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What I took away from this course was gaining a new perspective on how to judge a person’s, or my own, writing. Before I took this class, I had not even been aware of what rhetoric was or what the general view on it had been as commonly thought of in the subject of politics. Trickery is the first thing that most people assume, that rhetoric is a politician’s way of making promises and fooling his audience into believing one thing when what he is really saying is something very different. I know now that rhetoric can indeed be a form of wording something in a tricky way just as many people believe that is what it is, but at the same time rhetorical strategies can also be used in a less devious light in order to improve the argument you are making in a paper or a speech. Rhetoric is not simply a mischievous way to go about making an argument, it can also increase the power and improve the meaning of whatever it is that you are trying to put out there for an audience.

Thinking about the format of an argument – the words used, the way in which points are arranged, etc – is easier now that I learned some of the strategies that are typically implemented as well as other things to commonly look out for. Knowing what you want to keep an eye out for enhances your ability when it comes to analyzing a text, not to simply figure out what exactly it was the author had written on the page, but what emotions they intended to bring forth in their audience and what sort of message they desired to get across to the audience. I think that having knowledge of these strategies allows me to approach a text or a speech in a different way than I used to so that now when I read something, I will think about what is there being presented more than I might have in the past.

In rhetoric, there are various appeals that can be used such as Ethos, which is the idea of appealing to the character of the people in the audience. Additionally, there is Pathos, which is appealing to the emotions or the imagination of the people in the audience, and finally Logos, appealing to reason. When reading an argument or listening to a speech, it is useful to be able to analyze what is being said while thinking about the various methods that can be used to appeal to a specific audience. Being able to do this sort of thing matters greatly because an ignorant audience is likely to be swayed easily by clever phrases and by having their emotions or character appealed to, yet if they were to know what to look out for, then they would be far less likely to make decisions based on gut feeling alone and rather be able to make educated decisions based on the message and on what they are able to infer the speaker actually intends.

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Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

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Chapter 0 – Introduction

The first thing I remember learning about Nikola Tesla that stuck with me for a long time was his invention the Tesla Coil. At the time, I didn’t exactly know what it was, but I knew that it had something to do with electricity. When I later found out that many people were not even aware of that much, let alone knowing the man’s name, I decided to do some research on the scientist to satisfy my curiosity regarding who he really was and why he wasn’t as famous as Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. What I remember discovering about Tesla even in just my initial findings was extraordinary. He was a brilliant scientist – though perhaps rather crazy as well – but how many scientists are any different?

Image

A Tesla Coil Christmas Tree

The reason why many don’t know of him had to do with him being outshined by Thomas Edison, a rival of Tesla’s but in no way his superior. Tesla was brighter and had thousands more revolutionary inventions than Edison, yet Edison is remembered for plenty while Tesla is not. Tesla was born in modern day Croatia and lived from 1856-1943, yet amazingly he thought of the concept of wireless power transmission and experimented with it long before scientists today ever even considered experimenting with the idea. Tesla was so ahead of his time with all of his crazy inventions that he has simply become a fascinating man to learn about.

Chapter 1 – Early Life

Even at a young age, a mere three years old, Tesla was already philosophizing about things that were far bigger than him. Simply observing static electricity around his cat was enough to pique his interest in the phenomenon for years to come. That wasn’t the only thing on the boy’s mind either, as he was a child prodigy, a genius from the start who had seemed to have inherited his gift of creativity and the ability to come up with unique inventions from his mother, Djuka. Tesla’s mind was so active that in school he was able to perform integral calculus entirely in his head, a feat that could be categorized as amazing, and was so much so that his teachers thought he was cheating when he did not show his work.

Nikola Tesla had many passions, but mainly his mind was set on mathematics and on what he could learn by delving into the various sciences. So, he set his mind on becoming an engineer, and in that way he would be able to satisfy his interests. Unfortunately for the young Tesla, his father was a priest and was opposed to the idea, wanting his son to follow in his footsteps and for him to become a priest as well. Obviously this hardly sat well with Tesla, who aspired to become a man of science not a man of faith. Coincidentally, as fate would have it, a seventeen year old Tesla managed to contract cholera and, while his fate seemed dire, he managed to get his father to promise him that if he survived, he would be allowed to attend the renowned Austrian Polytechnic School at Graz to study engineering. As fortune would have it, Tesla made a full recovery and his father had no choice but to see his promise through.

