Tesla, Edison & Electricity

Tesla, Edison & their war over AC & DC Electricity

Asking the right questions leads to innovation and creation. It would be hard to imagine humanity without our ability to question. But just how important really is the disposition to ask questions? Is there not a way in which we could innovate and create without this artform?

In the 19th century, there were two great scientists, who were often at odds with one another. Thomas Edison, the famous inventor of the lightbulb, and Nikola Tesla, the Serbian born genius whose work laid the foundation for radio wave technology and even wireless charging.

Both men had a great affinity for using electricity and they became well-known for their feud around AC (Alternating Current) or DC (Direct Current) with Edison favoring the latter. The difference between AC and DC lies in the method by which electricity is transmitted. The war of the currents saw both inventors go to great length to prove to the public, the validity of their answer to the question: which current is better?

In answer to this question, a slew of technologies sprung forth, making our modern life possible. The lighting in your house, AC powered, the vacuum you use to clean up your children's crumbs, it runs on DC power.

When people ask themselves questions new things can be created, and things that are not good can also be avoided. It is true that the high-voltage AC power transmission is not as safe as DC power, but only in certain circumstances.

However, because of the ease of generating AC power at the source, such as through hydro-electrical systems like dams or wind turbines, AC power makes far more economic sense. In fact, most households across the world are supplied directly with AC power, and your device such as a phone charger or the plug to a vacuum converts it to DC power.

The point is this: both AC and DC have important roles when it comes to the transmission of power. However, it is unlikely that the two options would have been explored in such detail and in such a short amount of time, had two people not remained curious. Without curiosity, electricity may have taken many more decades to be efficiently used to the extent and in the manner in which we use it today.