The Lord Of Light; Nikola Tesla Chapter One

Nerds stay up all night dismantling the world so that they can put it back together with new features. They niggle and fix things that aren’t broken. Geeks abandon the world around them because they are busy soldering a new one. They obsess and, in many cases, they suffer.

Over a century ago, a Serbian-American inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla started cementing things that weren’t broken.

Everyone has a clue about Einstein or Edison is, but very few can say they even know Nikola Tesla, who is one of the scintillating scientists of all time. He is the most prolific and fecund inventor of the 20th century, with over 700 recognized international patents.

A name that is placed next to the most brilliant scientists like Ohm, Ampere, Einstein, Farada, but is his place justified or does he deserve to be on top of them all?

Once in a century a prodigy of Tesla’s magnitude is born who marshals in a new age of consciousness, imagination, and creativity. Sometimes humanity is ready for such genius. But, most of the  times it is incapable of engrossing the paradigm shift—the new ideas that appear to be out of synchronous with ingrained scientific truths. 

nikola tesla

You come home, turn on the switch and the light bulbs light up the hall. Such a general and humdrum gesture would not have been possible without the genius of a defrocked inventor: Nikola Tesla, a man whose history was forgotten. However, without it our lives would not be the same.

Born in 1856 in Smiljan, in what was the Austrian Empire, known today as Croatia. According to legend, he was born precisely at midnight during a thunderstorm regarding which his mother said

‘He would be a son of light’.

In 1862 Tesla’s family moved to Gospic, where Nikola attended the Real Gymnasium. He was in Hospice, when little Tesla told his father the following: “Someday I am going to America to accouter Niagara Falls to produce power.” Thirty years later he did exactly that!!

He first made his teachers flabbergasted when he was able to perform calculus in his head, at which point his teachers were convinced that he was somehow cheating until he proved that he could solve the calculus equations without doing them by hand. Nikola went on to continue his academics at the Graz Polytechnic School in Austria where he continued to amaze. His devotion and work mores appalled people, so much so that some feared for his sanity and well-being due to how hard he appeared to work. However, Tesla said that he didn’t feel like work to him. He said that it was as if his inventive thoughts came to him instinctively and his abilities in mathematics and engineering were in his nature. His matinee, burlesque and precision when solving problems and pinpointing concepts was so systematically and properly executed that it was considered robotic, leaves even his professors speechless.

He got his baccalaureate, completing his studies in electrical engineering at the Technical University of Graz. He studied philosophy later in Prague.

In 1881, Tesla agonized a nervous breakdown. Doctors could not comprehend all the strange manifestations of his illness. Tesla suffered from astute sensitivity of all of the sense organs. His biographer and friend, John J. O’Neill, writes – “To him, the ticking of a watch three rooms away sounded like the beat of hammers on an anvil. Ordinary speech sounded like thunderous pandemonium. The slender touch had the mental effect of a tremendous blow. A beam of sunlight shining on him produced the effect of an internal explosion.”

He had a sort of anxiety of germs and eschewed shaking hands at any cost. If someone caught him off guard and shook his hand, he would excuse himself, go to the bathroom and scrub his hands thoroughly.

He was called a “sun dodger” for working at night and having the curtains in his room drawn during the day. He did things in threes (like walking around a building three times before entering it) and loved numbers divisible by three. This list could also go on…

While working at the Continental Edison Company in Paris in 1882, he began his journey. He would install incandescent lighting systems based on Edison’s DC power system during the day and in his leisure time, he would experiment with AC motor designs. This went on for two years, until Tesla transferred to the Edison Machine Works in New York City with an introduction letter from Charles Bachelor to Thomas Edison: “I know two great men,” wrote Bachelor, “one is you and the other is this young man.” 

nikola tesla

“But I thought Thomas Edison was the father of the electric age”- Everyone.


When most people think of Edison, they think of the man who invented the light bulb.

 Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he improved upon the ideas of 11 other men who pioneered the light bulb before him.             

In 1882 he began working for the company of Thomas Alva Edison, his great rival, and the person who would eventually take all the merit deserved by Tesla, the inventor. At the age of just twenty five, he had mentally worked out the design of a new alternating-current system. Without the aid of drawings, he built a working model of his poly-phase system machine from memory at 27. No interest was shown in his alternating current theories from the executives of the Continental Edison Company.

The two were very different in their approach to work. While Edison used trial and error method for his inventions, while Tesla was a straight up freak, he did his work mentally and calculating every single detail in his brain and solving the problems before building his machines. Edison had a belief in Direct-current system while Tesla was an alternating current crackerjack.

