Nikola Tesla’s Change to the World


Stephen began his research on Thomas Edison and how he changed the world. Stephen began researching currents and soon found sources comparing direct and alternating current. He changed his focus from Edison to Nikola Tesla because of the significant difference that Tesla influenced through his current.

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Stephen will write a research paper on the importance of Nikola Tesla and Tesla’s production of alternating current. Stephen will use various sources on Tesla’s journey through struggles and eventually to fame, as well as sources with the science behind both alternating and direct current. Discussed in the paper is Thomas Edison and the effect he had on Nikola, and Nikola’s choice in eventually working against Edison. In the paper Stephen shows the significance of Tesla’s work and how it is more influential today than Edison’s.

Electricity is all around this modern world. Using power has become apart of everyday life. Often, energy and power is taken for granted. Electricity in houses has to start somewhere, and the beginning is not in the holes in the walls. In the late 1800’s two inventors were racing to light the world with electricity. Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were the two competitors with two seperate ideas. Nikola Tesla was more influential through his induction motor that produced alternating current than Thomas Edison’s direct current even though Thomas Edison gets more recognition. Nikola Tesla won the race because AC is able to carry electricity further, it is less expensive to distribute, and without it, the world of electricity would be very different from what it is now.

Nikola Tesla attended school in Austria and Czechoslovakia where he studied electrical engineering (Boman, 2001). Nikola had been interested in electricity from a young age. Tesla came to America seeking to grow his production of AC after finishing school. He began working with Thomas Edison and the Edison company, but Tesla soon found out that he would not be able to pursue AC under Thomas Edison. Edison was too deep-rooted in his DC. Nikola Tesla left the company and began work on his own. Soon, he was running out of money and needed help. He was able to impress investor George Westinghouse with his knowledge of electricity at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (Goldman, 1997). Westinghouse funded Tesla as he continued researching and developing AC generators. Thomas Edison had the head start because his plants were already lighting cities, but Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse knew they had the superior idea. Edison and Tesla soon became rivals in the race to light the world. Tesla finally pulled ahead of Edison when Westinghouse won the bid against Edison in lighting the Chicago’s World Fair of 1983 (Bailey, 2010).

Many Americans know Thomas Edison, and they know of his invention: the light bulb. Few people, however, understand the significance of Nikola Tesla and his contribution to the science of electricity. Tesla’s induction motor that produced alternating current was even more beneficial than Edison’s system. Why, then, do Americans tend to praise Thomas Edison more? “”Edison had the name recognition”” (The Electric War, 2018). It is because he was a part of their society. He was an American who believed in more practical ideas and facts while Nikola Tesla, on the other hand, was a foreigner that came with an innovative mind (Bailey, 2010). During the late 1800’s the United States was growing in technological advances, and US citizens were becoming more and more proud of their country. The economy was booming and Americans were wanting to see other Americans succeed. The only problem with this is that Thomas Edison did not succeed this time when it came to power transmission.

The most significant difference between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) is the efficiency of creating and distributing the electricity. “”DC [is] less efficient to transport over long distances since line losses [are] significant compared to the DC voltage levels that [can] be generated”” (Parks, 2018). When a current is passed through a wire, the wire heats up, and some of the energy will be lost as heat (Line loss). Direct current is fairly easy to create, but the further it travels the more energy will be lost. Tesla’s alternating current required more complex and expensive machinery, but the electricity was able to be sent over longer distances without as many line losses.

Furthermore, Thomas Edison’s DC would end up costing much more than Nikola Tesla’s alternating current generators. Direct current seemed more practical to Thomas Edison, but that would require many more electrical plants that would need to be closer together. Nikola’s energy plants could be fewer in number because of the distance the electricity could travel. Also, “”AC required only one-third of the costly copper required for DC wires”” (Bailey, 2010). At a local level Thomas Edison’s idea may have been the best, but when it comes to distributing that electricity over hundreds of miles, Nikola Tesla’s induction motor was, and is, the most cost efficient and most resourceful in energy lost.

Finally, in a world that relies on electricity, what would the difference be if we did not have alternating current? It is hard to know, but with alternating current “”electricity became both cheap and plentiful for the first time in history”” (Lee, 2017). So, with Thomas Edison’s direct current electricity would be sparse, and only the wealthy could afford lighting their houses. Alternating current is also the source from which power outlets receive their electricity. Business buildings and houses are all connected to alternating current power plants that transfer the electricity across hundreds of miles of wire. There would need to be a different way to get energy to the microwave, the vacuum, and the refrigerator.

In conclusion, Nikola Tesla’s impact is larger than most realize. Americans know about Thomas Edison, but the true leader in the “”War of Currents”” (Parks, 2018) was Nikola Tesla. He changed the future in a way that no one anticipated. Electricity is everywhere, and it has become a major part of humanity. Nikola Tesla’s life has been more impactful than Thomas Edison’s because of Tesla’s development of alternating current. He has improved society because of the currents efficiency, its ability to travel far distances, and its availability in the walls we live in.

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