Tesla stated:

    There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call « soul » or « spirit, » is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the « soul » or the « spirit » ceases likewise.[184]

    Literary works

    Nikola Tesla on 100 Serbian dinar banknote

    Tesla wrote a number of books and articles for magazines and journals.[189] Among his books are My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, compiled and edited by Ben Johnston; The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla, compiled and edited by David Hatcher Childress; and The Tesla Papers.

    Many of Tesla’s writings are freely available on the web,[190][191][192] including the article « The Problem of Increasing Human Energy, » published in The Century Magazine in 1900,[193][194] and the article « Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency, » published in his book Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla.[195][196]

    Legacy and honors

    Tesla on cover of Time Magazine for 20 July 1931.

    Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia

    Tesla’s legacy has endured in books, films, radio, TV, music, live theater, comics and video games. The lack of recognition received during his own lifetime has cast him as a tragic and inspirational character, well suited to dramatic fiction. The impact of the technologies invented or envisioned by Tesla is a recurring theme in several types of science fiction.

    For example, on Tesla’s 75th birthday in 1931, Time magazine put him on its cover.[197] The cover caption « All the world’s his power house » noted his contribution to electrical power generation. He received congratulatory letters from more than 70 pioneers in science and engineering, including Albert Einstein.[198]

    Things named after Tesla

    Plaques and memorials

    Nikola Tesla Corner in New York City
    • The Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre in Smiljan, Croatia, opened in 2006. It features a statue of Tesla designed by sculptor Mile Blažević.[12][207][208]
    • On 7 July 2006, on the corner of Masarykova and Preradovićeva streets in the Lower Town area in Zagreb, Croatia, a monument of Tesla was unveiled. This monument was designed by Ivan Meštrović in 1952 and was transferred from the Zagreb-based Ruđer Bošković Institute where it had spent previous decades.[209][210]
    • A monument to Tesla was established at Niagara Falls, New York. This monument portraying Tesla reading a set of notes was sculpted by Frano Kršinić. It was presented to the United States by Yugoslavia in 1976 and is an identical copy of the monument standing in front of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
    • A monument of Tesla standing on a portion of an alternator, was established at Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The monument was officially unveiled on 9 July 2006 on the 150th anniversary of Tesla’s birth. The monument was sponsored by St. George Serbian Church, Niagara Falls, and designed by Les Drysdale of Hamilton, Ontario.[211][212] Drysdale’s design was the winning design from an international competition.[213]
    • In 2012, Jane Alcorn, president of the nonprofit group Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and Matthew Inman, creator of web cartoon The Oatmeal, raised a total of $2,220,511 – $1,370,511 from a campaign and $850,000 from a New York State grant—to buy the property where Wardenclyffe Tower once stood and eventually turn it into a museum.[214][215] The group began negotiations to purchase the Long Island property from Agfa Corporation in October 2012.[216] The purchase was completed in May 2013.[217]
    • A commemorative plaque honoring Nikola Tesla was installed on the façade of the New Yorker Hotel by the IEEE.[218]
    • An intersection named after Tesla, Nikola Tesla Corner, is at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 40th Street in Manhattan, New York City. The placement of the sign was due to the efforts of the Croatian Club of New York in cooperation with New York City officials, and Dr. Ljubo Vujovic of the Tesla Memorial Society of New York.[219]
    • A bust and plaque honoring Tesla is outside the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava (formerly known as Trinity Chapel) at 20 West 26th Street in New York City.[220]
    • A full-size, crowdfunded statue honoring Tesla with free Wi-Fi and a time capsule (to be opened on the 100th anniversary of Tesla’s death, 7 January 2043) was unveiled on 7 December 2013 in Palo Alto, California (260 Sheridan Avenue).[221]
    NIKOLA TESLA
    L’homme qui éclaira le monde
    (1856-1943)

    TeslaNikola Tesla

    Nikola Tesla, l’un des inventeurs les plus extraordinaires de tous les temps est né dans la nuit du 9 au 10 juillet 1856 à Smiljan (Croatie) dépendant alors de l’Empire austro-hongrois. Il mourut pauvre, quasiment oublié, le 7 janvier 1943.

    Entre temps, il fut l’un des chercheurs les plus attachants, les plus inspirés, l’un des esprits les plus féconds de toute l’humanité, et sans doute le plus « fou » au sens noble du terme.

    Auteur de près de 1000 brevets traitant de l’énergie électrique, de sa production et de sa conservation, récipiendaire de quatorze doctorats des universités du monde entier et maîtrisant 12 langues, cet homme qui éclaira le monde, s’éteignit après avoir connu tour à tour la gloire, la fortune, la jalousie, l’incompréhension, les moqueries et le discrédit.

