Nikola Tesla

Born - Jul 10, 1856   |   Died - Jan 7, 1943   |   Genres - History [nf], Science & Technology [nf]

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Celebrated as an inventor and cult hero in modern culture, Serb-American physicist and engineer Nikola Tesla spent much of his professional life fighting for recognition and respect. His work with electricity, magnetism, and wireless communication helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution. Tesla's work with AC current eventually proved to be drastically ahead of its time, though to establish this, Tesla had to battle Thomas Edison's corporate machine, which lobbied for the support of DC current. A genius as well as an eccentric character, Tesla was prone to obsession and was known to work for days on end. His work eventually incorporated x-rays, mechanics, polyphase power systems, florescent lights, robotics, wireless telegraphy, artificial lightning, atmospheric electricity, and more. Tesla's investigations into particle beams -- which could theoretically be used to produce a "death ray" type weapon -- are still classified by the U.S. government, and are not available to the public. Nikola Tesla has been portrayed in films such as The Prestige and The Secret Life of Nikola Tesla and has been the subject of documentaries such as Nikola Tesla: The Genius Who Lit the World. Never caring adequately for his finances, he died with very little money.