John Allnutt’s article on Tesla

Tesla: a third hero for my third age

As a teenager and young man (my first age) my two heroes were Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. I devoted those early years to the study of mathematics and physics. In 1980 I was awarded a Ph.D for my thesis on solutions of Einstein’s equations of General Relativity.  Following that I spent 3 happy years working at an astronomical observatory in Australia.  I was interested in pure science and had little regard for the applied sciences, perhaps that is why I was unaware of  Nikola Tesla and his amazing gifts to, and visions for, mankind.

In 1984 I entered my long second age.  My first priority was to find a loving partner and, after 10 fruitless years, I finally found one, with a little help from Albert Einstein.  While studying at London University I had made friends with a fellow Relativity student from Mexico.  I visited him in Mexico City on a number of occasions and on one such occasion he introduced me to Myriam, the lady who was to become my wife and bring much happiness into my life.

Finding and building a career was my second priority.  I had always been interested in computer programming from my teenage years when I wrote programs that had to be punched onto paper tape and for 15 minutes per week I had remote access to a mainframe computer on which I could run my code.  Little did I think, at that time, that I would work with mainframe computers for more than 30 years.

The third priority of my second age was building a home, my childhood passion for making things returned to me and I spent much time making furniture for our house and on various home improvement projects.  In the little free time I had I would read books about famous physicists and mathematicians, but Tesla was not one of them.

In the summer of 2015, while visiting my sister in Toulouse, my wife met Milica Mitrovic.  She was Serbian, tall, good looking, always elegantly dressed, highly intelligent, multi-lingual and passionate in her belief that education, science and cultural exchange could bring about a better and more peaceful world for all mankind. Later I was to learn that she shared all of these characteristics with her hero Nikola Tesla.  She talked to me about Tesla and inspired me not only to read and learn more about him but to actually start thinking again.

During the first years of the 21st century we are seeing the rapid global growth of mobile technology, in particular smart phones and tablet computers which connect wirelessly to the internet and other mobile devices.   Applications like WhatsApp enable friend and families to keep in regular instant wireless contact even though they may be on different sides of the planet.   Tesla envisioned all this more than a century ago. However providing power to these mobile devices can be a nightmare. Different devices have different chargers and wired connectors, even those from the same manufacturer. Connectors to the mains electricity supply differ from region to region, as do voltages. So when travelling abroad one must take a bag full of connectors, adaptors, transformers  and a spaghetti-like mass of wires along with you just to supply power to your mobile devices.   Also, of course, one constantly has to be aware of how much power each of your devices has left and remember to recharge them before they run out.  IT DID NOT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS!

One of Tesla’s greatest unfulfilled dreams was the wireless transmission of energy.  His plans to provide everyone on the planet with unlimited free electrical energy were hindered and thwarted by the J P Morgan and other entrepreneurs such as Westinghouse who sought to protect the profits they were making for Tesla’s earlier idea of using alternating currents to supply homes and businesses with electricity.

In the 1880s a ‘Battle of Currents’ took place between  the Direct Current system pioneered by Thomas Edison and the Alternating Current system pioneered by Tesla. The problem with the DC system was that energy could only be transmitted over short distances, so, to supply New York City generating stations were needed every mile, whereas the AC system could transmit power over much longer distances. Tesla & Westinghouse built the world’s first hydro-electric power plant which used the waters of the Niagara Falls to generate AC electricity to supply New York City. It opened in 1897 and it is incredible to think that New York City’s first power supply was generated from a sustainable source.

Tesla believed there was a much better way to transmit electrical energy. Following numerous spectacular experiments in his Colorado laboratory, in 1901 he commenced work on building an incredible structure on Long Island New York called the Wardenclyffe Tower.  In addition to using the tower for transmitting and receiving radio messages, the bigger idea was to use the Earth and the Ionosphere to enable anyone anywhere on the planet to wirelessly draw down the electrical energy they needed, in much the same way as anyone, with the correct transmitting and receiving equipment can  do with radio information.

Just imagine how wonderful it would be if all our mobile devices could wirelessly draw down the power they need, whenever they needed it. Then our technology truly would be mobile!

The Wardenclyffe Tower project was funded by J P Morgan, possibly in an attempt to deter other financiers from backing Tesla. He did not give it his full support and the project came to nothing through lack of funding, and public interest turned from Tesla to Marconi. Tesla’s tower was dismantled in 1917 following which he suffered a mental breakdown from which he never fully recovered.

Incidentally many people around the world believe it was Marconi who invented radio but, in 1943, some months after Tesla’s death the US Supreme Court ruled that all of Marconi’s radio patents were invalid and that Nikola Tesla invented radio.