    Sa vie de géant de la science, fut celle d’un météore, d’une étoile filante, d’un astre éblouissant disparaissant dans un trou noir. Après avoir illuminé la terre, éclairé les hommes, cet inventeur et prophète, mourut à la lueur sinistre d’une guerre sans merci, avec le sentiment pathétique de voir son œuvre pillée, profanée et pour l’essentiel : incomprise

    Nikola Tesla adolescent
    Sa Vie

    Les parents de Nikola, Milutin* et Djuka*, descendent tous deux d’anciennes familles serbes de religion orthodoxe. Le père, Milutin Tesla (1819-1879), est le prêtre de Smiljan.

    Milutin, son père

    Dès le plus jeune âge, Nikola découvre en lui-même un génie inventif que favorisent de remarquables qualités intellectuelles tels une mémoire photographique instantanée, un don de visualisation exceptionnel lui permettant de se passer de maquettes et de schémas.

    À l’adolescence, il imagine, invente, réalise des projets sortant de l’ordinaire, conçus dans les moindres détails dans sa tête, sans passer par des dessins ou des plans réels. A l’âge de 17 ans, il se révèle déjà comme un inventeur autodidacte, étonnant son entourage par ses conceptions sortant de l’ordinaire.

    Djuka

    Il faut lire la passionnante autobiographie que Tesla nous a laissée sous le titre Mes Inventions et dont vous trouverez le lien au bas de cette page.

    Mais je ne résiste pas à vous livrer de suite ce passage étonnant de son récit, concernant l’un de ses fantasmes:

    «Je me mis à construire un modèle de turbine en bois et l’assemblai avec d’infinies précautions ; je branchai la pompe sur un des côtés et je remarquai qu’effectivement le cylindre avait tendance à se mettre à tourner : j’étais fou de joie ! Je voulais arriver à faire des vols mécaniques, malgré un douloureux souvenir d’une chute que j’avais faite en sautant d’un toit avec un parapluie

    Je voyageais mentalement tous les jours dans les airs et j’allais dans des régions très éloignées, mais je ne savais pas comment m’y prendre pour que ces rêves deviennent réalité. Et voilà que j’avais obtenu quelque chose de concret, une machine volante constituée d’un simple arbre rotatif, d’ailes battantes, … et d’un vide de puissance illimitée !

    À partir de ce jour, je fis mes excursions journalières dans les airs, à bord d’un véhicule confortable et luxueux, digne du Roi Salomon. »

    Maison de la famille Tesla

    Après de brèves mais bonnes études secondaires, notamment au lycée de Carlstadt (en Croatie), il entre en 1875 à l’école polytechnique de Graz (Autriche), grâce à une bourse. Il y étudie avec ferveur et acharnement les mathématiques, la mécanique et la physique, parvenant à assimiler en un an le programme des deux premières années.

    C’est dans cet institut qu’il put observer pour la première fois la fameuse dynamo de Gramme fonctionnant comme un générateur qui, une fois inversée, devenait un moteur électrique. Cette découverte fut le déclic qui lui permit de concevoir dans sa tête le principe de l’alternateur.

    Alternateur de Tesla

    L’année d’après, une réorganisation politique de la région frontalière de l’Empire où demeurait sa famille, – territoire sous administration militaire -, lui retire toute subvention et l’empêche de poursuivre ses études.

    Le jeune Nikola passe quelques années à rechercher un travail qui lui convienne et corresponde à ses aspirations tout en effectuant des petits boulots pour survivre, s’adonnant à d’immenses lectures afin de compléter ses connaissances, en autodidacte. Il ne cesse d’ailleurs jamais d’inventer, de bricoler, d’imaginer des appareils de toute sorte, des véhicules automobiles, des avions, des submersibles, etc.

    L’un de ses rêves récurrents est de trouver le moyen de s’approprier, de dompter, de canaliser l’énergie électrique dont il sait instinctivement que c’est avec le magnétisme, le fluide vital essentiel.

    Nikola Tesla étudiant

    La mort de son père, en 1879, tarit les maigres subsides qui lui étaient alloués par la famille. Mais pour réaliser un des derniers vœux de son père, il alla étudier quelques mois en auditeur libre, à l’université de Prague.

    Parallèlement à ses études scientifiques, Tesla apprend plusieurs langues, – il en maîrisera une douzaine – notamment la française et l’anglaise, et découvre le sanskrit, dont la construction grammaticale, le vocabulaire et la splendeur des œuvres le subjuguent.

    C’est à Budapest, en 1881, que l’Office central du télégraphe lui offrira sa première chance en l’engageant comme designer. Il en profita pour améliorer le dispositif du système central tout en mettant au point un amplificateur téléphonique révolutionnaire.

