Nikola Tesla Believed Fossil Fuels Were “Barbarous”

“It is quite evident, though, that this squandering cannot go on indefinitely, for geological investigations prove our fuel stores to be limited. So great has been the drain on them of late years that the specter of exhaustion is looming up threateningly in the distance…”
– Nikola Tesla

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla believed that the thermo-dynamic process, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, was “wasteful and barbarous.” In particular he singled out coal; at the time in greater use than natural gas and oil, which were slightly less dirty but rapidly extending in use. Despite these warnings from Tesla, we would all grow to become dependent, some would even say addicted, to these fossil fuels as taxpayer subsidies and government investment in national infrastructure would help make them cheap and accessible. Renewables like wind and solar, of course, did not enjoy government subsidies at that time, and were thus severely disadvantaged.

The mining of coal was especially problematic, Tesla noted, because despite some modern improvement, it still involved significant “dangers to the unfortunates who are condemned to toil deep in the bowels of the earth.” While oil and natural gas were somewhat safer in this regard, (drilling to depth avoided sending people underground), these sources still presented the problem of being finite. Tesla understood that fossil-based resources would eventually run out. And before that would happen, we would reach some level at which the costs of extraction would exceed the revenues that could be earned, making it economically unfeasible.

To this reality we can add the costs that are not accurately captured. Many of these additional costs have been “externalized,” i.e., shifted from the companies that are extracting fossil fuels onto the greater shoulders of society. This includes costs of pollution, particulates and aerosols released to the air, frequent oil spills, catastrophic ecological damage from mountaintop mining, and the rising costs of fossil fuel-related public health and safety concerns. Now that we fully understand the cause of man-made climate change, the trillions of dollars in costs associated with global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels can be added to the total. Even if we ignore these societal costs, the fossil fuel industry receives tremendous levels of taxpayer subsidy in order to artificially create an “economically feasible” industry. If these externalized costs were factored into an honest free market, the lack of economic viability of the continued use of fossil fuels for energy would become as clear now as it was to Tesla.

Another cost often ignored is national security. The Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, and other hotbeds of discord all represent globally important sources of fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas. As one Tesla researcher noted in an apt analogy given Tesla’s interest in pigeons, “if you put all the bird food in one place the birds fight each other for it; if you spread it out for all to eat there is no fighting.” The limited and clustered sources of fossil fuel resources certainly suggest a similar result.

While others at the turn of the twentieth century were busy exploiting coal, iron, aluminum, and drilling for oil, Tesla was already recognizing the limits of those endeavors. Rather than consume resources that were both dirty and finite, Tesla believed we needed to think about conservation. “Whatever our resources of primary energy may be in the future,” Tesla wrote, “we must, to be rational, obtain it without consumption of any material.” He believed that natural, renewable, sources of energy could “eliminate the need of coal, oil, gas or any other of the common fuels.”

[The above is adapted from my e-book, Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time, available for immediate download on Amazon]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. He is also the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press).

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Hitting all the careers!

It seems I’ve done a little of everything, and now I’m hitting all the careers at once (except the building bug zappers one).

In my marine biology days I had heard about Mote Marine Lab but had never been there. I also got to see my 49th aquarium. Here is an Australian jellyfish that I didn’t see in Australia.

A tarpon like the ones I saw in Bermuda.

One of many gorgeous reef fish.

At Mote Marine Lab Aquarium.

I also got to see the Addison-Ford Estates and several of Edison’s movie projectors in honor of my book on Thomas Edison.

His botanical Lab where he looked for a domestic source of rubber in his 80s.

Very cool place.

Meanwhile, my Tesla book is back in Barnes and Noble stores with its 8th printing.

And my Lincoln book is coming out soon with a 2nd printing.

Lincoln always watches over me.

More shortly.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

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Ask Me Anything #AuthorsAMA Tuesday Night 8 pm

Ask Me Anything!Ask Me Anything at #AuthorsAMA!

Join me tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 pm for an Ask Me Anything Q&A. At that time you can ask questions and get answers on  Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, or Thomas Edison, the topics of my three biographies.

Need question ideas?

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant but eccentric scientist. Thomas Edison was a chief rival and talented inventor in his own right. Abraham Lincoln saved America. Each is fascinating in their own way, and I’ve written highly illustrated biographies on all of them.Ask Me Anything about all three. Was Tesla really a genius? Did Edison steal all the inventions he got credit for? How on Earth did an poorly educated country lawyer save America?

