Where would we be without electricity? Ending at the 1893 World Fair, a war between Tesla’s Alternating Current (AC) and Thomas Edison’s Direct Current (DC) finally came to a close. Edison was a better marketer than he was an inventor and he started conducting experiments for the public to show how dangerous alternating current could be. To do this, he basically just electrocuted animals. In front of people. Tesla countered by passing electricity through his own body to power a lightbulb. In the end, AC electricity was safer and cheaper and therefore is what is used in our homes today. DC electricity can be found in cars, namely cigarette lighters.
9. Light bulb
Speaking of light bulbs, Tesla invented the fluorescent light bulbs and the original neon sign. Most famously though was his Tesla Coil which harnessed the power of the Earth’s magnetic field to produce limitless energy. Why we aren’t using it today can be blamed on big corporations that make their money off coal, petroleum, and other forms of electricity. Either way, we have Nikola to thank for lighting cubicle farms around the world and providing tacky lighting in basements across the country.
The medical field made a huge jump in the diagnosis of ailments ranging from broken bones to cancer to army men stuck up the noses of children. Allowing us to see inside a body eliminated much of the guesswork of pre 20th century doctors. Using his favorite fields of study, electromagnetism and ionizing radiation, Nikola Tesla made this possible and clumsy children and parents around the globe rejoiced.
Your morning commute would be much more boring without Katy Perry’s latest song pumping through your speakers. And guess who you have to thank for that. Yep, Guglielmo Marconi is typically credited with the invention but the Supreme Court overturned that patent when it was proven that Tesla had successfully designed the first radio years earlier. It should be noted that Marconi had support of many financial backers, including Edison, who may have persuaded the initial ruling in Marconi’s favor. The radio’s invention revolutionized communications and the entertainment industry allowing for more organized troops and happier citizens.
6. Remote Control
Many an American would thank Nikola Tesla profusely for his invention of the remote control. No longer would we have to actually get up to change the channel on our television sets or get out of our cars to open our garage doors. Laziness aside, the remote control was originally used to pilot toy boats and was picked up by the US military for less cute pursuits. Though he demonstrated its use in 1898, way before the popularity of the television set swept the world, his invention didn’t get much use until much later in time.
5. Electric Motor
Hippies, environmentalists, and Al Gore all have a soap box to stand on and a hybrid car to get there due to Tesla’s invention of the electric motor. In fact, the car company most famous for building electric cars that we’d actually want to drive is named after the inventor who made it all possible. If you’re looking for something to cover up that bare wall in your bedroom, grab yourself a Tesla Roadster poster. The electric motor is not limited to the transportation industry though. You can see one of these wonderful motors in everyday items like fans, power tools, watches, and even the computer you’re using to read this. Whoa. That’s so meta…
If the human race does fall due to the self aware robots of SkyNet, you know who is to blame. On the other hand, manufacturing lines, biochemical research, and many other aspects of life that we take for granted would be forever hindered without the invention of robotics. To further the Terminator reference and possibly bring Isaac Asimov into the conversation (he wrote I, Robot), Tesla did state that these creations should have limitations built in, namely growth and propagation, to keep them from enslaving the human race and taking over the planet. A real forward thinker he was.
Star Wars and the James Bond series would be much more boring without lasers. Plus the whole part about being able to use your computer because of the lasers reading the hard drive and probably guiding your mouse. Lasers can be dangerous in the wrong hands, as every spy movie ever made has shown us, but they can also save and improve lives. Laser eye surgery has allowed a level of freedom to millions of people with poor eyesight as has other forms of laser surgery. And our nation is currently protected by a laser defense system. Not to mention all the fun children have with (and boring lectures are punctuated by) laser pointers. High five, Tesla. We’d still be using cassettes and tapes if it wasn’t for you.
2. Wireless Communications
This goes along with his invention of the radio. A common theme you will find in Tesla’s research and inventions is the harnessing of the natural energies and frequencies around us. The radio was the beginning of this but Nikola had bigger plans and loftier goals. He wanted to be able to wirelessly transmit voice, text, images, and any other data you might need transmitting. Sound familiar? Because odds are that you’ve got a device in your pocket right now that does all that. That’s right, Nikola Tesla tried to invent the smartphone back at the start of the 20th century. And given more time and resources, you might be using an iTesla today.
1. Wireless Energy Transfer
Wireless Energy Transfer is a dream of everyone except those companies currently selling energy. J.P. Morgan paid Tesla $150,000, which is about 2.4 trillion dollars today to build a tower that could transmit all that data from his wireless communications idea. It was successful but the Big Business fat cats soon realized that this meant there would be free energy for everyone and how can you make money off something that’s free? Which is why you haven’t heard of Nikola Tesla’s most important, and most repressed invention of his lifetime.