The name Tesla is becoming better known to the general public but that is not due to greater awareness of Nikola Tesla’s genius, it is due to the success of the innovative Californian luxury electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors.   This company is owned by Elon Musk, a driven genius with ambitious and altruistic goals for mankind.  In his twenties Musk made a fortune from 2 internet application he owned and sold during the dot com boom.  One of those applications was PayPal and its sale to Ebay netted him $1.5 billion.  He invested this money in two  futuristic companies based in California, SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

From boyhood Musk was interested rockets and SpaceX builds rockets. Musk’s dream is to develop and build rockets to take men to Mars. Sadly, and short-sightedly, the US government lost interest in their countries space program and now it is up Russia, China and a few other countries or  private enterprise to sustain mankind’s dream of leaving planet Earth.     In 2008, after struggling through much adversity, SpaceX became the first privately owned company to launch a payload into orbit.   Musk’s dream for Tesla Motors is equally grand, it would see an end to vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine which guzzles non-sustainable fossil fuels.  Instead all vehicles would use battery powered electric induction motors which could be recharged, at no cost to their owners, from a global network of sustainable, solar powered, charging points. The induction motor was an invention of Nikola Tesla and was patented by him in 1888, so it is most appropriate that this innovative car manufacture pays homage to the great Nikola Tesla in its name.

My third age will soon be upon me and I am looking forward to having time to read, to write, to think and to make things.  More importantly I want to start sharing my knowledge, experience and creative skills with a new generation as, for far too long, I have kept so many things to myself.  During this period of my life I hope to see real progress in the wireless distribution of energy, SpaceX rockets reaching Mars and computer controlled electric cars taking over from environmentally damaging petrol or diesel ones.

I realize now that the amazingly ambitious pioneering work of Nikola Tesla improved the daily lives of everyone on the planet and provided mankind with far greater practical benefits that all the works of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.  That is why I have made him the hero of my third age.  Yet his name is hardly known in most countries of the world. It seems that UNESCO completely agrees with this and is making efforts to get him global recognition he so rightly deserves.   I hope I too can play a small part in correcting this injustice by telling people about the amazing life and works of Nikola Tesla.

  John Allnutt B.Sc Ph.D

Tesla’s unique place in the history of invention

We are very privileged to publish the article written by Professor Robert Curl, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, who generously contributed to our book “The Essential Nikola Tesla: Peacebuilding Endeavor” :

I am interested in the behavior of molecules in a magnetic field and the units I use for the field are T. Thus receiving the Tesla Award is a particular pleasure for me because I am reminded constantly in my scientific research of Nikola Tesla. Among inventors Nikola Tesla occupies a unique position that I cannot imagine will ever be taken away from him . Let me explain. In science, every discovery is timeless. Once a new fact about Nature has been uncovered, it can never be discovered again. As a scientist, I like that. On the other hand, a new technology, no matter how radically new, usually is superseded by an even better technology. The phonograph has been replaced by digital music. Silver salt photography has been replaced by digital photography. Fluorescents have largely replaced incandescent lights (a development that Tesla foreshadowed). And fluorescents are being replaced by LEDs. Vacuum tubes are almost completely replaced by solid state devices.

Aleksandar Protic with Nobel laureate Robert Curl

Almost by its very nature, invention is transient. Improved technologies replace older technologies. Tesla’s unique place in the history of invention is that I cannot imagine that his AC motors will ever be replaced. They are irreplaceable today more than one hundred twenty years after Nikola Tesla invented them. Likewise three phase AC power is not likely to be superceded. The other long-lived invention made around the turn of the twentieth century, the airplane, has been altered by its development to an extent that the modern jetliner would almost be unrecognizable to the Wright brothers. But the AC motor of today has scarcely been changed from Tesla’s designs. Nikola Tesla was the inventive giant essential to development of the uses of electrical power. He envisioned the importance of what might be, the electric motor. He combined his vision with deep insight into the properties of electricity and magnetism to make the AC motor real. And of almost equal importance to the invention process, with great charm and personal magnetism, he excited those in profession and the general public about the value of his inventions. When people had been getting along as things were for millennia, it takes great effort to convince them that their lives will be greatly improved by choosing the new. Today we still enjoy the fruits of his labors. I do not minimize Tesla’s many other inventions. The exact number of his patents worldwide appears to be unknown, but his known patents are well over two hundred. Here I emphasize his AC motor as the invention of greatest current impact.

Djordje Djurdjevic, Robert Curl, Aleksandar Protic

The life and achievements are well worth study by all students.  Students will learn what it takes to be an inventor and what kind of inventor Tesla was.  There is a great contrast in styles between Nikola Tesla and the other great inventor of his time, Thomas Edison.  Edison would have an idea and then attempt to bring it to fruition by  tinkering with models.  Tesla, on the other hand, would think very deeply about what he was trying to create drawing on paper a number of versions of what he wanted.  When he then made a working model it would be very close to the final machine.  Both Tesla and Edison were men of determination, who were willing to work long and hard in order to achieve ultimate success.  While Edison did much to advance technology, no invention of his has an important place in modern society – his incandescent lamp is rapidly being replaced. There is nothing yet imagined that will replace Tesla’s AC motor, a key element of the modern world.

