Tesla was inspired to create the alternating current motor by the Gramme dynamo. This invention had the ability to operate in different ways upon reversal. When rotating in a certain direction, it was a motor and when moving in the opposite manner, it was an electric generator. Therefore, Tesla realized that he could utilize a magnetic field to create an induction motor through reversed rotations. Prior to this invention, Alternating current (AC) could not be operated on by motors.
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Engineers were having a problem with this fact because although AC was advantageous to DC (owing to its ability to be transmitted over long distances and its ability to stand high voltage) it could not be translated to motors. So there was a need to come up with an effective way of doing so. This is what motivated Tesla to look for a solution to this problem as he was dealing with the issue (Nikola, 1919).
Scientist. The scientist involved in the discovery was called Nicola Tesla. He was an electrical engineering student at the Austrian Polytechnic. This was the point at which his interest in alternating current began because he focused on that project for a long time. As time went on, he defied his tutors and stopped attending lectures. He therefore quit the pursuance of his degree during his third year. At that time, he worked as an assistance engineer for a while at Marburg and then went on to study one term at a university in Prague.
His time at the Continental Edison Company is what adequately prepared him to undertake this journey. He was in a position to look at the inefficiencies of direct current motors and hence establish certain mechanisms for improving them through the use of AC.
Tesla was confident that the experiment would work because it was based on sound scientific principles. He had dealt with magnetic induction and was merely applying the same in his experiment. Furthermore, the induction motor’s workings were somewhat similar to other concepts like the Gramme dynamo.
Discovery. The experiment entailed rubber plates covered by tin foil. They were connected to transformers. The plates were placed about fifteen feet apart and between them were wireless lamps. The lamps were immediately lit once current was turned on. The experiment attracted a lot of awe in London. Essentially, the invention intended on rotating a motor that was caused to do by a rotating magnet which had also been propagated by the AC. With this particular invention, much like most of his other inventions, Tesla used picture thinking.
Here, he visualized the image of the invention that he was supposed to make. He pictured all the dimensions of the AC motor and worked out all the elements of construction in his head. He then thought through the process of testing the device and reworked it over and over in his mind. He drew an illustration roughly on sand. Eventually, when everything seemed just right, he instructed workmen to create the device on his behalf.
He was able to get exactly what he had anticipated. In fact, this was the norm for this particular individual thus explaining why he was often called a creative genius (Klein, 2009). The scientific community was astonished by the results of the discovery. Most of them felt that the AC motor was more efficient than the DC one so they endorsed.
Contribution. Tesla was one of the people who advocated for the distribution and the use of alternating current. In fact, after the invention of the AC motor, there was a long-standing battle between Thomas Edison who endorsed direct current and Nicola Tesla who endorsed alternating current. Tesla generated alternating current even in huge amounts and went ahead to illustrate that this kind of electricity was harmless. He let electricity flow through his body in order to give the accurate public information about it.
Not only was he responsible for the generation of AC, but he also contributed to the distribution of it. In this regard, Tesla contributed to greater efficiency in electricity distribution. The lamps that he used to demonstrate the principle were essential in affirming that AC was better because it yielded less heat. In distribution, high voltages can be transmitted easily through this discovery. Prior to the invention, AC was always known as a viable alternative.
However, it was quite difficult for this kind of electricity to be taken through long distances and it is the AC motor that allowed this to happen. Additionally, the AC motor has combated problems associated with DC which could not allow for the decrease and increase of electricity as it was being transmitted.
It is thanks to Tesla’s invention that hydroelectric power stations have been made more efficient. Long range distribution of power is now efficient owing to his invention. This was first seen through the Niagara Falls hydroelectric power project of 1890 (Lomus, 1999).
Current science. Current science has evolved from the time of the scientist – Tesla. This individual mostly focused on the basic elements needed in order to distribute or generate alternating current. Modifications continued to be made in hydroelectric projects around the world so as to keep improving the efficiency of transmission. Now there are better ways of applying the AC motor to the practical transmission of electricity and this has changed the results.
What if. If the discovery had not been made, then, businesses and homes would have to contend with very unreliable sources of electricity. A lot of energy would be lost if the DC system was utilized as it is not transmitted in a wave form. Currently, houses would possess lighting, but it would not be very efficient. Alternatively, they would have to contend with excessive amounts of heat within their premises without the AC motor.
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Lomas, R. (1999). Spark of genius. Independent magazine.
Nikola, T. (1919). My inventions. Electrical experimenter magazine.
Klein, M. (2009). The power makers: electricity, steam and the men who invented modern America. NY: Bloomsburg press.