In the world of scientific rivalries, Edison became disgustingly rich, stole enough inventions to remake the modern world and help define the twentieth century, and probably did more to show people being a scientist can make you more rich than anybody else, creating a rush to the sciences and a wave of innovation. Nikola Tesla may have died broke, but he’s got much more awesome pictures like the one on the right (find us a picture of Edison that makes him look like a superhero instead of a grumpy old guy), he was portrayed by David “The Sovereign” Bowie in a movie directed by Christopher Nolan, he’s got a car company named after him, and now it looks like he’s going to help save the world, again, with a wind turbine he patented back in 1913, that not only doesn’t have blades, but is just as cheap as burned compressed dinosaurs.
The turbine patent was found by Howard Fuller, who refined it for his company Solar Aero. The basic idea is that a stack of discs are piled around a driveshaft, separated by spacers arranged to catch the air. As air flows in between the discs, it pushes on the spacers, getting the discs to spin, and also spins the driveshaft. Not only are these bad boys space efficient and not likely to chop up birds, they’re also dirt cheap; two thirds the cost of current turbines, with total operating costs of twelve cents a kilowatt over the life of the device. Even better, the generator can be at ground level, there are fewer maintenance costs, the poles you need to mount it on are shorter…basically, Tesla is just awesome.
[ via PhysOrg ]