Monthly Archives: June 2013

Ajinkya Sathe : Tesla article


Nikola Tesla once said “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine”. Trying to understand how influential he was in the world that we live in more than 60 years after his death, I started to think about his contributions. And then I was surprised.

The paper on which this article is printed and the inks that you are reading, are made in automated paper manufacturing processes and dye manufacturing factories. Who made the first “robot”, defined on Google as “A machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically”? It was Tesla. Oh is it dark and the ink not bright enough to read this easily? Don’t worry, use a light bulb. Who made the first bulb? Thomas Edison. Oh but he fought with Tesla during the era of the famous “War of the Currents” and did not allow Tesla to use his product, and hence Tesla ended up making a bulb out of his own design which ended up being more efficient than Edison’s. Well, but what about the electricity needed to give in the energy to the bulb to illuminate? Don’t worry. Tesla got that covered too. With his AC (Alternating Current) electric motor, he made the transmission of electric currents over long distances possible. And of course, the previously mentioned industries are functioning because of the same current. And the list of the things influenced by Tesla to a common man, goes on and on. Needless to say, deciding what to write is a problem of plenty and truly a challenging task.

I was first introduced about Tesla through an online comic from The Oatmeal. Myself pursuing engineering, I couldn’t be less shameful to know absolutely nothing about Tesla apart from that magnetic field strength had its unit as Tesla. Yes, it meant that he was important person. Only the likes of Isaac Newton, James Prescott Joule, Lord Kelvin, Michael Faraday, etc. had their names used as SI units. But then the story of the enormity of Tesla was something never told. It was this comic that got me curious to know about Nikola Tesla. Then thanks to the internet, I read more about Tesla and his experiments. Oh by the way, Tesla has his hands dipped in the field of long-distance broadcasting and communication lines too. The first person to achieve successful radio transmission Guglielmo Marconi, applied Tesla’s ideas and published work into constructing the first radio. The more I learnt about Tesla, the more I was spellbound by his genius, and the more I felt ashamed of not knowing about his work despite having a deep interest for science. But then it’s truly said, “better late than never”.

Ajinkya Digambar Sathe

Columbia University, New York