But you don’t have to wait until the 23rd – you can ask your questions now! Just sign up on the AMA site and jot down your questions. I’ll be able to see them and respond in depth. Then on January 23rd the answers will go live and I’ll respond to additional questions as they come up. You can also “up vote” questions from others to give them higher priority in the Q&A period. [Better yet – get your friends to join in and convince them to “up vote” your question.

So join the page now and leave a question. Then come back on Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 pm for a rapid pace Q&A. Remember, you can ask me anything about Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, or Thomas Edison.

Join the site here.

And if you missed me on C-SPAN, you can find the link here.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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#AMA #AuthorsAMA

Nikola Tesla Has Died – Nikola Tesla Lives On!

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla passed away 75 years ago, on January 7, 1943.

As I noted in Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity:

Tesla died in a lonely two-room suite—Room 3327 on the thirty-third floor, appropriately divisible by three—at the Hotel New Yorker in midtown Manhattan, not far from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. This was just a few months before the Supreme Court upheld his original patent and gave Tesla credit for invention of the radio. Unfortunately for Tesla, this was long after Marconi had received a Nobel Prize in 1909 on technological ideas “borrowed” from Tesla. While he had become a naturalized American citizen over a half-century earlier, Tesla’s cremated remains now rest in a spherical “Tesla ball”–shaped urn at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

I had the privilege of a private meeting with the Tesla museum director in Belgrade as they were reopening after a renovation in 2016. I’ve stayed in the room next to his at the New Yorker Hotel. I’ve watched Tesla come to off-Broadway.To be among the artifacts of the man is inspiring.

Tesla New Yorker

Tesla lives on in the 21st Century in the form of electric car companies, movies, computer simulations, videos, books, and television. His last laboratory, Wardenclyffe, is once again rising on Long Island to become a Tesla museum and science center (look for my brick!). More and more people are becoming aware of Tesla’s contributions to science and to modern America.

Nikola TeslaI’m happy to say that I’ve played a small role in bringing more recognition to the man. My book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, has just gone into its 8th printing, meaning the number of books in print approaches 100,000. It has also been translated into at least four foreign languages, with more on the horizon.

Because of my book and others, many who had never heard of Tesla, the man (or confused him with Tesla, the car company), have discovered the unique brilliance and personality of a man once held in the highest esteem but for too long forgotten.

Nikola Tesla died 75 years ago, but he lives on today. Share the knowledge.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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Join Me for My Ask Me Anything #AuthorsAMA

Ask Me Anything!Ask Me Anything at #AuthorsAMA!

Anything about Lincoln, Tesla, or Edison, that is, the topics of my three biographies.

On January 23rd at 8 pm I’ll be participating in an Ask Me Anything Q&A. At that time you can ask questions and get answers on any of my three books. Need question ideas?

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant but eccentric scientist. Thomas Edison was a chief rival and talented inventor in his own right. Abraham Lincoln saved America. Each is fascinating in their own way, and I’ve written highly illustrated biographies on all of them.Ask Me Anything about all three. Was Tesla really a genius? Did Edison steal all the inventions he got credit for? How on Earth did an poorly educated country lawyer save America?

But you don’t have to wait until the 23rd – you can ask your questions now! Just sign up on the AMA site and jot down your questions. I’ll be able to see them and respond in depth. Then on January 23rd the answers will go live and I’ll respond to additional questions as they come up. You can also “up vote” questions from others to give them higher priority in the Q&A period. [Better yet – get your friends to join in and convince them to “up vote” your question.

So join the page now and leave a question. Then come back on Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 pm for a rapid pace Q&A. Remember, you can ask me anything about Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, or Thomas Edison.

Join the site here.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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#AMA #AuthorsAMA

The Year in a Writer’s Life – 2017

David J Kent, WriterThe writing life has kept me busy this past year. In fact, 2017 rivaled 2016 in productivity, especially given I took two long overseas trips (South Korea/China and Australia/New Zealand). [Did you know there are no monkeys in Australia?] In any case, these and past travels may end up in books some day. While traveling, I took advantage of long flights and sporadic internet access to get in some serious writing.

