Esteemed thinker: Nikola Tesla

futureIt is astounding to think that only a hundred and fifteen years ago, which is not a very long ago in the realm of time, the world was in the throes of a new millennium. This was the Edwardian era, the very beginning of the 20th century, and the future seemed as unrealistic as one could imagine. Airplanes, radios, and wireless transmission were at its infancy. And if only the predictions had come true, what a different world it would be. Andrew Carnegie hoped warfare would “become the most dishonorable” profession and Secretary of the Navy John D. Long held the common belief that war would be abolished.”

Forward to the 21st century, where we began with such inventions as segways, ipods, braile gloves and hybrid cars. Sadly we cannot celebrate the predictions of Carnegie and Long for they did not hold up to the test of time. Which leads us to today’s esteemed thinker: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) a world renowned scientist who made some of his own predictions seventy or so years before the millennium.

nikola tesla Nikola Tesla, born in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire, the region of modern day Croatia. In 1873 he began his studies in mathematics and physics at the University in Prague, however became fascinated with electricity. In 1881 he started his career in electrical engineering in Budapst and privately built a reduction motor, a radical idea that was not received well in Europe. As a result he moved to the United States and worked with Thomas Edison. For the next 59 years he established himself as a great inventor, which included constructing his theory of alternating current, in direct conflict with Edison’s theory of direct current. In 1882, Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, a fundamental principle in physics and the basis of nearly all devices that use alternating current. Alternating current became standard power in the 20th Century, an accomplishment that ultimately changed the world.

I now bring to you a snippet from an article in the 1935 issue of Liberty magazine. Here is one of many predictions made by the inventor, Nikola Tesla, a man who probably did not predict his own beneficial contribution to everyday life.

“… At present we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age. The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine. Innumerable activities still performed by human hands today will be performed by automatons. At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a ” thinking machine.” I anticipated this development. I actually constructed “robots.”

Today the robot is an accepted fact, but the principle has not been pushed far enough. In the twenty-first century the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization. There is no reason at all why most of this should not come to pass in less than a century, freeing mankind to pursue its higher aspirations…”

Esteemed thinker: Thomas A. Edison

Thomas edison phonograph Of all the distinctions belonging to men and women that seem to remain intact, even after we have grown old, is the distinct sound of our voice. Hearing from a long ago friend after years of drifting apart, a voice continues to remain true. It has the ability to stir up memories, some happy some not; but regardless of the recollections, the voice returns us to a lost place, a time, an emotion, or just a smile.

So even when a face and body has changed, it is often the sounds we hear that allows us to close our eyes and recall a misplaced memory.

Today’s blog introduces to us the esteemed thinker: Thomas A.Edison; the renowned American inventor who brought the sound of “voice” into the home. The phonograph may not be today seen as a modern miracle, however go back to the 1870s and such a devise was indeed a universal marvel. The first patent that was ever granted on a device for permanently recording the human voice and other sounds, and for reproducing the same audibly at any future time, was United States Patent issued to Edison on February 19, 1878, the application having been filed December 24, 1877. “Mary had a little lamb” were the first words that Edison recorded on the phonograph and he was amazed when he heard the machine play them back to him. ““I was never so taken aback in my life,” he recounted. “I was always afraid of things that worked the first time.”

Thomas edison portraitEdison (1847-1931 b. Milan, Ohio) held more than 1,000 patents for his inventions such as the light bulb and motion picture camera. However, it is the phonograph that we herald in today’s blog, for it saves “the voice” for us even after the speaker is long gone.

First image: Man, two women and two children listening to phonograph–Girl is holding doll and another doll is under Christmas tree with a portrait of Edison: 1897