Robert Curl, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Professor, Rice University, USA

Tesla’s economic environment

How to place a man beyond historic context in the economic environment of his time, inventor which looked on money just as means to realize ideas that he regarded as benefit to humanity living his life beyond greed for wealth and power. It seems that his path was already destined for circumstances that he lived in.

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 Tesla emigration to United States in 1884 looks at the first glance as move of a man which searched for a fertile ground where he can further develop his science and ideas. His mission and thrive to leave a legacy for all humanity, was a far more calculated event then mere change of the ground where he just lived and played by his destiny as precise as his inventions was.

At that time United States was in the first international crisis known where stock price bubbles fears originated in Europe spread across the world. USA was tightening monetary policy to get back on the gold standard after US Civil war, and money in circulation become scarce. Prices of Silver started to fall and caused all different assets class devaluation. Railways was in overbuilding peak at that time and tight monetary policy resulted in collapsed bubble in 1973. Some believes that shortages of gold  and consequent subsequent gold rush in US and Africa helped alleviate this crises.  Kondratieff cycles suggest the Second Industrial Revolution has just spurred initial costs and financial systems in countries eager to ride the cycle experienced large shifts in to their economies and over cost in attempt to make a new daring step in to the new future.

Exactly there in 1884 precise destiny mathematically orchestrated his arrival and made  him as prominent tool for Industrial revolution that his inventions has initiated. Why US? Because that was the only place at that time that had power to let him ride his life wave and give birth to his already well designed apparatus for harnessing the universal powers in to our use. This power of Zeus has been given trough him to humanity and made irreversible revolution in world future.

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During his life Tesla has been a contemporary of internal US and world events that would lay foundation in technology where we are today. World war I, great depression in 1930 and stock market crash, World war II all can be described as events which pushed technology and financial development ahead  despite catastrophic effect of war on human population and horrors of war. If one nation can be named as one which has started to monetize technology in to bankable US dollar terms, It is United States.

His life was interwoven  with financial world at that time which looked to exploit his inventions and push the Industrial revolution ahead. His constant need for financial means for his experiments provoked on other side unwilling compromises with financial moguls of the time. His abandonment of the same compromises left him alone at the end with a bear means to complete his life mission respectably. If you look what happened after his life on this earth, you would see exponential expansion of economies, financial and credit expansion and technologies. I guess he already knew since he was a master of mechanics in movement.

Are we just one giant machine guided by universe? He for sure displayed enough evidence for that answer.

Aleksandar Koprivica, Director, Associates Treasury Solutions

Nikola Tesla – a pure genius and ultimate humanitarian

Famous NYC Columbia University Professor Dr Gordana Vunjak Novaković, recipient of many science awards, is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in USA.
She is our friend and colleague on our recent book “The essential Nikola Tesla: peacebuilding endeavor” which we together released at Harvard University on 11th February 2015. 

Gordana Vunjak Novakovic
“Nikola Tesla has been a part of my life since I was a little girl. He was born to a Serbian family in Lika, the Military Frontier where Serbs have lived for many centuries, the very same area my father’s family comes from; the two families are even distantly related. Every day, I would look at one of the most beautiful monuments to Nikola Tesla, in front of the School of Engineering in Belgrade, where I studied and later worked. Another bust of Tesla is due to be erected in front of the Saint Sava Church in downtown Belgrade, the largest Orthodox church in the world. Now in New York, I often see the Nikola Tesla Corner, at his last residence at Bryant Park. Needless to say, I have many books about him and his legacy. And most recently I was delighted to join the “Tesla Village”, a virtual town of 33,000 people from all around the world who joined forces to save Tesla’s last laboratory and build the Tesla museum.  Shortly after I came to Columbia University, there was a symposium celebrating his contributions to our civilization, on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

 Tesla book

His bust is also in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering where I now work. Columbia University is the place where Tesla presented, in May 1888, one of the most significant lectures in the history of science, describing the rotating magnetic field that is at the heart of alternating current motors and today’s use of electrical energy. The impact of this discovery was transformative – through harnessing the power of the Great Falls of Niagara and into the era of light and power. Within just two years, Tesla developed the first neon and fluorescent illumination – fifty years before these came to use, took the first x-ray photographs, and illuminated a vacuum tube wirelessly – marking the beginning of his lifelong obsession – the wireless transmission of energy. 

