Slideshow: The other things Tesla discovered, invented

November 05, 2016 // By Steve Taranovich
Steve Taranovich, editor of EE Times' Planet Analog website, presents a slideshow illustrating the less well-known work of the polymath Nikola Tesla.

Nikola Tesla is very well known for the development of the Tesla Coil concept (circa 1890), AC motor (circa 1883), Rotating magnetic field (circa 1882), Radio (circa 1897). But how about his not-so-well-known discoveries? The following are ten I have gathered from the NY Times archives and IEEE XPlore. The NY Times archives are an incredible source of full copies of the Times’ newspapers dating back to the late 19th century. I highly recommend a subscription to my readers, not only to the NY Times newspaper, but as a bonus you can get access to the archives as well.

The following slide-show images and discussion will be, no doubt, controversial. I fully expect many of my readers to refute some of these ideas. Please do give me your comments and share with our audience for a great discussion, but have your facts available to back up your commentary as most of my professional readers usually do.

Discovery of cosmic radiation. “Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy”, US-Patent 685,957, issued on November 05, 1901 to Nikola Tesla (mmage courtesy of Ref 1).

On February 6, 1932 Tesla commented to the editor of the NY Times that: "You have given considerable space to the subject of cosmic rays, which seems to have aroused general attention to an unusual degree. Inasmuch as I discovered this wonderful phenomenon and investigated it long before others began their researches your readers may perhaps be interested in my own findings."

Tesla’s original idea was published in a series of articles, published from 1896 to 1898, on Roentgen rays (eventually called X-rays) and radioactivity in The Electrical Review.

His experiments in 1896 were greatly advanced through his invention of a new form of vacuum tube that could handle Megavolts. Tesla claimed that a radioactive body is simply a target that is continuously bombarded by small "bullets" projected from all parts of the universe. He was able to solve this mystery in 1899 with mathematical and experimental proof that the Sun and other heavenly bodies in the universe emitted great rays of energy in tiny particles animated by velocities faster than the speed of light (That was Tesla's comment. I would have expected Einstein to disagree).

CERN has made some other comments on cosmic rays, but it looks like Tesla preceded CERN's attribution of the discovery to August 1912.

Tesla commented that these rays had tremendous penetrative power that enabled them to traverse thousands of miles of solid matter without losing speed. We now know that it is far more than that. He added that ahile passing through space filled with cosmic dust, they generate a secondary radiation of constant intensity that reaches the Earth. His vacuum tube experiments bore his theory out.

Tesla may not have been 100 percent correct in all of his hypotheses in this area, but his theory was pretty good for the late 19th century.

Reference 1: Nikola Telsa's radiations and the cosmic rays by Andre Waser, July 2000.

Next: Wireless electrical lighting