On Tuesday April 30 we visited the Nicola Tesla Museum in Belgrade. Since the founding of Tesla Motors in Silicon Valley USA in 2003 and its production of the first fully electric sportscar the Tesla Roadster, the story of the man for which it is named the engineering genius and inventor Nicola Tesla has become more well known around the world. A Serbian born in 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia at a time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Nikola Tesla studied in Graz, Austria and Prague before working in 1881-82 in Budapest at the Central Telegraph Office. During his time spent in Budapest working on improving the voice amplifier for telephone receivers he conceived of an idea of a rotating magnetic field. The Edison Continental Company offered him a job in Paris and then in Strasbourg where he worked on a prototype induction motor before travelling to the USA to work for Edison. In 1885 he founded “Tesla Arc & Light Co.” and left Edsion to begin producing electric motors and generators. His invention of generators of high-frequency alternate currents and high-voltage coreless transformer are known today including the “Tesla Coil” but his amazing story has many more inventions and experiments to be rediscovered by fans of Tesla.
The Tesla Museum collection includes original artifacts from his earliest inventions and demonstrations during the tour that bring his scientific discoveries alive for young and old alike. A favorite moment was when our guide handed out florescent light tubes to hold by hand and then turned on the high-frequency oscillator making each tube light up in every surprised hand like a Star Wars light sabre. See http://www.tesla-museum.org/
The Tesla Museum exhibits his originals and models of motors and inventions and it tells how he developed an understanding of “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers” that he presented as a paper in 1899 at the the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. While Thomas Edison had developed a direct current technology a competitor named George Westinghouse realized that Tesla’s technology held great promise for America and licensed Tesla’s patented AC Induction motor and transformer and hired Tesla to develop a power system using alternating current. Today we see high voltage transmission lines all over the world that deliver power across long distances using alternating current. There are many other exhibits at the Tesla Museum that make it one of Belgrade’s most interesting tourist attractions. Admission is about 50 Dinars which means tickest for two can be paid for with a Tesla bill because Serbian currency has a portrait of Tesla on the 100 Dinar bill.
We walked from the Tesla Museum a few block to Tašmajdan Park where a friend recommended Cafe Madera and we enjoyed our rest there before going to Green Market to shop for vegetables for dinner. As I walked in Tašmajdan Park I was reminded of the 1999 NATO bombing of Belgrade that damaged the Serbian Broadcasting Corp. killing 16 people and with the sight of St. Marks Church rising behind the park I found the Children’s Monument, a heart-like shaped memorial inscribed with, “We were just children” in English and Serbian. The alternating currents of historical achievement and tragedy between the time of Tesla and our time found in the footsteps of our morning tour of Belgrade.