Tesla worked for Edison for almost a year, tirelessly, every day, including Sundays. He solved the company’s most challenging problems and designed twenty-four types of dynamos. Edison had promised him the sum of $50.000 if he completed the motor and generator improvements. When Tesla successfully accomplished this goal and inquired about the $50.000, Edison reportedly replied: “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” Tesla resigned his position immediately.

Without job, broke and without contacts, Tesla was forced to work as a daily wager for over a year. “I lived through a year of terrible heartaches and bitter tears,” he later recalled. He did some electrical repair work and some ditch digging. Fortunately for him, a foreman, who was supervising a group of ditch diggers, was impressed by his ideas and introduced him to A.K.Brown of the Western Union Telegraph Company. 

Tesla Electric Company was financed by Mr Brown and his friends and they helped in establishing Tesla’s laboratories in two different locations in New York. This was the break Tesla needed.

Nikola Tesla

Ever heard of a guy by the name Marconi?

He won a Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the radio. Everything he did was based on work previously done by Tesla.

Ever heard of RADAR?

An English scientist by the name of Robert A Watson Watt was credited with the invention of radar in 1935.

Nikola Tesla came up with that idea 18 years ago, in 1917.He pitched it to the US Navy at the beginning of World War 1 when the world was getting its butthole forcibly imploded by German. Unfortunately, Edison was the head of R&D for the US Navy at the time and managed to convinced them it had no practical application in war.

Wilhelm Rontgen is usually credited as the discoverer of X-Rays. Can you guess the moustache-donning inventor who beat him to it and got no credit Nikola Freaking Tesla?

Ever thought who build the first hydroelectric plant at Niagra Falls and proved to the world this type of power was a practical energy source?

 Nikola Tesla.

Ever heard of ball lightning? It’s like a lightning that appears in the form of a sphere and travels slowly while hovering a few feet above the ground. It is an extremely rare phenomenon and even today no scientist has successfully produced it in a laboratory. Tesla did it in the 1890s.

As soon as his laboratory opened in 1887, Tesla commenced the development of different types of electrical machinery. The next year he matriculated the principles of his Tesla coil. A patent was applied by him covering his entire poly-phase system that included the motors, dynamos, transformers, and distribution systems.

nikola tesla

Nikola Tesla was brilliant.  And not just like a word, brilliant, either – I mean like, “holy crap”.

The dude spoke eight languages, the technology that pioneered the use of electricity in household use was almost single handed built by him and invented things like electrical generators, FM radio, remote control, robots, spark plugs, fluorescent lights, and big-ass machines that could shoot gigantic, brain-frying lightning bolts all over the place like crazy.  Tesla possessed obstinate cage trap photographic memory and a psychopathic ability to envisage even the most complex pieces of machinery – the guy did advanced calculus and physics equations in his goddamn head, memorized entire books at a time, and successfully carried out scientific experiments that modern-day technology still can’t replicate. For instance, a group of some geniuses at MIT,in 2007 got excited because they wirelessly transmitted energy a seven feet through the air. Nikola Tesla once lit 200 light bulbs from a power source 26 miles away, and he did it in 1899 with a machine he built from scratch in the middle of the goddamn desert (Although no proof but this has been claimed by eye witnesses). Till today, nobody can really understand how the fuck he pulled that shit off, because two-thirds of the schematics only existed in the darkest corners of Tesla’s all-magnificent brain.

Despite being ridiculously famous during his day, now Tesla remains more or less omitted among lists of the greatest inventors and scientists of the modern epoch.  All the glory goes to Edison for discovering the light bulb, but it was Nikola Tesla, once his assistant and his lifelong arch nemesis, made the quantum leap in alternating-current technology that let masses to cheaply use electricity to power appliances and lighting in their homes.  They perpetually clashed about the ‘War Of The Currents’ (their bitter blood feud resulted in both men being snubbed by the Nobel Prize committee), but Tesla was the one who delivered the fatal kick-to-the-crotch that ended the battle – at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, his AC generators dazzled the entire experience, denominating the first time that an event of that aura had ever taken place under the luminosity of artificial light. All homes and appliances today function on Tesla’s AC current.


The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine. — Nikola Tesla.

Author Profile

Vishal Koul
My father once told me that people listen to you if you tell them that your father told you that. A Caffeine-dependent life-form, professional procrastinator, and a total introvert. People call me ”Vishal”. But, you can call me tonight. A nomad in search for the perfect burger. Bacon enthusiast. Just a cupcake looking for a stud muffin.

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