The true story of Nikola Tesla (part 2)

Article originally written by Sapna Gotame….B.Sc Ag……IAAS, Paklihawa

Okay, so we are back. Let’s take a look at the many things that Tesla discovered or invented but sometimes fully didn’t get credit for.


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Many people mistakenly think that Guglielmo Marconi was the inventor of this radio to this day. However, his work was based on the work done by Nikola Tesla.

Tesla theorized that radio waves could transmit information as far back as 1893 in lecture demonstrations.

In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat which he dubbed Tele-automation. That kind of sounds pretty standard today but you have to understand that this was 1898.

The crowd that witnessed the demonstration was so shocked that they literally claimed Tesla was using magic, telepathy or had a trained monkey hidden inside controlling the boat.

When Marconi became the world famous for sending the first transatlantic message, Tesla said the following: “Marconi is a good fellow, let him continue. He is using 17 of my patents.”


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X-ray was discovered by Tesla before Wilhelm Rontgen was credited with the discovery. In fact, Tesla took the very first X-ray photos.

For some reason, after Wilhelm claimed discovery, it was believed that x-rays could cure blindness and other ailments.

Despite Tesla’s warnings that x-rays could be dangerous, Edison tested it on one of his employees Clarence Dulli who after having his arms amputated eventually died from cancer.

Edison also fired x-rays on his own eyes during experiments. When questioned about it in 1903 Edison said “don’t talk about x-rays, I’m afraid of them.”


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Tesla designed the first hydro-electric plant that was powerful enough t light a city. At Niagara falls, proving to the world that waterfalls could make a practical energy source on a large scale.

A lot of people told him that wouldn’t work but Tesla had already envisioned how a generator could harness energy from moving water when he was still a child. People were shocked but also delighted to see his vision power whole major U.S. cities.

The earthquake machine:

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Tesla created a little pocket-sized machine that when placed in a building in wall street and set to the building’s natural frequency made the structure wobble so much that steel workers came down to the ground in a panic believing that must have been an earthquake.

When the police were called, Tesla put the device back in his pocket and walked away. Tesla claimed that if he had 10 minutes more, he could have laid that building to the ground and using the same device could have dropped the Brooklyn Bridge in less than one hour.

Tesla also figured out the resonant frequency of the earth 50 years before the technology allowed scientists to catch up with his discovery.

And lastly,

The Tesla Tower:

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So far, the previous inventions were all things that made it to reality but one of Tesla’s most ambitious projects was actually a failure although it’s now became a Tesla legend forever romanticized.

I’m of course talking about the famous ‘Wardenclyffe Tower’ otherwise known as the Tesla Tower set to deliver free energy to the world by using Earth’s ionosphere as part of the transmission device or was it?

The story goes that the financial backer JP Morgan shut the project down when he discovered it wouldn’t make any money. This isn’t entirely true though.

Tesla had actually sold the project to Morgan as a wireless communication tower, not as a means of producing or transmitting energy. The financial backing from J.P. Morgan was only pulled when Marconi sent the first radio waves across the Atlantic making Morgan change his mind.

The project dragged on without Morgan and ran away over time and ridiculously over budget until it finally collapsed.

Aside from this, what in science today says that the Tesla Tower wouldn’t have worked, this is mainly due to technicalities such as energy loss due to transmission and Tesla’s misunderstanding of the physics of radio waves.

This was Tesla’s first major failure that brought him great shame. This was what set him on a downward path that eventually led to the decline of the legend.

Four facts about Tesla:

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  1. Tesla loved humanity: As a humanist, Tesla believed improving the quality of human life but not for financial gains. (“Money doesn’t mean as much to me as it does to others, all my money has gone into inventions to make man’s life a little easier.” Tesla)
  2. Tesla envisioned a wireless internet in 1901. While Tesla was developing a transatlantic radio, he envisioned the system of collecting information encoding it and broadcasting that information to a handheld device. This is basically what we have now as the mobile internet on our phones. Pretty impressive for site in 1901.
  3. Tesla actually lost everything at one stage. As Tesla was working tirelessly and discovering many thing about wireless energy transfer his lab burnt down in a fire forcing him to start his entire life’s work all over again.
  4. Tesla may have had Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour and Insomnia. Tesla claimed that he only needed two hours of sleep at night. It’s unclear that was because he wanted to or because he couldn’t actually sleep anymore than that. Tesla was also obsessed with the number 3 and used 18 napkins to clean his dining room before eating his evening meals. He also detested round objects, jewelry, shaking hands and touching hair.

The Bitter End:

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As you could tell by the last fact being such a genius and having a mind that was activated to such a high degree came with some consequences. His great mind became his downfall

. Tesla’s life story of rise to international prestige and fame was followed by an equally dramatic retreat into public shame, depression and loneliness. Denial of his failures starting with the Tesla Tower led to further failure and further denial, a downward spiral which eventually led Tesla to a mental breakdown.

By the latter part of his life, he was clinically insane.

Tesla hallucinated to such an extent that the boundaries between reality and his imagination became blur.

This caused him to work alone his lab tirelessly. He often stated that his lab was the only place where he was truly happy. As an example of his mental condition, here’s a quote from one of Nikola Tesla’s final interviews:

I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them for years, but there was one pigeon, a beautiful bird pure white with light grey tips on the wings. That one was different. No matter where I was that pigeon would find me. When I wanted her, I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. I loved that pigeon. I loved her as much as a man loved a woman and she loves me. Then one night as I was lying in my bed in the dark solving problems as usual, she flew through the open window and stood in my desk and knew she wanted to tell me something important so I got up and I went to her. As I looked at her, I knew she wanted to tell me she was dying and then as I got her message there came a light from her eyes, powerful beams of light.”

I don’t think there’s anything else to say there. Over his lifetime, Tesla has obtained over 100 patents and 700 inventions but despite all of this he was dirt poor. For many years he worked alone in his room at the hotel New Yorker where he died in 1943 living on a diet with milk and Nabisco crackers.

So a lot of you’d be asking how did Tesla end up so poor? It is true Tesla could’ve been the world’s first billionaire by a long-shot but he just didn’t care about the money. He is an example.

After the war of currents, Westinghouse was in trouble. They were almost bankrupt and about to go under. So Westinghouse pleaded to Tesla to temporarily cut back his royalties just so Westinghouse companies could get through this tough time and survive.

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