Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian-born American inventor, engineer, and futurist, whose inventions revolutionized the world. He made major contributions to the production and transmission of electricity. He invented the first alternating current (AC) motor and developed AC generation and transmission technology with George Westinghouse.
The great inventor Thomas Edison was his first employer in America and his biggest rival in the “War of Currents” between AC and DC. Tesla is also often depicted in science fiction, mainly due to his unconventional experiments and claims. There has been a great resurgence in the interest in his works in recent years.
Elon Musk has also named his electric car company after Tesla. If you ever wondered what is so special about Tesla and why people are so obsessed with him, here’s our list of his top 10 fascinating inventions which prove his genius and, sometimes revolutionized the world.
Nikola Tesla designed an electrical resonant transformer circuit which used produced high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency AC electricity in 1891. He applied these circuits for conducting extensive experiments on wireless electricity transmission, electrical lighting, X-rays, high-frequency AC current, and many other innovative experiments. In the early 20th Century, they were used in commercial radio transmitters and wireless telegraphs. Nowadays there are used mainly for scientific-educational purposes or entertainment.
Tesla Electro-Mechanical Oscillator/ Earthquake Machine
In 1893, Nikola Tesla invented an electric generator using steam power in order to replace the inefficient existing steam engines of the time. In Tesla’s oscillator, steam will go into the oscillator, and exit through a number of ports causing the piston to move up and down which in turn was connected to an armature, generating electricity.
The pressure inside the steam chamber went up to 400 psi and temperatures greater than 200 °C. Tesla tried to make the oscillator more efficient by using trapped air behind the piston as an “air spring”, and by using electromagnets to control the oscillation frequency of the oscillator. Tesla once claimed that a version of his oscillator had caused extreme vibrations in the structures and even an earthquake in New York City, hence the name “Earthquake Machine”.
Tesla Tower, also known as the Wardenclyffe Tower was a wireless transmission station designed and built by Nikola Tesla on Long Island, New York in 1901-02. Tesla wanted to transmit messages, telephone signals, and even facsimile images across the Atlantic to England and to ships at sea. Tesla’s goal was the invention of a wireless power transmission system.
He thought that if he injected electric current into the Earth at the right frequency, he could utilize the Earth’s own electrical charge, causing Earth to resonate at a frequency like standing waves. He thought this energy could be extracted anywhere on the planet. However, this was a flawed assumption. His wireless transmission projects lost out to Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless systems.
Tesla’s Radio-controlled Boat
Tesla demonstrated a small boat that he maneuvered using a small radio system at an exhibition at Madison Square Garden, New York in 1898. He could wirelessly move the small boat about a pool of water. He could even flash its lights on and off, wirelessly.
Very few people at the time knew the existence of radio waves, and many thought his experiment was magic. Tesla was an amazing showman. He made the audience think that the boat would obey the verbal commands from the audience, but it was, in fact, controlled by Tesla’s radio system. Tesla obtained a US patent for this invention in 1898.
Nikola Tesla invented a bladeless centripetal flow turbine in 1913. It is known as the boundary-layer turbine due to it using the boundary-layer effect and not a fluid impinging upon the blades as in a conventional turbine. Tesla developed his turbine due to the fact that attaining the highest efficiency would need velocity and direction changes of movement of fluid as gradually as possible.
His turbine consisted of a set of smooth disks, with nozzles applying a moving fluid to the edge of the disk. Due to the viscosity and the adhesion of the surface layer of the fluid, it drags on the disk. As the fluid slows and adds energy to the disks, it spirals into the center exhaust. Despite its benefits, Tesla’s Turbine has not seen widespread usage until now.
Tesla’s Turbine was way ahead of its time and most of its drawbacks account for the poor knowledge of materials characteristics and behaviors at high temperatures at that time. Tesla turbine had turbine efficiency (not engine efficiency) of above 60%, the maximum being 95%.
Tesla invented an induction motor that worked on AC current in 1888. An induction motor is an AC electric motor in which the electric current in the rotor needed to produce torque is obtained by electromagnetic induction from the magnetic field of the stator winding.
Using polyphase current, Tesla could generate a rotating magnetic field that turns the motor. The motor had a self-starting design, this was a very good improvement over other AC motors of the time, which needed a commutator, and thus were susceptible to sparking and constant servicing and replacing mechanical brushes.
Tesla invented a fixed-geometry passive check valve in 1920. It allows fluid to flow in one direction only and restricts the flow in the opposite direction, all without any moving parts. In the interior of the value, Tesla made enlargements, recesses, projections, baffles, or buckets.
This arrangement offered virtually no resistance to the passage of the fluid in one direction except surface friction. The flow of fluid in the backward direction was almost impossible. Today, the Tesla valve is used in applications where the fluid is constrained in a small chamber/area.
Vacuum Variable Capacitor
Tesla invented a vacuum variable capacitor in 1896. A vacuum variable capacitor is a variable capacitor using a high vacuum as the dielectric instead of other insulating materials. Vacuum variable capacitors have a higher voltage rating using a small volume.
The intended to use this capacitor for enhancing the quality of the electrical components dealing with currents of high frequency and potential. Today, Vacuum variable capacitors are frequently used in high-voltage applications such as high-power broadcast transmitters, radio RF amplifiers, large antenna tuners, plasma generating equipment, dielectric heating equipment, and semiconductor manufacturing.
Resonant Inductive Coupling
In inductive coupling, if the coupling becomes stronger when the load-bearing side of the loosely coupled coil resonates, it is known as Resonant inductive coupling. Nikola Tesla utilized resonant inductive coupling to light up phosphorescent and incandescent lamps wirelessly at his laboratories in New York City in 1894.
Tesla patented a device known as the high-voltage resonant transformer in 1897. Resonant coupling systems today have plenty of applications in short-range wireless electricity transmission to power laptops, phones, implanted medical devices, electric cars, automated vehicles, etc. They are also used in data transmission in RFID tags and smart cards, to couple the stages of superheterodyne receivers in radios and in X-ray production.
Death Ray is a theorized weapon using particle beams or electromagnetic radiation for military applications. Tesla claimed to have invented a death beam called Teleforce in the 1930s. He said he won’t employ rays (radiation) because it is difficult to produce them in quantities feasible and they will rapidly decrease in intensity with distance.
He said he would employ relatively large particles or particles of microscopic dimensions, thus enabling the focus of a large quantity of energy on a target. Tesla proposed that a nation could “destroy anything approaching within 200 miles… [and] will provide a wall of power” in order to “make any country, large or small, impregnable against armies, airplanes, and other means for attack”.
Most of these weapons are fictional, however modern technology has enabled such directed-energy weapons as the US Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which was deployed for service in 2014.
How was this list of Top 10 Tesla’s fascinating inventions? Pretty cool, Isn’t it? What was your favorite Tesla invention? Comment below.
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