Chapter 2 – The Beginnings of an Inventor

While in attendance at the Polytechnic school, Nikola Tesla had the opportunity to study mechanical and electrical engineering. Even while he was a mere student, he was able to offer unique suggestions to his teachers about topics that were likely beyond many of the other students’ capacities to understand at their current level. It was during that time – when a physics teacher at the school demonstrated to the students a new Gramme Dynamo that used direct current in order to act as a motor and generator – that Tesla made the suggestion that perhaps the entire device could be designed in a different way and be capable of using alternating currents rather than direct. It probably came as a shock to him when the teacher’s response to his idea was not one of someone who had very much faith in what had been suggested, unfortunately, the physics teacher did not believe that it could be done. However, that only made the young Tesla challenge himself even more with figuring out a way to make it a reality over the next few years.

But Tesla was not completely consumed by his work just yet. He was twenty four years old and working for the Central Telephone Exchange in Budapest, while the other pieces of his time were devoted toward his love, science. Then it hit him, the answer he had been looking for finally presented itself to him out of the blue one day. Nikola Tesla described the memory as follows:

One afternoon, which is ever present in my recollection, I was enjoying a walk with my friend in the city park and reciting poetry. At that age I knew entire books by heart, word for word. One of these was Goethe’s Faust. The sun was just setting and reminded me of a glorious passage:

The glow retreats, done is the day of toil;
It yonder hastes, new fields of life exploring;
Ah, that no wing can lift me from the soil
Upon its track to follow, follow soaring!

As I uttered these inspiring words the idea came like a flash of lightning and in an instant the truth was revealed. I drew with a stick on the sand the diagram shown six years later in my address before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

Image

The diagram that Tesla was speaking of as depicted in his patent for the Alternating Motor

Chapter 3 – From Europe to America

Tesla was then hired by electric power companies in Strasbourg and Paris whose operations ran on DC power while he continued his work on his idea, AC power. Although he had the patent for an AC motor, the problem was managing a way to physically create it. He tried to get investors interested but, ultimately, he failed and being that he was out of luck without any money, he instead turned toward Thomas Edison, who at the time was regarded as the greatest known electrical engineer.

This was the reason behind Nikola Tesla’s relocation to America when he was twenty eight years old; arriving in New York City, his first thoughts had to do with his concept of the way civilization appeared, that civilization in America was behind Europe by at least a hundred years. And, as an immigrant and being understandably impoverished upon arrival, he wasn’t in much of a position to do any better than those he saw struggling on the streets. But poverty wasn’t the only thing making the streets of lower Manhattan dangerous in those days. With Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb being in high demand, and with such a large consumption of power as a result, Edison’s DC power station in lower Manhattan had to put out a lot of electricity. This was extremely dangerous for the citizens; exposed electrical wiring was everywhere, all along the streets. Curious children used to climb up the poles that held up the sagging wires and were killed by the dangerous electrical output. Even the electric trolley tracks were dangerous because of DC power, but it became such commonplace that residents grew used to dodging the shocks that such things shot off. 

Well, it happened that like any person who has the opportunity to meet his hero in person, Tesla was full of excitement when he finally came to meet Edison in the flesh. One of the first things he did was explain his concept for an AC motor to the renowned electrical engineer, hoping for an opinion, for praise, for someone to have some confidence in him that it could be done. Tesla received no such reassurance from Edison, the man did not want to help him; he saw Tesla as competition and wanted to hinder him. Edison had understanding of DC power and that was all that he wanted, he didn’t see any point in investing any time into AC power when he could simply stay on his own track, not even bothering to think about what was going through Tesla’s mind with this AC power.

 

 

Chapter 4 – The Trouble with Edison is…

Edison hired the younger scientist to work for him, knowing that the man with such an understanding of electricity might be able to improve upon Edison’s already existing DC generation plants. Perhaps he had simply hired Tesla as a joke, but for whatever reason, it was done and Tesla trusted his employer, his hero. Maybe Edison had not actually believed that Tesla would be able to do it, who knows aside from Edison if his employing Tesla had been but a cruel joke as he promised $50,000 to the young man provided that he could successfully improve the DC power plants.

