LEGACY: The Life of Nikola Tesla (Chapter 4, page 2 of 4)


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Chapter 4

It wasn't long after that time that his fever went down. He is reading the book written by Mark Twain and everyone knows he is on the road to recovery.

* * *

Now attending the Polytechnical School at Graz, Nikola is watching Professor Poeschl demonstrating a Gramme machine that can be used either as a dynamo or a motor. It operates on direct current.

"This Gramme machine turns by mechanical power; it will generate electricity, and if supplied with electricity, it can operate as a motor and produce mechanical power," as lectured by Professor Poeschl.

Nikola is greatly impressed with the demonstration. However, a great deal of sparking is taking place in the commutator. Wincing at the staccato snapping of the spark, "This is not good. It could be dangerous. Can anything be done with that annoying discharge?" asked Nikola.

Professor Poesche replies, "Nothing, we can reduce it, but we can't eliminate it".

Nikola mumbled, "Nonsense."

"It is direct current and we haven't found a way to avoid it. It seems to be inherent in the nature of the machine. It may be reduced to a great extent, but as long as we use commutators, it will always be present. As long as a magnet has two poles each of which acts oppositely at the current, we will have to use a commutator to change at the right moment the directions of the current in the rotating armature."

Nikola responds, "That is obvious. The machine is limited by the current used. I am suggesting that we get rid of the commutator entirely by using alternating current."

Nikola's ability at Mathematics is phenomenal. He knows the answers as quickly as the professor puts the problems on the board. He figures the answers out mentally and hardly ever writes the problem down.

Back at home he's meeting with his father.

"Niko, I hate to see you drop out of school."

"Father, I need to get some work experience. There's so much I can do in the classroom. I'm further advanced than my classmates," says Nikola.

"Where are you planning to go?"

"A lot is happening in Budapest. A telephone company is opening up and I'm sure I can learn much and contribute much."

"Well, you have my blessings and we have a little money saved that I can send along with you," says his father.

* * *

In Budapest he checks in at the Central Telephone Company office. A sign indicates they will open soon. He's ready to walk away when he notices a dear friend from school, Anital Szigrati. Nikola waves and catches his attention.

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