    L’administrateur de l’entreprise le présenta à un collaborateur de la Western Union qui séduit par son intelligence et sa connaissance des langues, l’emploiera quelque temps comme interprète.

    Paris ville de toutes les tentations

    Mais le jeune homme est pressé, et lorsque en 1882 M. Puskas son ancien employeur lui propose un poste à Paris, à la succursale européenne de la société Edison, il accepte avec enthousiasme. Il découvre avec émerveillement cette ville où :

    «Quel que fût le temps, j’allais tous les matins de mon lieu de résidence, boulevard St Marcel à une piscine en bordure de la Seine; je plongeais dans l’eau, en faisais vingt-sept fois le tour, puis je marchais pendant une heure jusqu’à Ivry, où se trouvait l’usine de la société.»

    À son arrivée à Paris, il vécut quelque temps dans le quartier du Haut-roule, où se trouve l’église russe dont un des popes, ami de son père, lui procure une petite chambre avant qu’il ne s’installe au faubourg St Jacques. Il y fait la connaissance de Clément Ader (1841-1925), un inventeur original, enthousiaste et plein d’idées comme lui-même, de quelques années son aîné. Le quartier du Roule était alors un quartier populaire en pleine effervescence, avec son usine à gaz, ses sources d’eau chaude, que les travaux du baron Haussmann allait transformer de fond en comble.

    Tesla expose son projet

    Après avoir fait fortune en inventant le vélocipède à roues revêtues de caoutchouc, une machine à poser les rails de chemin-de-fer, puis s’être ruiné, Ader survivait en perfectionnant et commercialisant les premiers téléphones de Graham Bell invention qui intéressait vivement Nikola.

    Passionné par la mécanique, les plus lourds que l’air, Ader rêve déjà comme Tesla de faire voler le premier « avion », rêve qu’il réalisera par la suite, tandis que Tesla, fou de physique, notamment de l’énergie électrique, rêve de domestiquer la gigantesque énergie de l’éther pour éclairer le monde, faire tourner les machines, permettre à l’homme de disposer d’un pouvoir illimité sur la matière, d’envoyer des fusées dans l’espace.

    Les deux hommes passent des nuits à élaborer les inventions les plus folles, à discuter de leurs projets incroyables dans un café de l’avenue de Wagram, proche de la place des Ternes, un quartier alors très vivant, plein d’artistes, d’inventeurs, de créateurs dans tous les domaines.

    Des dizaines de bricoleurs inventifs, du plus farfelu au plus génial, construisaient dans leur cave, leur grenier ou leur remise, des chars à moteur, des machines volantes, des appareils incroyables qu’ils testaient dans la rue même, sur les places, ou pour celles qui avaient besoin d’espace, les pelouses de Bagatelle !

    La société Edison utilisa quelques mois Nikola Tesla à la réparation des centrales électriques qui tombaient souvent en panne, notamment celle de Strasbourg, ville occupée par l’Allemagne où Tesla séjourna plusieurs semaines.

    Ce fut à Paris, que Tesla acheva de mettre au point le premier moteur à induction utilisant le courant alternatif. Il en exposa le principe lors de conférences suivies par un public clairsemé et sceptique. Car à cette époque, – début des années 1880 – rares étaient encore les financiers ou les hommes politiques français qui s’intéressaient à ces technologies.

    Personne en Europe ne souhaitant financer son invention, déçu par le manque d’intérêt de ses collègues qui, à part Ader, ne croyaient ni en ses théories ni à ses conceptions très en avance sur son temps, Tesla accepta en 1884 la proposition de son directeur M. Batchellor, de se rendre aux Etats-Unis.

    monet

    Monet : La Gare Saint- Lazare

    Son voyage fut épique. Il le raconte avec humour.

    «J’ai failli rater cette chance. Je liquidai mes modestes biens, me fis prêter quelque argent et me retrouvai sur le quai de la gare Saint-Lazare lorsque le train avait déjà démarré.

    C’est alors que j’ai découvert que je n’avais plus ni argent, ni tickets. La question était de savoir comment réagir. Hercule, lui, avait beaucoup de temps pour tergiverser, mais moi, il fallait que je prenne une décision tout en courant à côté du train, la tête envahie par des émotions contraires, ressemblant à des oscillations dans un condensateur.

    Résolu, et grâce à mon habileté, je gagnai cette course contre la montre, et après avoir subi les expériences classiques, aussi banales que déplaisantes, je réussis à m’embarquer pour New York avec le restant de mes affaires, quelques poèmes et articles que j’avais rédigés, et un certain nombre de calculs se référant à la solution d’une intégrale insoluble et à ma machine volante.»