It only took Tesla several months to complete the task that Edison had given him. In due time, he asked for the payment in return for all the work he had done to improve the DC power plants, but it was denied him. Tesla was told that he had been mistaken, that he had interpreted Edison’s meaning incorrectly because he was not an American; he was conned out of the money that he had rightly earned because Edison refused to stand by his promise. Edison claimed he had never promised such things, it had all been a ‘harmless’ joke. The last sentence that he spoke to Tesla before the latter removed himself from his employ was, “When you become a full-fledged American you will appreciate an American joke.”

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Chapter 5 – Moving on to the Arc Lamp

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From then until the end of history, Tesla and Edison became something of a pair of rivals, constantly competing between one another, the one always trying to one up the other. They both experimented with electricity and other inventions, but it was clear that aside from that they were vastly different people. Whenever Tesla worked on creating things, he would visualize the concepts solely in his mind, inspired by single moments his inventions remained in full detail entirely within his brain until he had perfected the idea through mere thought. Only then would he advance toward physically creating his inventions. Edison, on the other hand, was very different minded, as evinced by their sharply contrasting methods of going about their work. A famous quote by Edison is, “Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” Clearly, the two had very different mindsets considering Tesla’s drive was for inventing for the sake of creation without putting any thought into whether or not his inventions would sell, while Edison apparently did it solely for the money.

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After his struggles in being mistreated by Edison, Tesla was not entirely demoralized. A group of investors who were willing to fund his research approached him one day and ended up financing Tesla’s Electric Light Company. They asked him to develop an improved method for arc lighting, a job that he took on and successfully saw through with ease. The arc lamp that Tesla invented for them was unique, beautifully designed, efficient, and however amazing, its creation still did not bring any money in for the inventor. He was rewarded with no money as the investors received all the profit brought in by the arc lamp.

 

Chapter 6 – The Invention of the AC Motor, a Dream Come True

However, in a turn of tides Tesla’s dream was about to be realized when finally, someone, A.K Brown of the Western Union Company, spoke to him about how he was willing to invest in the development of Tesla’s AC motor. Now with the money required to build his invention, and with a laboratory to work in, it would come as no surprise that Tesla was able to develop in a short time the components that he required for the system of AC power generation and transmission that he’d had in mind for so long. This very system of delivering electricity is the same one that still has many uses in the world today. Unfortunately for Tesla, his work on the motor was done, but the process of incorporating that technology – and the rest of his inventions to come – into the world properly still needed to be figured out… 

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Tesla’s AC Motor

 

Chapter 7 – Other Works by Nikola Tesla

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Sources:

Alternating Motor Patent; image from: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/res/555190.html

Electric Arc Lamp Patent; images from: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/res/335786.html

Tesla Coil; image from: http://tesladownunder.com/Xmas.htm

AC Motor; image from: http://www.teslascience.org/pages/tesla.htm

Various other Inventions; images from: http://www.teslasociety.com/

All Information on Nikola Tesla’s Life; from: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/index.html , http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/story_youth.html

Thomas Edison quote; from: http://www.qotd.org/quotes/Thomas.Edison

 

tesla coil

A Tesla Coil Christmas Tree

The first thing I remember learning about Nikola Tesla that stuck with me for a long time was his invention the Tesla Coil. At the time, I didn’t exactly know what it was, but I knew that it had something to do with electricity. When I later found out that many people were not even aware of that much, let alone knowing the man’s name, I decided to do some research on the scientist to satisfy my curiosity regarding who he really was and why he wasn’t as famous as Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. What I remember discovering about Tesla even in just my initial findings was extraordinary. He was a brilliant scientist – though perhaps rather crazy as well – but how many scientists are any different?

The reason why many don’t know of him is because he was outshined by Thomas Edison, a rival of Tesla’s but in no way his superior. Tesla was brighter and had thousands more revolutionary inventions than Edison, yet Edison is remembered for plenty while Tesla is not. Tesla was born in modern day Croatia and lived from 1856-1943, yet he thought of the concept of wireless power transmission and experimented with it long before scientists today ever even considered experimenting with the idea. Tesla was so ahead of his time with all of his crazy inventions that he has simply become a fascinating man to learn about.