Last year I mentioned that, in addition to my Edison book hitting stores, I was working on a new book. Well, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America came out in August and has been doing very well in Barnes and Noble stores nationwide. Reception from the public and other Lincoln scholars has been very positive and heartwarming, so I’ve been busy with book launch activities, including presentations at the DC Historical Society and the Lincoln Group of DC. [I’ve also just been voted onto the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Institute]

The writing continues. I have not one, but two, books in progress. One is an “accessible scholarly” book on Lincoln’s interest in technology; the other a travel memoir in the style of Bill Bryson, but with more science. And because that isn’t enough, in January I’ll be formally proposing a book in which members of the Lincoln Group of DC will contribute chapters. Stay tuned.

Book header new crop

My previous books are also doing well. My Edison book is now apparently sold out at Barnes and Noble so I’m expecting a new printing in early 2018 (as well as one for Lincoln). I’ve already seen a Dutch translation (and now German) of Edison and expect others shortly. Even better news – my Tesla book is now into its 8th printing! It too has a Dutch translation, as well as German, Spanish, and now Czech. There may be others, so if you see a translation not listed please post a picture on my Facebook author page.

But there’s more. I wrote hundreds of blog posts here on Science Traveler (my official author page) as well as Hot White Snow (creative writing) and The Dake Page (science communication). I was also asked by the Chesapeake and Potomac Regional Chapter of SETAC to contribute an article on science communication for their fall newsletter. And I continue to write two book reviews per issue for the Lincoln Group of DC’s quarterly, The Lincolnian.

Like all good writers, I read a lot. This year I have read 116 books, surpassing last year’s total of 106 (which surpassed the previous year’s 96). I confess that I may actually cut back slightly in 2018 as I’m anticipating a heavy travel and writing year. We’ll see.

My mantra for 2018 is to Write!, Write!, Write!

Which reminds me, I’m off to write.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Science Traveler

Image

Merry Christmas Happy Holidays

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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Nikola Tesla Takes on Einstein

Nikola Tesla portraitRotating magnetic fields, alternating current motors and transformers, the Tesla coil, wireless transmission of radio communication, wireless lighting…Nikola Tesla had no shortage of inventions that he could call his own. But these were not the only inventions in which he dabbled. Besides his wireless radio communication and alternating current systems, and like other great inventors from da Vinci to Edison, Tesla was intrigued by a great many other issues. One such issue to which he gave a great deal of thought was the relationship between matter and energy. Late in life he even claimed to have developed a new dynamic theory of gravity, though the details of his theory were never presented. One thing was clear, however, Tesla did not think Albert Einstein had gotten it right when he introduced his theories of relativity: “Tesla continuously attacked the validity of Einstein’s work,” his first biographer John O’Neill would write, “he ridiculed the belief that energy could be obtained from matter.”

Einstein, of course, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” While he is probably best known for his development of “the world’s most famous equation, E = mc2,” Einstein’s greatest contributions were in reconciling the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of electromagnetic fields. He believed that Newtonian mechanics did not adequately accomplish this reconciliation, which led to his special theory of relativity in 1905. Extending this concept to gravitational fields, Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1916. The following year he applied the general theory to model the structure of the universe as a whole.

To vastly oversimplify, general relativity provides for a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time. One key feature is that space-time is both curved and a function of the energy and momentum of matter and radiation. This is why light is bent around planets and other celestial bodies as it is influenced by their gravitational fields. It is also why time passes more slowly the closer the clock is to the source of gravitation (or conversely, why astronauts on a mission to points outside our solar system would return much younger than if they had remained on Earth).

Undeterred by the worldwide preeminence of such a man as Einstein, Tesla, at the ripe old age of eighty-two, wrote that he was fortunate enough to work out “two far reaching discoveries.” One was a dynamic theory of gravity, which he said “explains the causes of this force and the motions of heavenly bodies under its influence so satisfactorily that it will put an end to idle speculation and false conceptions, as that of curved space.” The “idle speculation” of curved space was, of course, one of the key features of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Tesla argued that Einstein’s theories were nothing more than “magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors.”

Tesla’s other far-reaching discovery was a physical truth that he felt could best be expressed by the statement:

“There is no energy in matter other than that received from the environment.”

He argued that no theory could

“explain the workings of the universe without recognizing the existence of the ether and the indispensable function it plays in the phenomena.”

The presence of the ether—the unseen medium between all the bodies of the universe—had already been contested by many scientists, including Einstein. Instead of the ether, Einstein inserted his own space-time construct that allowed space to curve around gravitational bodies. Tesla disagreed with Einstein, saying:

I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.

