Friday, February 11, 2011

The War of Currents- The story of great battle battle between Alternating Current and Direct Current

This is a tale i am dying to share...................
Today is the birthday of Thomas Elva Edison, the great man  who discovered the commercially viable incandescent electric bulb, the phonograph( the gramophone) and the moving picture camera. He was the first man to employ the model of a modern R&D enterprise, having a huge pool of talented technicians working in close co-ordination to revolutionize the world, which they eventually did. One of the most marvelous things i find about him is that the man never got any formal education, and founded one of the pillars of the modern industry, General Electric.
This remarkable man had an equally remarkable assistant, Nikolas Tesla( This is the same man after whom the unit of the magnetic filed Tesla). Working at a small pay was this genius, called Tesla,who would later go on to make a great name and inspire stories of passion, science and mystery for generations to come. This man working as assistant of Edison was asked by Edison to improve upon the design of a DC generators.Tesla claimed that Edison promised him $50,000 if he succeeded in making improvements to his DC generation plants. Several months later, when Tesla had finished the work and asked to be paid, he said that Edison replied, "When you become a full-fledged American you will appreciate an American joke." Tesla immediately resigned. And this was the beginning of a great  rivalry between the two geniuses and the battle which which decided the way of the future.
Tesla was a pioneer of the Alternating Current. Developer of current systems that promised to revolutionize much of the world. The technology was mainly based on the Alternating Current. He was backed by George Westinghouse, the American enterprenur   who pioneered the railway air brakes.
This development opened a new front in the battle of the giants, as Thomas Edison favored the Direct Current. The AC had obvious advantages. It could be stepped up and transferred over long distances upon thinner wires and transported over long distances. It could then be stepped down and distributed to the customers.
When the limitations of the DC were discussed in the open by the public, Edison launched a propaganda campaign to promote the use of the Direct Current. At it's best the DC could be economically transported to distances of not more than 1.5 miles from the generating station.  It was suitable only for central business districts.  When George Westinghouse suggested using high-voltage AC instead, as it could carry electricity hundreds of miles with marginal loss of power, Edison waged a "War of Currents" to prevent AC from being adopted.
Strange consequences ensued. Thomas Edison was against the capital punishment. But his war against the AC led him to promote the development and use of the Electric Chair( using AC) in attempt to portray AC as having greater lethal potential than DC. Edison carried out a brief campaign to ban the use of the AC or to limit it's potential portraying it as dangerous. In a disgusting move, but which was able to garner some public opinion against the DC, the agents of Edison publicly electrocuted the animals in order to show the dangerous potential of the Alternating Current. The Alternating Currents are slightly more dangerous in that the frequencies near the 60Hz  have a greater capacity of causing cardiac fibrillation that the direct current.  In 1903, Edison's workers electrocuted Topsy the Elephant at Luna Park, near Coney Island, after she had killed several men and her owners wanted her put to death. His company filmed the electrocution.
AC replaced DC in most instances of generation and power distribution, enormously extending the range and improving the efficiency of power distribution. Though widespread use of DC ultimately lost favor for distribution, it exists today primarily in long-distance High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission systems. Low voltage DC distribution continued to be used in high-density downtown areas for many years but was eventually replaced by AC low-voltage network distribution in many of them. DC had the advantage that large battery banks could maintain continuous power through brief interruptions of the electric supply from generators and the transmission system. Now-a-days, the Direct Current is used in most the subways around the world.
A fight ultimately won by Tesla, the rightful assistant, and the genius one........................Will you not like to have such a friend?

No comments:

Post a Comment