Even at a young age, a mere three years old, Tesla was already philosophizing about things that were far bigger than him. Simply observing static electricity around his cat was enough to pique his interest in the phenomenon for years to come. That wasn’t the only thing on the boy’s mind either, as he was a child prodigy, a genius from the start who had seemed to have inherited his gift of creativity and the ability to come up with unique inventions from his mother, Djuka. Tesla’s mind was so active that in school he was able to perform integral calculus entirely in his head, a feat that could be categorized as amazing, and was so much so that his teachers thought he was cheating when he did not show his work.

Nikola Tesla had many passions, but mainly his mind was set on mathematics and on what he could learn by delving into the various sciences. So, he set his mind on becoming an engineer, and in that way he would be able to satisfy his interests. Unfortunately for the young Tesla, his father was a priest and was opposed to the idea, wanting his son to follow in his footsteps and for him to become a priest as well. Obviously this hardly sat well with Tesla, who aspired to become a man of science not a man of faith. Coincidentally, as fate would have it, a seventeen year old Tesla managed to contract cholera and, while his fate seemed dire, he managed to get his father to promise him that if he survived, he would be allowed to attend the renowned Austrian Polytechnic School at Graz to study engineering. As fortune would have it, Tesla made a full recovery and his father had no choice but to see his promise through.

While in attendance at the Polytechnic school, Nikola Tesla had the opportunity to study mechanical and electrical engineering. Even while he was a mere student, he was able to offer unique suggestions to his teachers about topics that were likely beyond many of the other students’ capacities to understand at their current level. It was during that time, when a physics teacher at the school demonstrated to the students a new Gramme Dynamo that used direct current in order to act as a motor and generator, that Tesla made the suggestion that it the entire device could be designed in a different way and be capable of using alternating currents rather than direct. It probably came as a shock to him when the teacher’s response to his idea was not one of someone who had very much faith in what had been suggested, unfortunately, the physics teacher did not believe that it could be done. However, that only made the young Tesla challenge himself even more with figuring out a way to make it a reality over the next few years.

But Tesla was not completely consumed by his work just yet. He was twenty four years old and working for the Central Telephone Exchange in Budapest, while the other pieces of his time were devoted toward his love, science. Then it hit him, the answer he had been looking for finally presented itself to him out of the blue one day. Nikola Tesla described the memory as follows:

One afternoon, which is ever present in my recollection, I was enjoying a walk with my friend in the city park and reciting poetry. At that age I knew entire books by heart, word for word. One of these was Goethe’s Faust. The sun was just setting and reminded me of a glorious passage:

The glow retreats, done is the day of toil;
It yonder hastes, new fields of life exploring;
Ah, that no wing can lift me from the soil
Upon its track to follow, follow soaring!

As I uttered these inspiring words the idea came like a flash of lightning and in an instant the truth was revealed. I drew with a stick on the sand the diagram shown six years later in my address before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

ac motor

The diagram that Tesla was speaking of as depicted in his patent for the Alternating Motor

Tesla was then hired by electric power companies in Strasbourg and Paris whose operations ran on DC power while he continued his work on AC power. Although he had the patent for an AC motor, the problem was managing a way to physically create it. He tried to get investors interested but, ultimately, he failed and instead turned toward Thomas Edison, who at the time was regarded as the greatest known electrical engineer.

This was the reason behind Nikola Tesla’s relocation to America when he was twenty eight years old; arriving in New York City, his first thoughts had to do with his concept of the way civilization appeared, that civilization in America was behind Europe by at least a hundred years. And, as an immigrant and being understandably impoverished upon arrival, he wasn’t in much of a position to do any better than those he saw struggling on the streets. But poverty wasn’t the only thing making the streets of lower Manhattan dangerous in those days. With Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb being in high demand, and with such a large consumption of power as a result, Edison’s DC power station in lower Manhattan had to put out a lot of electricity. This was extremely dangerous for the citizens; exposed electrical wiring was everywhere, all along the streets. Curious children used to climb up the poles that held up the sagging wires and were killed by the dangerous electrical output. Even the electric trolley tracks were dangerous because of DC power, but it became such commonplace that residents grew used to dodging the shocks that such things shot off.