    Le Nouveau monde

    Thomas Edison se débattait alors dans d’énormes difficultés dans la mise au point du réseau électrique qu’il avait créé pour alimenter la ville de New-York.

    edison

    Thomas Edison

    Ce réseau basé sur le courant continu, dont l’Américain est un partisan convaincu, connaît de nombreux dysfonctionnements, nécessitant l’installation d’une centrale-relai tous les 2 km.

    Nikola Tesla suggère d’adopter le courant alternatif qui selon lui résoudrait tous les problèmes, mais entêté, Edison n’en veut pas et commence à se méfier des idées de Tesla en qui il subodore un concurrent.

    Nikola travailla près d’un an comme un fou, de 10 h 30 du matin jusqu’à 5 heures du lendemain matin, prenant juste quelques heures pour se reposer.

    Durant ces mois, il redessina 24 types de machines standard, toutes construites d’après le même modèle cher à Edison, pour remplacer les anciennes.

    Edison lui avait promis 50.000 dollars s’il parvenait à mener à bien ce travail. C’était certes une somme considérable pour l’époque. Mais le jeune homme l’avait cru sur parole. Lorsque sa tâche accomplie son patron lui apprend que ce n’était qu’une plaisanterie, il démissionna.

    D’autres Américains lui proposèrent de fonder alors à son nom une société de lampes à arc.

    «J’acceptai, car j’y voyais une opportunité pour développer mon moteur. Toutefois, lorsque j’abordai ce sujet devant mes nouveaux associés, ils dirent : « Non, nous voulons des lampes à arc ; votre courant alternatif ne nous intéresse pas. »

    En 1886, mon système à arc était au point et il fut adopté pour l’éclairage des usines et de la ville ; j’étais libre, mais je ne possédais rien d’autre qu’un joli certificat d’investissement en actions de valeur hypothétique.

    Tesla bureau

    Nikola Tesla dans son bureau

    S’ensuivit alors une période de luttes dans un tout autre domaine pour lesquelles je n’étais pas préparé ; je fus finalement récompensé, et en avril 1887 fut fondée la Tesla Electric Company, m’offrant un laboratoire complètement équipé. Les moteurs que j’y ai construits étaient exactement tels que je les avais imaginés.»

    George Westinghouse, le dirigeant de la Westinghouse Electric Company à Pittsburgh, acheta les brevets industriels du système multiphasé de Tesla de sa dynamo à courant alternatif destiné à l’équipement de ses transformateurs et de ses moteurs.

    La transaction enclancha une titanesque compétition entre les systèmes à courant continu d’Edison et l’approche par le courant alternatif de Tesla-Westinghouse, qui finit par l’emporter.

    Cette fois le succès était à sa portée et Nikola Tesla en train de faire fortune. Sans lui monter à la tête, ce succès foudroyant venant après de nombreuses désillusions, le libéra de toutes ses inhibitions et lui permit de donner libre cours à ses rêves et à ses fantasmes.

    Vers 1892 Tesla se trouve en compétition avec Charles Steinmetz pour le perfectionnement de l’utilisation du courant alternatif. Nikola Tesla sortira largement vainqueur mais Charles Steinmetz, lui ravira pour un temps la paternité et la notoriété de l’invention. (Voir ci-après leur rencontre avec Albert Einstein).

    Car, il faut bien le souligner, Tesla n’est pas un inventeur comme les autres. C’est un être généreux, sensible, imaginatif, un poète de la science.

    Tesla Niagara

    L’usine de Niagara Falls

    À cette époque, un prix important était offert à quiconque parviendrait à capturer puis à redistribuer l’énergie libérée par les chutes du Niagara. Edison qui espérait emporter le marché s’employa à discréditer Tesla et son courant alternatif. Mais, malgré son opposition, le système de Tesla est adopté et une énorme centrale hydroélectrique polyphasée sera inaugurée sur les chutes du Niagara en 1895.

    Un inventeur visionnaire

    Durant ces quelques lustres où tout lui réussit, où une pluie d’or déferla sur lui, où la fantastique médiatisation de ses exploits le propulsa au sommet de la gloire, Nikola Tesla baigna dans une sorte de béatitude jubilatoire où la réalité se mêlait inextricablement à la fiction.

    En fait, comme au temps de son adolescence, l’inventeur vivait intensément dans sa tête, visualisant sur son écran intérieur les formules, les machines, les réseaux, les découvertes incroyables que lui fournissait sa prodigieuse imagination, sans toujours distinguer dans ses propos faire la part des réalisations accomplies et celles encore à l’état de rêve.

    Pour lui, tout ce qu’il imaginait était non seulement possible, mais il était absolument sûr qu’il allait le réaliser. Mince, frugal, infatigable, séduisant, il vivait avec passion cette ère de progrès scientifique bouillonnant.

