LEGACY: The Life of Nikola Tesla (Chapter 8, page 1 of 2)


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Chapter 8

In 1889 Tesla is riding a horsedrawn carriage and passes the Eiffel Tower in Paris as it is being erected. He is there to make a major presentation to the scientific world.

Inside the Universal Exposition Building, the audience is riveted watching his spectacular display of electrical charges.

Tesla tells the audience, "There is no subject more captivating, more worthy of study than nature. To understand this mechanism, to discover the forces which are active, and the laws which govern them, is the highest aim of the intellect of man."

Every chair in the auditorium is occupied. Absolute silence prevails. Everyone is riveted on Tesla. "Nature has stored up in the universe infinite energy. To capture the unseen resources of nature around us, I will display the power of the unseen energy available to those who have discovered its mysteries."

Tesla turns on a few switches and sparks fly around him. He proceeds with confidence. The audience applauds wildly.

"The spark of an induction coil, the glow of an incandescent lamp. The manifestations of the mechanical forces of current and magnets are no longer beyond our grip." The audience is spellbound.

"Here is a simple glass tube from which the air has been partially exhausted. I take hold of it; I bring my body in contact with a wire conveying alternating currents of high potential, and the tube in my hand is brilliantly lit." He moves the tube.

"In whatever position I may put it, wherever I move in space, as far as I can reach, its soft pleasing light persists with undiminished brightness."

As the tube he holds begins to glow, he is demonstrating the safety of alternating current. The Edison agent rises and hurries from the hall. George Westinghouse in the front row leans forward and is all smiles. The audience applauds wildly. He continues by walking over to another object. "This is a motor that runs on only one wire, the return circuit occurring wirelessly in space. This knowledge will allow motors to run without any wires at all. There is energy in space, free for the taking."

In the 1890's Tesla's assistant, George Scherff is working with lead shields. In the laboratory, Tesla explains to George Scherff, "This equipment will photograph the insides of an object. It uses high-energy, radio frequencies. Come, let's try a few experiments."

Tesla washes his hands, then demonstrates x-ray techniques. "This is potentially very dangerous. Lead shields must be used. I understand Edison damaged his eyes from x-rays."

Scherff asks, "What is your input?"

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