Well, it happened that like any person who has the opportunity to meet his hero in person, Tesla was full of excitement when he finally came to meet Edison in the flesh. One of the first things he did was explain his concept for an AC motor to the renowned electrical engineer, hoping for an opinion, for praise, for someone to have some confidence in him that it could be done. Tesla received no such reassurance from Edison, the man did not want to help him, he saw Tesla as competition and wanted to hinder him. Edison had understanding of DC power and that was all that he wanted, he didn’t see any point in investing any time into AC power when he could simply stay on his own track, not even bothering to think about what was going through Tesla’s mind with this AC power.

Yet Edison hired the younger scientist to work for him, knowing that the man with such an understanding of electricity might be able to improve upon Edison’s already existing DC generation plants. Perhaps he had simply hired Tesla as a joke, but for whatever reason, it was done and Tesla trusted his employer, his hero. Maybe Edison had not actually believed that Tesla would be able to do it, who knows aside from Edison if his employing Tesla had been but a cruel joke as he promised $50,000 to the young man provided that he could successfully improve the DC power plants.

It only took Tesla several months to complete the task that Edison had given him. In due time, he asked for the payment in return for all the work he had done to improve the DC power plants, but it was denied him. Tesla was told that he had been mistaken, that he had interpreted Edison’s meaning incorrectly because he was not an American; he was conned out of the money that he had rightly earned because Edison refused to stand by his promise. Edison claimed he had never promised such things, it had all been a ‘harmless’ joke. The last sentence that he spoke to Tesla before the latter removed himself from his employ was, “When you become a full-fledged American you will appreciate an American joke.”

tesla comic

From then until the end of history, Tesla and Edison became something of a pair of rivals, constantly competing between one another, the one always trying to one up the other. They both experimented with electricity and other inventions, but it was clear that aside from that they were vastly different people. Whenever Tesla worked on creating things, he would visualize the concepts solely in his mind, inspired by single moments his inventions remained in full detail entirely within his brain until he had perfected the idea through mere thought. Only then would he advance toward actually, physically creating his inventions. Edison, on the other hand, was very different minded, as evinced by their sharply different methods of going about their work.

After his struggles with being mistreated by Edison, Tesla was not entirely demoralized. A group of investors who were willing to fund his research approached him one day and ended up financing Tesla’s Electric Light Company. They asked him to develop an improved method for arc lighting, a job that he took on and successfully saw it through with ease. The arc lamp that Tesla invented for them was unique, beautifully designed, efficient, and however amazing, its creation still did not bring any money in for the inventor. He was rewarded with no money as the investors received all the profit brought in by the arc lamp.

However, in a turn of tides Tesla’s dream was about to be realized when finally, someone, A.K Brown of the Western Union Company, spoke to him about how he was willing to invest in the development of Tesla’s AC motor. Now with the money required to build his invention, and with a laboratory to work in, it would come as no surprise that Tesla was able to develop in a short time the components that he required for the system of AC power generation and transmission that he’d had in mind for so long. This very system of delivering electricity is the same one that still has many uses in the world today. Unfortunately for Tesla, his work on the motor was done, but the process of incorporating that technology – and the rest of his inventions to come – into the world properly still needed to be figured out…

Alternating Motor Patent; image from: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/res/555190.html

Tesla Coil; image from: http://tesladownunder.com/Xmas.htm

All Information on Nikola Tesla’s Life; from: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/index.html

Dr. Rodrigue/Advanced Writing, Fall 2012/Biography Peer Review

1. Genre regularities, as you know, function as guides to help writers compose. Identify at least two common characteristics of the genre of biography in your peers’ work. If these characteristics do not exist, tell the author.
1) Informative 2) Story-telling

2. As we discussed in class, many biography writers construct generic identities (the hero, the villain, the martyr) or tell stories with common themes (the coming of age story, the tragedy, the unexpected romance) or simply report the life events of a person. In an effort to avoid approaching the writing of a biography as a “fill-in-the-blank” endeavor, writer’s need to have a distinct purpose(s) geared to a particular audience. What is the writer’s purpose(s) in writing this biography? What goals do you think the writer is trying to achieve? What arguments is he/she trying to make? Describe them below. If you can’t determine a purpose(s), tell the author.
I believe the purpose here, the point/argument being made is that Tesla is far too overlooked. Not many know about him yet they should because of how brilliant he was and how many “new” technologies we enjoy today started with him.

