Devon Thorsby’s recent article (Speaker pushes for electric cars in the United States, 03/05/2009), stated that Michael Granoff of Better Place described using electricity “in a way the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison never could have envisioned.” Well, Franklin and Edison might not have imagined electric vehicles, but one man — almost forgotten by history — did: Nikola Tesla.
We owe to him our alternating current system and many other things that help run our modern world. In a time when resources were treated as limitless, Tesla pondered the future of humanity in relation to the planet’s finite resources and realized the dangers of overconsumption. He was a strong advocate of hydroelectricity because of its renewability and even imagined utilizing the power of “cosmic” energy from space.
Just after the turn of the last century, Tesla conceived of a world run by free, wireless electricity, which would power not only ships at sea but also electric automobiles. He is memorialized in two statues at Niagara Falls, having helped George Westinghouse harness Niagara Falls’ enormous energy in 1896. Speaking of his fellow scientists, Tesla said, “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.”
A bust of the inventor was placed in the atrium at the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building in the early 1990s. Consider stopping by to say thank you.