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Edison vs. Tesla: The Battle of the Energy Inventors

November 21, 2013 - 2:36pm


Our panel of experts answers your questions about two of the greatest energy inventors, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

Editor's Note: Thanks to everyone who participated in our lively discussion about Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla! Our panel of experts answered your questions on everything from alternating vs. direct current and how we are wirelessly transmitting energy today to Tesla's heroes and whether Edison was a great geek or a great CEO. If you missed the Hangout (or even want to relive the live discussion), you can watch a recording of it above.

More than engineers, scientists, businessmen and rivals, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were two of the greatest energy inventors of all time. Some of their most significant contributions -- from the battery and power plants to alternating current and the electric motor -- came to light more than a century ago, and yet, they are still influencing how we use energy in our everyday lives.

That’s why we’re dedicating the entire week on to Edison and Tesla, exploring their lives, some of their inventions and how their breakthroughs are the basis for today’s clean energy technologies. As part of Edison vs. Tesla week, we are also hosting a Google+ Hangout to answer your questions about these two storied inventors.

Join us on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 12:30 p.m. ET for a live discussion on Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. The event will be streamed on and the Energy Department’s Google+ page. Whether you want to know more about how we’re realizing Tesla’s idea of wireless transmission of energy today or who really invented the light bulb or what the war of the currents was, now is your chance to ask the experts.

The event will be moderated by Peter Gardett, founding editor of Breaking Energy. Gardett has spent more than a decade covering all areas of the energy industry and along the way, has picked up a thing or two on Edison and Tesla. Joining the discussion will be:

  • Dr. Rob Ivester, Deputy Director of the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office. A mechanical engineer by trade, Ivester is a bit of an Edison and Tesla history buff and can answer questions about how we are still using their ideas today in manufacturing and scientific fields.
  • Dr. Stephen Frank, Commercial Buildings Engineer at the Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). An expert in electric power distribution systems, Frank can answer questions about the difference between AC and DC power, the efficiency of power generation and the war of the currents.
  • Dr. Bernie Carlson, Professor of science, technology, and society at the University of Virginia. Author of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, Professor Carlson can talk about the rivalry between the two inventors and how their innovations are still being used today.

You can submit your questions on Edison and Tesla in advance and during the Hangout by emailing, posting in the comments on the Energy Department's Facebook page or Google+ event, or tweeting @ENERGY or @BreakingEnergy using #EdisonvsTesla. Be sure to tune in to get the low down on Edison and Tesla.