3. In what ways do you see the writer taking his/her audience into consideration when trying to achieve his/her purpose? (For those who are composing Powerpoint presentations, the audience is the class. For those who are composing in any other medium, the audience description, as you know, is on a word document on the assignment page).
I think the way this is written is done so in a manner that is easily accessible to any variety of reader while also maintaining a level of intelligence so as to not insult. It’s also kept quite interesting in tone and the way the story is told.

4. Identify at least three rhetorical strategies the writer uses. Describe the extent to which these rhetorical strategies are effective in helping the writer achieve his/her purpose(s) to the intended audience.
1) Hints at/foreshadows Tesla’s immense intelligence right off the bat. 2) Shows his struggles (keeps him human). 3) Shows one of his inventions that many of us are familiar with but probably are unaware that it was him.

5. Describe the extent to which your peer’s chosen modes (alphabet, audio, visual) and medium(s) (video, photographs, pictures, alphabetic writing, etc) function rhetorically. Do you think the incorporation of other modes and mediums could help the writer strengthen the biography and further achieve his/her goals? If so, make a suggestion of how and where the writer might incorporate other modes and mediums.
I think for this particular person, not much more than the narrative and pictures can be done. That being said, I think the way it’s been written so far works really well to keep the reader engaged in the topic. Perhaps, though, it’d add a cool little extra touch if you could find a clip of some sort that shows the coil – his most famous invention – in operation.

6. Identify two strengths of the paper, and explain why you think these are strengths.
One strength is definitely having the memory and picture of his work. It lets us in his mind a little and gives a strong example for the fact that he IS overlooked and shouldn’t be. A second strength would be how you set the stage for the beginning.

7. Identify two parts that need to strengthened, and make a suggestion as to how the writer might do so.

8. Make some general suggestions that may help your peer strengthen the draft (perhaps you think they need to conduct more research, incorporate a particular point of view, cut something out, etc).

Spend the last 10 minutes of class talking with your peer about your responses and anything else that will help him/her strengthen his paper.

The first thing I remember learning about Nikola Tesla that stuck with me for a long time was his invention the Tesla Coil. At the time, I didn’t exactly know what it was, but I knew that it had something to do with electricity. When I later found out that many people were not even aware of that much, let alone knowing the man’s name, I decided to do some research on the scientist to satisfy my curiosity regarding who he really was and why he wasn’t as famous as Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. What I remember discovering about Tesla even in just my initial findings was extraordinary. He was a brilliant scientist – though perhaps rather crazy as well – but how many scientists are any different?

The reason why many don’t know of him is because he was outshined by Thomas Edison, a rival of Tesla’s but in no way his superior. Tesla was brighter and had thousands more revolutionary inventions than Edison, yet Edison is remembered for plenty while Tesla is not. Tesla was born in modern day Croatia and lived from 1856-1943, yet he thought of the concept of wireless power transmission and experimented with it long before scientists today ever even considered experimenting with the idea. Tesla was so ahead of his time with all of his crazy inventions that he has simply become a fascinating man to learn about.

Even at a young age, a mere three years old, Tesla was already philosophizing about things that were far bigger than him. Simply observing static electricity around his cat was enough to pique his interest in the phenomenon for years to come. That wasn’t the only thing on the boy’s mind either, as he was a child prodigy, a genius from the start who had seemed to have inherited his gift of creativity and the ability to come up with unique inventions from his mother, Djuka. Tesla’s mind was so active that in school he was able to perform integral calculus entirely in his head, a feat that could be categorized as amazing, and was so much so that his teachers thought he was cheating when he did not show his work.

Nikola Tesla had many passions, but mainly his mind was set on mathematics and on what he could learn by delving into the various sciences. So, he set his mind on becoming an engineer, and in that way he would be able to satisfy his interests. Unfortunately for the young Tesla, his father was a priest and was opposed to the idea, wanting his son to follow in his footsteps and for him to become a priest as well. Obviously this hardly sat well with Tesla, who aspired to become a man of science not a man of faith. Coincidentally, as fate would have it, a seventeen year old Tesla managed to contract cholera and, while his fate seemed dire, he managed to get his father to promise him that if he survived, he would be allowed to attend the renowned Austrian Polytechnic School at Graz to study engineering. As good fortune would have it, Tesla made a full recovery and his father had no choice but to see his promise through.