As Charles F Scott said: “The evolution of electrical power from the discovery of Faraday to the initial great installation of the Tesla polyphase system in 1896 is undoubtedly the most tremendous event in all engineering history.” LaGuardia said it in just a few words: “Should Tesla’s work be suddenly withdrawn, we would slump into darkness”.  We know that Tesla – the patron saint of electricity – was very tall (6’6”), handsome and well dressed, and ascetic. He was grateful for his creativeness to both his parents – his mother Djuka (“able to make three knots on an eyelash”) and his Serbian priest father. He was imaginative without being bound to what existed or seemed to be possible, passionate about discovery, and fanatic about work. He had many unusual talents: spoke 8 languages, could memorize an entire book, and visualize complete devices in his head and build them without making a drawing. A story says that he drew a diagram of the AC motor in the sand with a stick, while reciting Goethe’s Faust. He was a pure and natural genius and a true humanitarian – at the level of greatness that goes beyond caring for money or recognition. He generously allowed Westinghouse to renegotiate a patent deal that enabled the financially strapped company to establish the electricity standard we have today.   I was recently asked to speak for the Harlem Biospace, a technology incubator in New York City, about what an entrepreneur can learn from Tesla’s legacy. This was quite a challenge, as Tesla was the principal architect of the modern age without being an entrepreneur like Edison or Westinghouse who commercialized his timeless discoveries.
  Harvard poster 1
 Going back to the topic of the Harlem Biospace lecture, I thought of the following lessons we could learn from Tesla.   Dreaming big and never giving up. Tesla was destined to become a priest, but found a way to become an engineer and focus on discovery. He survived cholera, bankruptcy, the loss of two of his laboratories and a lot of hardship without ever abandoning his dream. Inventing a better world. He spent life working tirelessly and making big leaps in science and engineering towards a new and better world, without any material gain for himself.  Learning what is special about yourself. Early on, Tesla observed that he could visualize with the greatest ease even the most complex things. He could build new machines without models, drawings or experiments, just from the pictures in his mind.  Working for the humankind. Tesla said: “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through a human heart like that felt by inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success… Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything…”.  Tesla showed that being a great entrepreneur — one who commercialized a critical standard that powers innovation 125 years later — isn’t necessarily about the money. He acted as a quintessential engineer and humanist, by finding ways to utilize the resources of the planet to the benefit of humankind.”
Article from our book: “The essential Nikola Tesla: peacebuilding endeavor”

AEFE, celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of UNESCO

Tesla Memory Project had participated at this year’s edition of the Asia-Europe Forum on Education (AEFE), dedicated to an important historical landmark:

the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of UNESCO.

The Third Edition of the AEFE was the first one to be hosted on European soil, namely in Bucharest, Romania from October 7-11, 2015.

The main pillar for discussion regards current challenges to education. AEFE UNESCO 2015 was dedicated entirely to the themes regarding Sustainable Development in Education.

Europe Asia Edu Forum

The forum was organized in a manner which promotes a high level of interaction among the participants. In addition to the official forum related activities, the participants went on several tours, a field trip, visits to relevant institutions and attend several official ceremonies.

The activities were scheduled to be as educational and as dynamic as possible, in order to encourage the participants to share ideas, experiences and good practices regarding current educational methods. Participants were encouraged to present a paper during the forum meetings in order to fuel a relevant debate regarding the forum’s theme on sustainable development in education.

Europe Asia Education Forum

It is paramount that relevant personalities who are active in the educational field come together and discuss from a global perspective the contemporary dilemmas regarding educational ethics. Constant, well-organized and efficacious dialogue is the only solution to the obstacles in education determined by issues such as economic globalization, computerization and ever-increasing cultural diversity. The Asia-Europe Forum on Education was established in 2013 as an international gathering where such problems are specifically targeted.

The first edition of the forum was hosted by the Huijia School in Beijing, China in 2013. The forum was a success, bringing together a vast number of participants. The first edition was themed Ethics Education and was centered on professors’ responsibility, efficient approaches and effects. The forum launched the Passport for Global Ethics, a ground breaking document aimed at promoting ethical education on a global scale.

The second edition of the forum, themed The Multicultural Challenge, was hosted by the Jilin HuaQiao Foreign Languages University in China. The participants discussed the importance of promoting multicultural education and concrete ways of improving international communication regarding educational issues.

Main Organizers and Partners:

Ministry of Education and Scientific Research

Romanian National Commission for UNESCO

United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Romania

Romanian Government Interethnic Relations Department

Alumnus Club for UNESCO

University of Agronomic Science and Veterinary Medicine

Chinese National Commission for UNESCO

World Federation of UNESCO Clubs and Associations

European Federation of UNESCO Clubs and Associations

Asia-Pacific Federations of UNESCO Clubs and Associations

Romanian Federation of UNESCO Clubs and Associations

Chinese National Federation of UNESCO Clubs and Associations

International Bureau of Education

Chinese Association of Non-Governmental Education

Foundation for Education Development

Cultural Center of Bucharest Municipality  …