Biography of Steinmetz

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865 - 1923)

 Karl August Rudolph Steinmetz was born to a Jewish family in Breslau, Germany. (Today, Breslau is in Poland and is called Wroclaw).  In his later years, he called himself Charles Proteus. Proteus was the mythical sea god among the ancient Greeks. 

 Steinmetz, like his father and grandfather, was deformed at birth. He was a dwarf and had a hunchback and hip dysplasia (deformity of the hip), like his male ancestors. 

 As a high school student, Karl astonished his teachers because of his exceptional mathematical ability. In 1883, Steinmetz enrolled in the University of Breslau to study physics and mathematics. On completing his undergraduate degree he enrolled in the doctoral program, but could not finish because the Prussia police sought to arrest him for having become active in the Socialist club at the university. Like so many German Jews at that time, Steinmetz had little to do with Judaism but was greatly influenced by socialism. In fact, many of the socialist writers and leaders at that time were former Jews like Karl Marx (1818-1883).

 Since socialism was outlawed in Prussia, Steinmetz fled to the United States after first spending a year in Switzerland. Here he went to work for Rudolf Eickemeyer, who owned an engineering firm in Yonkers, N.Y. Almost at once he published in the field of magnetic hysteresis (the lag of an effect behind its cause).

 Because Eickemeyer developed transformers and other electrical devices, the Eickemeyer firm was bought by General Electric, which had just been formed. This made Steinmetz an employee of General Electric. In that capacity Steinmetz lectured and published on the mathematics of alternating currents. This was new. It had not been done before. Steinmetz enabled engineers to develop motors based on mathematics, so that they could now create on paper the best possible motor instead of using trial and error.

 When General Electric moved to Schenectady, N.Y. in 1894, Steinmetz was appointed head of the mathematics department. This allowed him to solve any problems encountered by engineers and to work on his own projects. One of these was the creation of artificial lightning in his laboratory. His lab was the size of a football field and the lighting towers had 120,000 volt generators (volts are named for the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta).

 Steinmetz remained single all his life. He lived with a family of friends and devoted himself to the study of electricity. In the course of his life he held over 200 patents, including the inductor dynamo. Twelve biographies of Steinmetz are now in print and his name is included in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. 

 There can be little doubt that Steinmetz created the dominance of General Electric in its field and that he was a Jew of major proportions, although he was less than five feet tall.

Shalom uívracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Fraud (2007).

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