    Évidemment, les journalistes adoraient ce savant charismatique, élégant, enthousiaste, échafaudant en paroles devant eux, au cours de banquets pharamineux – qu’il payait de sa poche – des concepts vertigineux, des projets incroyables, de folles prédictions, annonçant un monde fabuleux, que leurs articles du lendemain enjolivaient encore.

    Tesla pensif

    Nikola Tesla en pleine gloire
    Prophète de l’âge d’or

    «À partir du moment où Tesla eut attiré l’attention du public, il ne manqua pas d’exprimer des prophéties audacieuses et des affirmations ambitieuses; cependant, comme ses brevets furent très vite considérés comme les plus précieux de l’histoire et qu’il créait de nouvelles inventions à une vitesse phénoménale, ses déclarations, quoique surprenantes, étaient considérées comme parfaitement crédibles.

    La vérité était plus étonnante que la fiction dans les années 1890, et Tesla n’était pas le seul à avoir des rêves révolutionnaires.

    Ce n’est peut-être pas un hasard si les années 1890-1900 furent aussi les années de gloire de la presse à sensation, qui s’en donnait à cœur joie avec les inventeurs en général et avec Tesla en particulier.

    Ses recherches éblouissantes sur les hautes fréquences et ses démonstrations de magie scientifique devant les millionnaires qu’il fréquentait, ses nombreuses excentricités, son caractère exubérant, sa maîtrise de plusieurs langues et sa connaissance littéraire, sa propension à fantasmer sur les conditions futures avec plus ou moins de complaisance, tout cela lui permit de devenir le favori des éditeurs comme, par exemple, ses amis Hearst et Collier.»

    Tesla magicien

    Nikola Tesla magicien de l’électricité
    La réalité et la fiction

    Nikola Tesla qui déposera d’innombrables brevets d’invention, disposait d’un atout majeur : une mémoire visuelle remarquable et la faculté d’exposer dans un langage clair et compréhensible ce qu’il avait en tête, ses visions, et ce qu’il avait à dire.

    Alors que la plupart des chercheurs contemporains pataugeaient dans leurs explications, se contredisaient fréquemment, Tesla, vérifia par ses propres expériences, l’exactitude des équations de James Maxwell et faisant sienne son idée que la lumière est une onde électromagnétique, ce que niaient les plus grands hommes de science contemporains. Tesla définissait l’électricité et le magnétisme par la formulation suivante :

    «Un monde infinitésimal, constitué de molécules et de leurs atomes porteurs de charges statiques, tournant sur eux-mêmes et se déplaçant le long de leurs orbites, à la manière des corps célestes, entraînant avec eux l’éther … »

    Voilà, me semble-t-il l’explication la plus probable, et celle qui rend le mieux compte de la plupart des phénomènes observés.

    Les rotations des molécules autour d’elles-mêmes et de leur éther définissent les tensions de l’éther ou tensions électrostatiques; l’égalisation des tensions de l’éther crée d’autres mouvements ou courants électriques, et les mouvements orbitaux produisent les effets de l’électromagnétisme et du magnétisme permanent.»

    Des inventions géniales

    Nikola Tesla a découvert la radio avant Edison, le courant alternatif, la lampe à pastille de carbone, les bases de la robotique, la commande à distance. Il a expérimenté un navire télécommandé, décrit l’avion à décollage et atterrissage vertical, la fusée, élaboré le concept du microscope électronique, détecté la force de résonance des vibrations harmoniques, le principe du radar, la radio-diffusion mondiale, imaginé et réalisé les premiers essais de la transmission d’énergie électrique sans fil, l’onde stationnaire…

    Fiat lux

    Fiat Lux

    Il a été le premier à construire une machine équipée d’électro-aimants qui puisait son énergie dans une source infinie et inépuisable: l’énergie du point zéro, plus communément appelée énergie libre. Cette machine était non seulement capable de s’auto-alimenter, mais elle tirait son énergie de l’air environnant. Son appareil était muni d’une bobine à électro-aimants, pour laquelle il avait obtenu un brevet en 1894. La forme de sa bobine permettait au système d’emmagasiner une quantité énorme d’énergie, en n’utilisant qu’une infime partie de celle-ci pour son propre fonctionnement.

    De nos jours, des machines à énergie libre ont été construites et fonctionnent avec l’air ambiant pour seul carburant.

    Bruce De Palma, entre autres, s’est directement inspiré des travaux de Nikola Tesla pour élaborer sa N-machine fonctionnant en énergie libre, utilisant dans son appareil des aimants surpuissants. Comme Tesla l’avait dit avant lui, «le magnétisme est le conducteur idéal pour capter l’énergie libre de l’espace et la mettre à notre service».

