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 invention that produced alternating current was more beneficial than Edison’s system. Why, then, do Americans tend to praise Thomas Edison more?
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 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.
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The most significant difference between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) is the efficiency of creating and distributing the electricity. “”DC was less efficient to transport over long distances since line losses were significant compared to the DC voltage levels that could 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 machinery, but the electricity was able to be sent over longer distances without as many line losses. Direct current seemed more practical to Thomas Edison, but that would require many more electrical plants that would need to be closer, and it would end up costing much more than Nikola Tesla’s alternating current generators. 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, then Nikola Tesla’s AC generators are the most cost efficient and most powerful.
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