A Man for All Time - Nikola Tesla

Tesla Serb

The one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the birth of great Serbian and world scientist Nikola Tesla was marked in Belgrade, throughout Serbia, in his native Smiljan, but also elsewhere in the world: in Graz, Niagara Falls...

By Zlatica Ivković

There have been few scientists among the world's greats who obliged mankind as much as Tesla. He has a special place because his inspirational inventions will remain forever part of our civilization. A man for all time and an "electricity genius" - this was Nikola Tesla, said Serbian Arts and Sciences Academy (SANU) President Dr Nikola Hajdin at the opening of the central event held on the occasion of marking the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of birth of Nikola Tesla at Belgrade Sava Convention Hall on July 10, 2006. On the same morning of the anniversary of one of the greatest minds and a man of the world, at Belgrade airport that bears the great man's name, a monument - work of Darinka Radovanović - devoted to him was unveiled by Mining and Energy Supply Minister Radomir Naumov. Distinguished guests that attended included members of the Serbian government, diplomatic corps, representatives of our community from the town of Niagara Falls in Canada, representatives of the power supply company of Serbia, which financed the making of the monument.

The sculpture is 3.1 meters high and weighs some 1,000 kilograms. It was cast in polished bronze, as its platform is also three meters high and covered in light-colored granite. As he unveiled the monument, Dr Naumov stressed that the monument should remind all those coming to and going from Serbia of the great achievements of the renowned scientist.

In Smiljan, near the town of Gospić, the birthplace of Nikola Tesla, the festivities on the occasion of the anniversary of this celebrity in science was attended also by Serbian President Boris Tadić, who reminded that "Tesla shared the responsibility of the time in which he lived, that he tried to prevent war and contemplated on such scientific achievements as would bring about peace... His messages are something we would be well-advised to remember. One of them is that he was proud of his Serbian origin and Croatian homeland, as he was also proud of the United States of America, where he lived."

In Graz, too, where Tesla studied technical sciences and where still today there existed one of the largest high voltage laboratories in Europe, there was a celebration held on the occasion of this anniversary attended by prominent guests from the world of science and diplomacy. The laboratory, where the central event was held and where an exhibition about the work and life of Tesla was opened, was on this occasion named after the great scientist.

The émigré community in Canada, at Niagara Falls, where on the basis of Tesla's patent for alternating current the first hydro-electrical power plant was built in 1888, also held an impressive celebration.

In addition to the monument to Nikola Tesla at Niagara Falls that was put up thirty years ago (a copy of the monument done by Frane Kršinić outside the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade) another monument dedicated to Nikola Tesla was unveiled on June 9. It is the work of Canadian sculptor Les Dreysdale. The monument was put up by the "St. George" Serbian Orthodox Church community in Canada.

Nikola Tesla - From Smiljan to Olympian Heights in Science

By Vladimir Ajdačić

One of the greatest inventors of all time Nikola Tesla (1856- 1943) gained everlasting fame with his contributions to electrical power and electrical engineering. He was a founder of the second scientific-technical revolution that began in the late nineteenth century and flourished to the full in the last century marked by unparallel increase in industrial production as well as the two world wars.

Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in the small village of Smiljan in the Lika region. This is where he began attending elementary school, which he left to continue in the town of Gospić after the tragic death of his brother and the family's moving there. Upon completion of elementary school, he began attending high school in Gospić and in the 1871-1874 continued his education in the high school in Karlovac. In Graz, he studied at the Polytechnic School and completed it in 1879. The next year, he got his first job - he became assistant engineer in Maribor, and enrolled in the University of Prague.

After a two-year stay in Budapest as technical draftsman at the Central Telephone Office, he came up with the idea about the rotating magnetic field in 1882. The realization of this idea is to change Tesla's life dramatically - in place of fixing and amending other people's devices - he would proceed to focus on developing his own machines and contraptions such as the world has neither seen nor thought could exist.

For a time in the course of 1882, he stayed in Paris, where he worked with Continental Edison Company, and then in Strasburg, where he made the first model of the first induction motor. Governed by the thought that he would meet with a better acceptance of his ideas and inventions in America, Tesla arrived to the ‘Promised Land by ship in 1884. He took a job briefly with Edison, but in place of support was met with resistance and lack of understanding. This is why he soon founded his own company - the "Tesla Arc Light Co." in New York.

At the 1893 World Exhibition in Chicago, Tesla achieved great success. His electrical motors and lighting of Chicago with a bright light caused admiration not only among the exhibition's lay visitors but also among the top savants in the areas of science and technology. Tesla has thus beaten favoured Thomas Alva Edison for building an electrical power plant on Niagara Falls. Tesla's concept to use polyphase alternating-current generators was accepted. After the grandiose success of launching this hydro-electrical power plant in 1895, Tesla lost no time in basking in his newly-won fame but untiringly continued working on new inventions.

In the early 1890s, Tesla focused his attention on communication by radio waves at great distances and very high voltage and frequency alternating currents. He had built in Colorado Springs a radio station the power of which was 200 kW. Also, experimenting with a high voltage transformer, now called Tesla's Transformer, Tesla was able to obtain voltage of as much as twelve million volts! Achieving something like this at the time was well-nigh inconceivable. In Colorado Springs, Tesla came up with the idea about transporting considerable quantities of energy without wires from a distance as well as about different possibilities of making use of the ionosphere.

The tireless inventor registered with the US Patent Office inventions in the area of radio technology and remote control of radio waves in the early years of the twentieth century. He began building a gigantic tower at Long Island, an island near New York City. His basic intention was to use the tower to for wireless energy transport and then subsequently as a long range radio station antenna. Unfortunately, his financier J.P Morgan backed out from the project and Tesla's dream failed to materialize. The tower at Warden Cliff was destroyed by dynamite to appease at least in part the creditors by selling its components under price.

This was a great blow to the inventor who has spent his entire life working for the good of mankind. In a country where everything is measured with money no one remembered what Tesla had presented them with so they could feel the need to assist him in his days of loneliness and poverty. To put it in a nutshell, the world simply was not ready for the appearance of such a genius that Tesla was. It was only Tesla's death on January 7, 1943, that reminded them that there was a man of enormous talent who cared not for money and material goods. This was a man who climbed all the way from a small village of Smiljan to the Olympian heights of science all alone.

Source: JAT review