7. Tesla vs. Edison: AC/DC's Greatest Hits
In 1856 a boy was born in Croatia who became both a genius and an enigma during a time of great scientific, technological and social change. His name was Nicola Tesla and his passion was electricity and electromagnetism. The rivalry between Tesla and native born genius Thomas Edison at the turn of the 20th century became the stuff of scientific legend.
Tesla worked as an assistant to Edison when he first came to America. He designed a DC (direct current) system for Edison, who then refused to pay him the bonuses he’d promised. So Tesla struck out on his own to develop AC (alternating current) transmission. By 1915 the New York Times reported that the Nobel Prize in Physics was to be jointly shared by Tesla and Edison, though so strong was their personal animosity toward each other that both refused to accept it if the other was named. The prize went instead to two other researchers for work on X-ray crystallography. Six months after Tesla died penniless in 1943 the US Supreme Court invalidated 1909 Nobel winner Marconi’s most important patent for radio transmission and recognized Tesla as the inventor.
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This is silly. To call Socrates an "academic" and paint him as some kind of atheist is to misleadingly overlay our own culture on his. To put Edison v. Tesla on par with the Reformation is also rather misleading. It's the St. John's College list of intellectual dust-ups, too: dead, white, European/American men. Maybe civil rights had intellectual components, too? Revolutions French and Russian? Just maybe.