The question was not inconsequential—if the ether existed then the speed of light would not be constant, it would vary depending on the forces of the celestial bodies. Experiments carried out by Albert Michelson and William Morley in 1887 had already shown that the ether actually did not exist, notwithstanding Tesla’s insistence many decades after this to the contrary.

Still undeterred, Tesla believed that he had discovered what came to be known as “Tesla waves,” which would move faster than the speed of light. He argued that the propagation of currents from his magnifying transmitter—“a peculiar transformer specially adapted to excite the Earth”—would begin with “a theoretically infinite speed” and then later “proceeds [sic] with the speed of light.” But that would not be the end as “from there on it again increases in speed, slowly at first, and then more rapidly,” eventually passing through the Earth to a point diametrically opposed to it “with approximately infinite velocity.” Needless to say this was a direct contradiction to Einstein’s demonstration that the speed of light is a constant and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, at least in a vacuum.

Whether Tesla could have provided some additional insight to Einstein’s thinking on relativity if he had presented his views many years earlier, we will never know. In the end it was Einstein whose theories were written down, underwent scrutiny, and are generally accepted today.

[The above is an adaptation from my book Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity.]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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[Daily Post]

Updates on Tesla, Edison, Lincoln

It’s been a busy year for Tesla, Edison, and Lincoln. Based on the Barnes and Noble website, I’m expecting new printings for all three books. Plus, foreign translations!

The 8th printing of my Tesla book should be available any day now given the information I had received from the publisher. The book is sold out in my local store and temporarily unavailable on the B&N site as they get more books in the warehouse. Buyers at the local B&N tell me they still have brisk sales four years after the original publication. The situation is similar for my Edison book released in 2016, with the local store selling out and more books needed in the warehouse. And my newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is selling well according the manager of my local store. They’ve just restocked the shelves and a new printing is definitely due.

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In addition, Edison has joined Tesla in a Dutch language edition. The European publisher had previously done Dutch, German, and Spanish editions of Tesla so I expect to see the same for Edison. Tesla also is now in a Czech language edition. Hopefully the publisher will pick up the Lincoln book for translation some time next year.

Meanwhile, my recently released Lincoln book is doing well. I recently presented at the DC Historical Society conference in Washington, DC and I’m shortly heading up to Gettysburg for the annual Lincoln Forum. Then on December 12th I’ll present my book to the Lincoln Group of DC (click here to join us).

If that wasn’t enough, I am working on a new Lincoln book, and will be proposing a second Lincoln book in January. Stay tuned for more.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

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Big News for Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity

Nikola Tesla was an eccentric genius that was born just before the U.S. Civil War and died in the middle of World War II. Since its release, my book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, has been a big reason nearly 100,000 new people have learned about him. And now there is even bigger news.

Tesla, of course, is the reason for widespread use of alternating current – after beating out Thomas Edison’s direct current in the “War of the Currents” – and also pioneered development of the radio, remote controlled robotics, and a number of other major technologies. Today’s Tesla Motors was named in honor of the great inventor.

Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has been a great success. So much so that I just received word that it will be going to a record 8th printing this fall. In these days when most non-fiction books rarely even sell out their first printing, an 8th printing is hugely satisfying. Of course, even more satisfying will be a 9th, then a 10th, and eventually a 100th printing.

But there is even more good news. Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity is not only published in English, there have been Dutch, German, and Spanish translations. At least one more is now going to be added to the list – Czech! Yes, if you’re in Prague you will shortly be able to pick up a copy translated into your home language. And if you’re in Turkey, keep your eyes open because at least two publishers have been in touch with my American publisher to negotiate putting out a Turkish edition.

All this means that the word of Tesla is spreading. And you can help. If you live in a country you think would be interested in Tesla but haven’t had access, talk to your local bookstores. Ask them if they could stock the book. If enough bookstores get requests, they will get word to publishers who can arrange translated editions. How about you, Serbia? Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity is sure to be a hit in Serbian bookstores.

Bonus good news: My newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is in Barnes and Noble bookstores now. You can also find copies of my earlier book, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World, in which Nikola Tesla finally gets his due in an Edison biography.

So help spread the word of Tesla, Edison, and Lincoln. While you’re at it, check out my two e-books on Tesla and Lincoln. And as of this writing there are two more days for you to enter to win a free signed copy of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America on Goodreads.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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