What Nikola Tesla never actually invented?

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Serbian engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous inventors. He made dozens of breakthroughs in the production, transmission and use of electrical energy, but his entire biography and inventions were overgrown with myths, legends and false facts. Therefore, in this article we will tell you which of what is attributed to him, in fact, the famous scientist never invented.

It should be said right away that we will not consider the full biography of the scientist, but we will understand the veracity of the most popular facts about Tesla and his “fantastic inventions”.

This is one of the most popular myths about Tesla and his feud with Edison. One friend of Nikola Tesla, John O’Neill, wrote that when Tesla was working for Thomas Edison’s firm, Edison suggested that the inventor improve the design of generators, promising $ 50,000 for this. Young Tesla, after a few months of hard work, completed the task and asked about payment, to which Edison only laughed and replied: «You do not understand American humor.» Then Tesla resigned from the Edison firm. The author of Tesla’s biography, Evgeny Matonin, writes that Edison simply could not seriously promise the workers such amounts, because it was just a huge amount at that time. And there is no other information about this story. Therefore, this story is most likely just a beautiful fairy tale.

After the First World War, rumors circulated in different countries about the invention of death rays, which can destroy military equipment and people at great distances. Tesla was also carried away by this idea and told reporters that he knew how to create something similar. He believed that such a weapon could end wars by rendering them meaningless. But in fact, there is no information about the successful tests or development of such weapons by Tesla.

According to this myth, in 1908 a meteorite did not fall into the Siberian taiga, but an explosion occurred when Nikola Tesla sent a large bunch of energy there from his Wardencliff tower on Long Island in New York. Tesla did build this tower for long-range wireless power transmission experiments, but they were all unsuccessful. Most astronomers believe that the Tunguska event was associated with an explosion in the Earth’s atmosphere of a comet. However, the hypothesis of Tesla’s own involvement in this event still regularly pops up in conspiracy articles. The most interesting thing is that the Vordencliff project was practically discontinued in 1906, and this was two years before the Tunguska phenomenon.

Everyone knows that Nikola Tesla created his own device, partially based on the principles of induction and called it the Tesla coil, but it turns out that this was not his idea. In fact, induction was discovered by the famous scientist Michael Faraday. As for the induction coil itself, this is the work of 1836 by the talented scientist Nicholas Callan. These works were ahead of Tesla’s birth by several decades, so they could not be the works of Tesla himself.

Tesla played a large role in the improvement and popularization of alternating current, but did not invent it. In fact, alternating current existed long before Tesla graduated from high school. The first alternator was developed by Hippolyte Pixius in 1832. By the 1870s, raw two-phase alternators were in use in Germany. Italian scientist Galileo Ferraris spoke openly about polyphase alternating current as early as 1885. Other scientists also worked on alternating current around the same time as Tesla. Tesla made a great contribution to the improvement of alternating current, but he was never its «discoverer».

Author: Alexey Nimchuk. Edited by Fedor Karasenko.

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