    «Tesla ne donna que très peu de descriptions concrètes de son système radio ; par contre, il fit une large place à son vaste projet de réformer le monde avec des moyens technologiques consommant peu d’énergie. Il s’amusait à pousser ses théories mécanistes de la vie à l’extrême de leur logique : non seulement chaque être humain est un automate, mais l’humanité, dans sa globalité, obéit aux lois de la physique, au même titre que les molécules de gaz obéissent aux « lois des gaz ».»

    «Le seul but de Marconi était la communication sans fil, tandis que celui de Tesla (caché à J. P. Morgan qui a dû regarder les photos de l’article dans le Century sans lire le texte) était d’électrifier la terre entière sans fil, permettant immédiatement au hameau le plus isolé de la planète de profiter de tous les avantages de l’ère de l’électricité et de s’en servir gratuitement ! Tesla était tellement absorbé par son but utopique, qu’il ne fit pas grand chose pour faire connaître au public son bateau télécommandé qui, en 1898, était de loin en avance sur tous les appareils de ses concurrents en radio et robotique.»

    Bateau

    Navire téléguidé

    Ses conférences sur ces thèmes et bien d’autres eurent un succès retentissant. Ses travaux atteignirent leur apogée en 1898, lorsqu’il annonça l’invention d’un bateau électrique télécommandé.

    Devant le scepticisme exprimé par les scientifiques, Tesla confondit ses détracteurs en présence d’une foule considérable rassemblée au Madison Square Garden, pour la démonstration publique de son invention.

    Jenatzy

    Camille Jenatzy pilotant la « Jamais-Contente »

    C’est au cours de la même année que Nikola Tesla, dans un échange de lettres, conseilla l’ingénieur belge Camille Jenatzy, dont la Jamais contente, voiture à moteur électrique, allait bientôt pulvériser le record de vitesse automobile en atteignant les 105 km/heure ! Il avait connu son père, Constant, pionnier du pneu en caoutchouc, durant son séjour parisien.

    C’est à cette époque faste que Tesla construisit le prototype d’un transmetteur d’électricité expérimental, sans fil, au Colorado. Les essais ayant réussi à allumer des lampes à une distance d’environ 40 mètres, il entreprit l’édification d’une gigantesque tour à Long-Island d’où il projetait le ravitaillement en vol d’avions et de fusées à propulsion électrique et la transmission sans fil de courant électrique jusqu’en France. Faute de moyens, le « Projet Wardenclyffe » ne fut jamais achevé et la tour fut détruite en 1917.

    Les théories non orthodoxes de Tesla sur la transmission sans fil (qu’il considérait plus comme un phénomène de conduction de courant par l’air ou la terre et non de libre propagation d’ondes dans l’espace) arrivaient trop tôt. Son obstination à vouloir diffuser de l’électricité à distance, sans déperdition, ainsi que des images et des messages, irrita ses commanditaires avides de profits immédiats. Ainsi, ses travaux de pionnier dans le domaine de la transmission d’énergie à distance, sans fil, ne seront reconnus officiellement aux États-Unis que bien plus tard et reprises qu’au début du XXIe siécle.

    fusee

    Nikola Tesla : Projet de machine volante électrique
    Navigation aérienne

    Nous avons signalé qu’avant même sa rencontre à Paris avec Clément Ader, Nikola Tesla s’était passionné pour le vol aérien.

    Lors d’une interview en 1912 un Bertie Wilson rappelait à Tesla : « La plus grande partie de vos recherches a été axée sur l’électricité, et personne ne peut oublier que ce sont vos inventions qui ont rendu possible la plupart des grands développements électriques dans le monde.»

    «Certes, répondait-il, mais j’étais ingénieur en mécanique avant d’être ingénieur en électricité, et en plus, j’avais travaillé sur ce principe au cours de ma recherche du moteur idéal convenant aux vaisseaux aériens, ce principe étant destiné à être utilisé en conjonction avec mon invention de la transmission d’électricité sans fil. Pendant vingt ans, j’ai travaillé sur ce problème, mais je n’ai pas abandonné. Quand mon plan sera parfait, alors les avions et ballons dirigeables d’aujourd’hui et le sport dangereux représenté par l’aviation tels que nous les connaissons à ce jour avec ses centaines d’accidents, ses hommes volants pittoresques, feront place à des vaisseaux volants en bon état de navigabilité et sûrs, sans ailes ou réservoirs d’essence, mais soutenus et propulsés par des moyens mécaniques.»

    article

    Nikola Tesla : La révolution des ondes

    Nikola Tesla avait fourni ses plans pour un détecteur à faisceau d’énergie qui pouvait envoyer des ondes basse-fréquence à travers l’eau pour se réfléchir sur n’importe quel objet caché, la NSC pensa que l’idée était trop ésotérique et chercha une technologie plus conventionnelle.