While in attendance at the Polytechnic school, Nikola Tesla had the opportunity to study mechanical and electrical engineering. Even while he was a mere student, he was able to offer unique suggestions to his teachers about topics that were likely beyond many of the other students’ capacities to understand at their current level. It was during that time, when a physics teacher at the school demonstrated to the students a new Gramme Dynamo that used direct current in order to act as a motor and generator, that Tesla made the suggestion that it the entire device could be designed in a different way and be capable of using alternating currents rather than direct. It probably came as a shock to him when the teacher’s response to his idea was not one of someone who had very much faith in what had been suggested, unfortunately, the physics teacher did not believe that it could be done. However, that only made the young Tesla challenge himself even more with figuring out a way to make it a reality over the next few years.

But Tesla was not completely consumed by his work just yet. He was twenty four years old and working for the Central Telephone Exchange in Budapest, while the other pieces of his time were devoted toward his love, science. Then it hit him, the answer he had been looking for finally presented itself to him out of the blue one day. Nikola Tesla described the memory as follows:

 

One afternoon, which is ever present in my recollection, I was enjoying a walk with my friend in the city park and reciting poetry. At that age I knew entire books by heart, word for word. One of these was Goethe’s Faust. The sun was just setting and reminded me of a glorious passage:

The glow retreats, done is the day of toil;
It yonder hastes, new fields of life exploring;
Ah, that no wing can lift me from the soil
Upon its track to follow, follow soaring!

As I uttered these inspiring words the idea came like a flash of lightning and in an instant the truth was revealed. I drew with a stick on the sand the diagram shown six years later in my address before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

patent #555,190Image from: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/res/555190.html

Information from: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/index.html

I changed this, http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/ll_whoradio.html, into a narration from “Tesla’s point of view”.

 ———–

When asked who it was who invented the radio, most answer that it was Marconi. That man, however talented, was yet not the first inventor to hold a patent on the radio. And although the priority of the Tesla patent was restored over the Marconi patent by the court in 1943 for their own purposes, the fact of the matter is that many are unaware of my part in the development of the radio. I had been months, perhaps weeks, away from transmitting a signal from my lab to a location fifty miles away when a building fire destroyed my lab and my work. I filed my patent for the radio in 1897 and it was granted to me in 1900. While in England, a man named Marconi was attempting the same thing, using seventeen of my patents in an attempt to transmit radio signals across the English Channel. He tried and failed to get a patent on the radio three years after I had filed mine, but his attempts were blocked because at the time my patent had priority and I was still trying to gain back what data and research I had lost when my lab burned down. Marconi managed in 1901 to transmit and receive signals across the Atlantic Ocean, but I was not concerned at the time. In 1904, however, the U.S Patent office granted Marconi a patent for the invention of the radio; the suspected err here due to financial backing for Marconi in the United States. To this day, Marconi is the one who most believe to be behind the radio’s invention, while it was not him, but I, Nikola Tesla.

 

 ——————

In comparison to the original, I think that the ‘narration’ gets you to relate more to Tesla’s troubles and it becomes easier to understand the issues that he had to face when it came to his work on the radio.

 

 

The first thing I remember learning about Nikola Tesla was about his invention the Tesla Coil. I didn’t exactly know what it was, but I knew that it had something to do with electricity. When I found out that many people were not even aware of that much, let alone knowing the man’s name, I decided to do some research on the scientist to satisfy my curiosity regarding who he really was and why he wasn’t as famous as Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. What I remember discovering about Tesla even in just my initial findings was extraordinary. He was a brilliant scientist, though perhaps rather crazy as well, but how many scientists are any different? The reason why many don’t know of him is because he was outshined by Thomas Edison, a rival of Tesla’s but in no way his superior. Tesla was brighter and had thousands more revolutionary inventions than Edison, yet Edison is remembered for plenty while Tesla is not. Tesla lived from 1856-1943, yet he thought of the concept of wireless power transmission and experimented with it long before scientists today ever even considered experimenting with the idea. Tesla was so ahead of his time with all of his crazy inventions that I just found him to be fascinating.

