Inventors are doers, but first they are thinkers. And while some invent gadgets, others invent systems. This month’s IV inventor superhero thought long and hard about how to enhance the world we live in, and his inventions and system innovations are engrained in just about everything we use in modern life.
Inventor Superhero: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)
Superpowers: Electrical currents, mathematics, radar technology, and energy conversion
Eureka! Moment: Tesla began his career in the 1800s in Budapest as an electrical engineer for a telephone company. He was fascinated with electricity, and one day while strolling through a park with a friend, he had a flash of genius that set a course for his life’s work: Tesla unraveled the solution to the rotating magnetic field. He stopped along his walk, grabbed a stick, and drew a diagram in the sand that explained the principles of the induction motor.
Superhero Lair: Wardenclyffe — Tesla’s red brick laboratory on Long Island, NY, where he worked to establish a wireless telegraphy plant. Today, Wardenclyffe is Tesla’s only remaining lab building. In 2012, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, in collaboration with internet cartoonist Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) launched a campaign to purchase and restore the property.
Cool Gadget/Systems: Tesla invented the alternating current electrical system, which is still widely used around the world. He also developed the Tesla coil, a system of generators, and he harnessed the power of Niagara Falls by creating the first-ever hydroelectric power plant.
Childhood Hero: While we can’t confirm that Tesla’s hero was his mother, we know he gained his inventiveness and interest in electrical technology from her. Djuka Mandic was known for her creations and modifications of household appliances.
Nemesis: Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla consistently butted heads over direct and alternating current. Even though Tesla came to the United Stated to study alongside Edison, they eventually split paths due to their conflicting, insistent beliefs on the most efficient type of current. In the end, Tesla was the unsung victor.
Who’s your favorite inventor superhero? Let us know who we should profile next @IVinvents.