    De toute façon, la vague d’ondes à basse-énergie ne fonctionnait pas correctement dans l’eau, mais des années après, la description de Tesla de son invention, fut la base pour un des plus importants appareils apparut pendant la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale, le radar.

    Les sources sanskrites de la pensée de Nikola Tesla

    Nikola Tesla a utilisé, dans ses descriptions de phénomènes naturels, la terminologie sanskrite ancienne dont il maîtrisait la langue.

    Dès 1891, l’ingénieur avait décrit l’univers comme un système cinétique rempli d’énergie auquel l’homme pourrait se brancher à n’importe quel endroit et à tout moment. Au cours des années suivantes ses concepts ont été fortement influencés par les enseignements de Swami Vivekananda qu’il rencontra longuement en 1881 et avec qui il eut plusieurs entretiens. Swami Vivekananda était l’un des premiers maîtres orientaux à apporter à l’Occident, l’enseignement du yoga et de la religion védique.

    vivekananda

    Nikola Tesla Vivekananda

    Après sa rencontre avec le Swami et étudié plus à fond les textes védiques, Tesla prit conscience des mécanismes qui, dans la philosophie hindoue président au monde matériel. Ayant assimilé les concepts sanskrits de l’akasha (espace éthérique) et du prana (source de l’énergie universelle), il adhéra au concept d’un éther lumineux pour décrire la source, l’existence et la construction de la matière.

    L’étude approfondie des textes védiques grâce au Swami, sa passionnante correspondance avec Lord Kelvin lui aussi adepte des Vedanta, sa relation avec Walter Russell et d’autres physiciens de haut niveau, l’inciteront à étudier plus à fond les systèmes d’énergie libres.

    Énergies libres

    La découverte la plus prometteuse de Nikola Tesla fut, vers 1905, la démonstration que l’énergie électrique pouvait être transmise à travers la Terre et autour de celle-ci par des ondes électromagnétiques de très basse fréquence, autour de 8 Hz, se propageant pratiquement sans perte vers n’importe quel point de la planète.

    Cette hypothèse sera en partie confirmée cinquante ans plus tard, en 1952, par le physicien W.O. Schumann qui donna son nom à la pulsation du champ magnétique terrestre (résonance de Schumann).

    Le système de distribution de force de Tesla et son intérêt pour l’énergie libre impliquaient que n’importe qui dans le monde pourrait y puiser, à condition de s’équiper du dispositif électrique approprié, compatible avec la transmission d’énergie.

    wardencliffe

    Projet Wardenclyffe : Tour inachevée de Long-Island

    Cette découverte extraordinaire d’une énergie quasi gratuite pour tous lui fut fatale. Considérant les travaux du génial ingénieur comme une menace insupportable pour leurs intérêts, les maîtres des puissantes sociétés qui contrôlaient la distribution de l’énergie électrique et s’enrichissaient avec le pétrole, ils les boycottèrent immédiatement.

    Cette entraîna pour Tesla la suppression du financement des recherches de ses travaux. S’ensuivit une réprobation unanime de l’establishment scientifique, soudoyé par les magnats de l’énergie craignant une atteinte à leur monopole. Ses motivations philanthropiques apparaissant par trop dangereuses aux capitalistes qui le soutenaient jusque là, lui valant une mise à l’écart définitive des grands laboratoires de recherche. Ses adversaires allèrent jusqu’à exiger la radiation de son nom des livres d’histoire !

    En 1895, Tesla était une superstar de la science ; en 1917 il n’était virtuellement plus rien et, privé de moyens et d’un laboratoire performant, il dut se contenter de petites expériences conduites dans un isolement quasi total.

    Lors de sa traditionnelle conférence de presse annuelle donnée à l’occasion de son anniversaire, Tesla apparaissait à chaque fois, silhouette fragile flottant dans un élégant pardessus ouvert d’avant 14, devant un parterre de journalistes de plus en olus clairsemé. Parlant avec aisance, maîtrisant parfaitement l’art de convaincre son auditoire, il annonçait des découvertes surprenantes et l’état d’avancement de ses recherches avant même qu’il ne les ait entreprises.

    En 1921, lors d’une rencontre entre Einstein, Tesla et Steinmetz, certains organes de presse effacèrent carrément Nikola Tesla de la photo !

    Ses détracteurs parlaient de lui en dénonçant un mélange d’ego et de génie frustré.