1. many don’t know of him is because he was outshined by Thomas Edison
2. Tesla was brighter and had thousands more revolutionary inventions than Edison
3. lived from 1856-1943
4. he thought of the concept of wireless power transmission and experimented with it long before scientists today
5. Tesla was so ahead of his time with all of his crazy inventions > perhaps rather crazy as well

Freewrite: Though all of these points hold great significance 3, 4, and 5 all can be pointed together. I guess the main point is that he isn’t so well remembered because people probably thought he was crazy. Maybe he was but I think what led to this was, as you mentioned, he was experimenting with things way beyond his time and thought to be impossible. The time he lived in, “1856-1943,” had just barely heard of and started to use electricity let alone even fathom the ideas he had already been trying to create. I think this would be a really interesting angle.
I think you’re interested because, like you said, not a lot of people really know about this man, yet he was – I’m assuming – the father of our “new” technology, the cell phones, ipods, etc. that we carry around with us every day.

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I noticed that Tesla was being modest in describing his interest in the topic the book is on and in thanking others for their results that he claims no credit for whatsoever. It was obvious that he was curious, in awe of the science he was speaking of, fascinated by the experiments, and that he found the whole process to be a joy to do. It was clear that he was excited when it came to what he was writing about. At times, he uses visuals, pictures of the pieces of equipment that are used in the experiments he details. Tesla also includes images of various laboratories. From the book, it is clear that he thoroughly enjoys and understands the scientific topic that he is speaking about; alternate currents of high potential and high frequency.

The way that Paul’s chapters are done in comic form make his chapters of the memoirs more involving than Judy’s manage to accomplish. In the comics, the icons of the story are more abstract which allows for easier involvement between the reader and the story. In Paul’s chapter where he and his friend were switching around the signs at school, for example, I found that it was extremely easy to relate to. In particular, I enjoyed the panels where it jumped from showing him and his friend as normal kids into showing the two of them wearing trench coats as if they were from a Bond film. I found that the transformation of the kids depicted their imaginations taking them into a different world and causing their acts of ‘vandalism’ to actually seem rather innocent because they were only playing a game. I was able to relate to the idea of pretending to be someone else in that way. Additionally, when they find themselves in trouble once they are caught messing with the exit sign, their trench coats vanish, indicative of the kids being broken out of their fantasy.

When icons are more abstract, they serve as a way to get the readers involved in what’s on the page. The readers are more easily capable of associating with the abstract images that they are viewing, thus making them more susceptible to the story unfolding before them. When icons are less abstract, readers are communicated to in a fashion where they are supposed to view such images as objects more than before. Even drawings of people become objectified when drawn with more details than the abstract main characters.

 

Until I read McCloud’s discussion about the function of cartoons, I had not thought about how an abstract drawing of a person is far easier to see yourself in than a more detailed image. The role of images, when they are as abstract as a circle with dots and lines inside them, is important to help the audience to fill those shoes of the center of focus. And he’s right, the difference between using an image to describe something and using words to describe that same thing is so huge that it almost seems absurd that a comic artist can sit down and merge those two ways of storytelling into one style in order to depict a story. 

In “The Ride Together”, the brother and sister authors of their memoirs have an interesting style that combines a written narrative with a comic-style narrative, each chapter switching between one of the other. Using narrative and comics together in order to tell a story is a method of storytelling that I found to be rather unique. I had never before witnessed a combination such as this one in a book, as most tend to go either one way or the other, not both. Their style made the story more interesting and easier to delve into, as going from chapter to chapter grants a certain new refreshing feeling throughout the book due to the way the storytelling method switches back and forth.

 

In Judy’s narrative chapters, her strategy is to tell the story from her point of view. She bases her chapters on her memories, they are completely anecdotal. While reflecting on the past, she also seems to incorporate some of her more present day knowledge into her writing, allowing her to make sense of certain things that she may not have understood at the time in the past when her narrative is taking place. These rhetorical strategies help her to convey her story in an interesting light that should take the reader back in time to the moment where her tale is being told. Her first-person narrative helps to make it clear that the story is from no one’s point of view but her own, and puts the reader into her shoes in an attempt to get the reader involved in her memories.