in 18th & 19th century nonconformity


this blog is my notes and other scraps from and inspired by my current humanities adventure at UVU: Origins of the Avant-garde in 18th/19th century nonconformity taught by Alex Caldiero.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nikola Tesla

a side note (in thinking about the avant-garde in science)

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was an inventor and a mechanical and electrical engineer. He is frequently cited as one of the most important contributors to the birth of commercial electricity and is best known for his many revolutionary developments in the field of electromagnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tesla's patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, including the polyphase system of electrical distribution and the AC motor, with which he helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.

Aside from his work on electromagnetism and electromechanical engineering, Tesla contributed in varying degrees to the establishment of robotics, remote control, radar and computer science, and to the expansion of ballistics, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics. In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States credited him as being the inventor of the radio. A few of his achievements have been used, with some controversy, to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories, and early New Age occultism.

Born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, Vojna Krajina, in the territory of today's Croatia, he was a subject of the Austrian Empire by birth and later became an American citizen. After his demonstration of wireless communication through radio in 1894 and after being the victor in the "War of Currents", he was widely respected as one of the greatest electrical engineers who worked in America. Much of his early work pioneered modern electrical engineering and many of his discoveries were of groundbreaking importance. During this period, in the United States, Tesla's fame rivaled that of any other inventor or scientist in history or popular culture, but due to his eccentric personality and his seemingly unbelievable and sometimes bizarre claims about possible scientific and technological developments, Tesla was ultimately ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist. Tesla never put much focus on his finances. It is said he died impoverished, at the age of 86

A few non-scientific ideas of his that likely made him weird for his time:
In 1926, Tesla commented on the ills of the social subservience of women and the struggle of women toward gender equality, indicated that humanity's future would be run by "Queen Bees". He believed that women would become the dominant sex in the future.

In his later years Tesla became a vegetarian. In an article for Century Illustrated Magazine he wrote: "It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarous habit." Tesla argued that it is wrong to eat uneconomic meat when large numbers of people are starving; he also believed that plant food was "superior to [meat] in regard to both mechanical and mental performance". He also argued that animal slaughter was "wanton and cruel".

Known for:

Theoretical work
Rotating magnetic field
Space data transmission systems
Tesla principle
Weather and climate modification

Alternating current system
'Egg of Columbus' demo
Induction motor
Lightning protection system
Electro-mechanical oscillator
Tesla coil
Bifilar coil
Robotics and the electronic logic gate
Wireless technology
Radio astronomy
Teleforce particle beam weapon, a.k.a the 'death ray'
Tesla turbo-machinery

Terrestrial stationary waves

Anyway, COOL.

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Student at Utah Valley University studying Humanities, Philosophy, Sociology and Anthropology.