    Durant plus d’une décennie, alors que le monde connaissait une révolution technique fulgurante basée sur ses inventions, l’ingénieur se sentit peu à peu délaissé par les investisseurs. Les capitalistes préféraient à son génie le savoir faire des money-maker dont chaque brevet – plagiant souvent des procédés de Tesla – rapportait des sommes colossales aux sociétés qui les exploitaient.

    Cet état de choses perdura jusqu’à la Crise de 1929-1932. Pourtant, toujours aussi créatif, Nikola imaginait, brevetait, publiait, mais dans le vide, sans disposer des moyens de réaliser ses projets, perdant au fil du temps de sa substance, de son crédit et jusqu’à sa fortune.

    Dans les Affaires, les financiers avaient pris le relais des créateurs et c’était à la Bourse et non plus dans la prospérité des entreprises réelles que s’investissait l’argent.

    1931 : Time Hommage à Nikola Tesla

    En 1931, le magazine Time fêta les soixante-quinze ans de Nikola Tesla, dans un vibrant hommage médiatique, avec son portrait à la Une accompagné d’un article biographique dithyrambique. Ce fut une apothéose sans lendemain.

    L’inventeur vieillissant, dont la maigreur n’impliquait pas qu’il fût malade, – il gardait grâce à son régime d’ascète, les cheveux noirs luisants et le regard brillant d’un visionnaire. Mais, devant le tapis vert de la roue de la fortune, il avait perdu la main.

    1931 : «Au cours de l’été de 1931, Nikola Tesla fit des essais sur route d’une berline Pierce Arrow haut de gamme propulsée par un moteur électrique à courant alternatif, tournant à 1.800 t/m, alimenté par un récepteur de l’énergie puisée dans l’éther partout présent.»

    Pierce Arrow 1931 devant Station Shell

    «Pendant une semaine de l’hiver 1931, la ville de Buffalo, au nord de l’état de New York, USA, fut témoin d’un événement extraordinaire. La récession économique, qui avait ralenti les affaires et l’industrie, n’avait cependant pas diminué l’activité grouillante de la ville. Un jour, parmi les milliers de véhicules qui sillonnaient les rues, une voiture de luxe s’arrêta le long du trottoir devant les feux à un carrefour. Un piéton observa cette toute nouvelle berline Pierce Arrow dont les coupelles de phares, d’un style typique de la marque, se fondaient joliment dans les garde-boue avant. L’observateur s’étonna de ce que, par cette fraîche matinée, aucune vapeur ne semblait jaillir du pot d’échappement ; il s’approcha du conducteur et, par la fenêtre ouverte, lui en fit la remarque. Ce dernier salua le compliment et donna comme explication que la voiture ne « possédait pas de moteur ».»

    Quelques mois après la mort de Nikola Tesla, en 1943, la Cour suprême américaine frappa de nullité le brevet de la radio de Marconi, reconnaissant un peu tard l’antériorité des travaux de Tesla, Oliver Lodge et John Stone. Ne s’étant jamais marié, Nikola Tesla n’avait pas d’héritiers directs et ne laissa pas de dispositions testamentaires. Ainsi, le FBI saisit l’ensemble de ses papiers et les fit transporter à Washington où ils furent mis sous scellés et classifiés Top Secret. Ses funérailles se déroulèrent le 12 janvier 1943 à la cathédrale de New York Saint-Jean-le-Divin au nord de Central Park, église qui se voulait la plus vaste du monde mais ne fut jamais achevée.

    tesla funeral

    Funérailles de Nikola Tesla à la Cathédrale St-John-the-Divine

    En 2007, par un juste retour des choses, un constructeur de la Silicon Valley, intitule sa société « Tesla motors » et produit une voiture de sport électrique, racée et élégante, haut-de-gamme, en hommage à Nikola Tesla.

    En 2008, de jeunes chercheurs américains reprenant les études de Tesla en épluchant ses brevets tombés dans le domaine public, réussissent à reproduire en plus grand et à plus longue distance son procédé de transmission sans fil de l’énergie électrique.

    Gageons que dans moins d’un siècle le rêve de Nikola Tesla de voir des appareils propres voler d’un continent à l’autre en utilisant l’énergie libre sera devenu réalité, que l’homme tirera de la foudre une énergie bon marché, mais je parie également que par un tour de passe-passe les salauds qui nous gouvernent parviendront à nous faire payer cette énergie gratuite au prix fort, comme ils feront payer à nos enfants l’air qu’ils respireront, comme déjà ils nous vendent avec bénéfice l’eau qu’ils polluent et dépolluent à leur profit et à leur gré.

    auto

    L’élégant « roadster » électrique de Tesla Motors


    Accueil Science & Magie         Tesla: Mes inventions

 

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