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Philately and Science: Nikola Tesla on Stamps

Author: Emil Drkusic
Date: 19/01/2020

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, Austrian Empire, and died on January 7, 1943, in New York, United States. Without a doubt, he was one of the greatest minds in the history of Mankind.  

Early Years and Education

Nikola was born in Smiljan (a village 7 kilometers northwest of Gospić, a town in Lika county – today’s Croatia) as the fourth of five children (sisters Mika, Angelina and Marica and brother Dane) in the family of Milutin and Đuka. While his father Milutin was an Eastern Orthodox priest, his mother Đuka never received a formal education. Still, she was a remarkable woman with an eidetic memory. That enabled her to remember Serbian epic poems and she also had a talent for making mechanical crafts.

“I'm equally proud of my Serbian origin and my Croatian homeland.”

PTT (Post Telegraph Telephone, Yugoslavia). All Rights Reserved.

Yugoslavia, 1993/04/01

Denomination: 40000 Dinars

Nikola was educated in German because Lika was a part of an Austrian frontier. He completed primary school in Smiljan and Gospić, and later middle school in Karlovac. During his middle school education, he met with electricity. His physics professor used it in experiments of classes and that probably directed his whole life (just remember that when you’re teaching, maybe you have some new Nikola sitting in classes). In 1875 he started his studies at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria. He was a remarkable student until he started gambling and never finished his studies.

Most Important Achievements

AC / DCWhile Edison work and research was based on the DC (direct current), Tesla was focused on AC (alternate current). He proved that AC is less costly and safer and the result of his work is today everywhere around us. On the other hand, Edison electrocuted animals using AC to prove how dangerous it is, so Edison gave us an electric chair ?

Remote Control - In 1898, at the Electrical Exhibition, in New York's Madison Square Garden, Tesla used radio-waves to navigate a 4-foot-long miniature ship remotely. He controlled propeller, rudder, and scaled-down running lights. Needless to say, it looked like magic these days.

PTT (Post Telegraph Telephone, Yugoslavia). All Rights Reserved.

FDC - The 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

Yugoslavia, 1956/07/10

Denomination: 10 (induction motor), 15 (Tesla coil), 30 (telecommand) and 50 (Nikola Tesla) Dinars

Tesla’s AC Induction Motor is sometimes placed into the category of the 10 greatest discoveries of all times. If you ask yourself “why”, just look around yourself. These days, we can also look at car engines also.

"Electrical science has disclosed to us the more intimate relation existing between widely different forces and phenomena and has thus led us to a more complete comprehension of Nature and its many manifestations to our senses."

The radio – Usually Guglielmo Marconi is credited as the inventor of the radio and that really was the case until 1943 when the Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s patent as it was proven Tesla invented radio a few years earlier. Marconi initially got the patent because, probably, he had stronger financial backers at that time.

Македонска Пошта (Macedonia Post). All Rights Reserved.

The 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla

Macedonia, 2006/06/28

Denomination: 24 Macedonian Dinars

Some other (claimed) inventions Tesla is related to are: the Death Ray, robotics, X-rays, wireless energy transfer, limitless free energy, and many others. And of course, all his work on the Wardenclyffe Tower. Some of them were concepts, some lost during the time. We’ll probably never know if some of them truly ever existed, were they hidden in archives for being too powerful or simply just in the way of the current economic system.

India, Serbia jointly release commemorative stamps on Nikola Tesla & Swami Vivekananda

Hobbies, Activities, Hotel Rooms and Sex Life

Although you’ll find that Nikola had no hobbies, he actually loved gambling and playing cards, especially during his studies and playing billiards later.

"The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea."

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Republic of Srpska Post. All Rights Reserved.

The 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla

Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2006/07/10

Denomination: 1.50 BAM

His sex life was also one of these irrelevant things people usually asked about him – was he gay or not. If he was gay, it’s hard he would even go out with that statement. Still, there is a greater chance he was completely asexual because he simply didn’t have any time for relationships. This was his answer to the question about marriage:

“For an artist, yes; for a musician, yes; for a writer, yes; but for an inventor, no. The first three must gain inspiration from a woman's influence and be led by their love to finer achievement, but an inventor has so intense a nature with so much in it of wild, passionate quality, that in giving himself to a woman he might love, he would give everything, and so take everything from his chosen field. . . . It's a pity, too, for sometimes we feel so lonely.”

“I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.”

Hrvatska pošta (Croatia Post). All Rights Reserved.

The 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla

Croatia, 2006/07/10

Denomination: 3.50 HRK

He spent a lot of the time in hotel rooms with Room 3327 in the Hotel New Yorker being the most famous one. He spent 10 years there (actually in rooms number 3327 and 3328), from 1933 to 1943 and he actually died in Room 3327. That was also the place where his scientific papers (including the Death Ray) were kept in a safe. Papers disappeared after his death, never to be found again.

"If we want to reduce poverty and misery, if we want to give to every deserving individual what is needed for a safe existence of an intelligent being, we want to provide more machinery, more power. Power is our mainstay, the primary source of our many-sided energies."

Few More Quotes from Nikola Tesla

Let’s conclude today’s article with few quotes from Nikola:

"The history of science shows that theories are perishable. With every new truth that is revealed, we get a better understanding of Nature and our conceptions and views are modified."

"Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to an infinite distance."

"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."

"In a time not distant, it will be possible to flash any image formed in thought on a screen and render it visible at any place desired. The perfection of this means of reading thought will create a revolution for the better in all our social relations."

"The feeling is constantly growing on me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another."

"We wind a simple ring of iron with coils; we establish the connections to the generator, and with wonder and delight we note the effects of strange forces which we bring into play, which allow us to transform, to transmit and direct energy at will."

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