A Quick Look at Montenegro

One of the stops on my recent trip to the Balkans was Montenegro. Sitting on the coast of the magnificent Adriatic Sea, Montenegro was once part of the former Yugoslavia, along with Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and others. Independent since 2006, Montenegro’s name comes from its mountainous geography, most notably the black shadow cast over its beautiful coastal waters by the looming mountains.

Przno, Montenegro

Our base for three days was the resort area of Pržno, near the town of Budva. Nestled into a cove surrounded by rocky ledges and pebbly beaches, the views were gorgeous. A short walk through the pine woods along the shore brings to you Sveti Stefan, a narrow islet now connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. A home for the rich and famous, guests shell out considerable Euros to stay in one of the 50 rooms, cottages, or suites on the exclusive resort.

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

A short drive away is the old city of Kotor with its ancient walls and narrow lanes. I’ll have more on Kotor in the future.

Kotor, Montenegro

Leaving Kotor we wiggled and waggled up the narrow switchbacks of the aptly named Lovcenske serpentine, seen below in a photo from our tour organizer, Sherry Kumar. This is only a small segment; you can see more of it in this photo.

Serpentine road Montenegro_Sherry Kumar

The trek up was harrowing, especially when we turned a corner and narrowly missed getting rammed by a car coming down. Worse, at one point near the top we were forced to back down the winding road to find a spot wide enough (barely) for a large hay-filled truck to assertively get past us. But once we got to the top (or nearly the top), the view was worth it.

Kotor, Montenegro

And there was much more – a drive through a National Park, a long climb on foot up to a famous mausoleum, and visit to the old capital of Cetinje were wrapped around a delightful lunch at a renowned restaurant in the middle of nowhere. More on all of this later.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

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Now Available! Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern WorldMy newest book, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World, is now available.

You can purchase it on the Barnes and Noble website as either the hard cover book or a Nook e-book.

It will also be displayed prominently in the front of Barnes and Noble stores across the country. If you don’t see it yet, be sure to ask for it.

As with Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, the books are expected to sell out fast so get your first edition while they last. [For Tesla fans, you can get the book for half price this month in honor of his 160th birthday]

Check out this preview of Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget you have only a week left to enter to win free copies of both Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World on Goodreads.

Nikola Tesla

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Meeting Tesla Royalty in Serbia

I’m just back from a two week trip that took me to Nikola Tesla’s homelands in Serbia and Croatia (with Montenegro in between). Among many other other experiences I had the good fortune of meeting with what can be considered Tesla royalty (not to mention, actual royalty).

Dr. Branimir Jovanovic, Tesla Museum, Belgrade

Within hours of arrival I hiked up to the Nikola Tesla Museum to meet with the Director, Dr. Branimir Jovanovic. The museum was officially closed to the public, but Dr. Jovanovic and I had corresponded in advance and he encouraged me to stop by. Amidst an invite-only champagne reception we talked about Tesla, the museum, and the future, including the new exhibits and web site that would be launched the very next day. I presented him with a copy of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity signed and inscribed to him.

HRH Prince Alexander of Serbia

The next evening I attended a private reception of Tesla people at the Royal Palace and met HRH Crown Prince Alexander and HRH Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia. [Read here for background on the royal family and why he doesn’t use the term “King”] Prince Alexander and I  (with Tesla Science Foundation President Nikola Lonchar above) discussed ways to expand the public’s knowledge of Tesla. I offered to reach out to magazines in the U.S. and told I’m working with the Serbian Embassy in Washington DC to give a presentation at the Smithsonian Institution this fall. I also spent time talking to Princess Katherine about her many humanitarian efforts.

At the Royal Palace

While at the Palace I was introduced to another Tesla royalty of sorts, a gentleman who has published three books on Tesla in the Serbian language and who, along with Nikola Lonchar, is looking to get them translated into English. And, of course, there is the ultimate in Tesla “royalty” in William Terbo, the grandnephew of Nikola Tesla. Terbo was not in Serbian for these events (he was attending events in Canada for Tesla’s birthday), but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Terbo on past occasions. It might sound a little saccharin to say, but it was a thrill to shake the hand of a man who shook the hand of Nikola Tesla (when Terbo was 10 years old).

I’ll have much more on this trip to Serbia and environs in the future. Before I end I have to thank Sherry Kumar for organizing the trip to Tesla’s homeland and Nikola Lonchar for his incredible leadership in helping today’s world come to know the incredible contributions of Nikola Tesla. Check back here soon for more of my travels.

Watch this space for plenty of great photos of Nikola Tesla’s heritage homelands.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget you can enter to win free copies of both Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World on Goodreads.

Nikola Tesla

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Visiting Tesla’s Homeland – Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla was born 160 years ago at midnight of July 9th/10th. His father was a Serbian cleric; his mother the daughter and sister of Serbian clerics. In a portent of his future, Tesla came to this Earth during a lightning storm – “a child of the light” – in the little town of Smiljan, then part of the Austrian empire in what is now Croatia. This year’s birthday celebration will be held in Serbia, along with Montenegro and Croatia.

After a day in Amsterdam, Serbian Airlines will swoop us into Nikola Tesla Airport in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade. First stop is the Tesla Museum, which will be launching a virtual reality exhibition the day of my arrival. I’m looking forward to a personal tour by the new Director, Dr. Branimir Jovanovic. An updated permanent exhibit will open the next day. Also part of the Tesla celebration are an art exhibit, a conference, and an evening gala, at which an award is waiting for me in recognition of the fantastic distribution of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity. I plan to donate a copy to Dr. Jovanovi at the Museum on my arrival.

Of course, I’ll also be visiting with HRH Prince Alexander and HRH Princess Katherine of Serbia during an evening reception at the Royal Palace. When not dining with royalty I’ll be doing a walking tour of Belgrade and a day tour into the interior of Serbia, complete with castles, monasteries, and wineries.

Then it’s time to hop on Montenegro Airlines to Sveti Stefan for some of the best beaches on the Adriatic Sea on the coast of Montenegro. Over a few days we’ll see the historical capital of Cetinje, the National Park of Loveen, and the Fortress of Kotor.

From there it’s up the coast to Dubrovnik in Croatia where the plan is to spend a day on a yacht enjoying the coastline. Another day will be on foot, exploring the famed walls surrounding the city. From here we fly Croatia Airlines (have to get all three airlines into the itinerary) to Frankfurt, where we’ll explore the old city for a day before heading back home (on a fourth airline).

Watch this space for plenty of great photos of Nikola Tesla’s heritage homelands.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget you can enter to win free copies of both Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World on Goodreads.

Nikola Tesla

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Tesla and Edison Books – Free Giveaways on Goodreads

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were rivals in the war of the currents. Nikola Tesla (and George Westinghouse) won that war and went on to electrify the world. Thomas Edison lost out in the AC vs DC battles, but had a productive career leading his invention factories. I’ve had the pleasure of writing about both men, and now you have a chance to read both books for free!

Nikola Tesla

In celebration of the newly released 7th printing of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, you can enter to win a free, first edition, signed by the author, hardcover copy of the book.

Just click here to go to Goodreads and enter the contest.

 

 

 

 

Edison cover on BN

And this month also sees the release of my newest book, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World. Like Tesla, Edison is a beautiful, fully illustrated, hardcover book featuring stories and insights. Previous biographies of Edison neglected to mention his rivalry with Tesla, so I made a point to include Tesla wherever he interacted with Edison.

Click here and enter to win one of 5 free first edition, signed by the author, hardcover copies of the book.

 

 
You can enter either free book contest – or both! The contests are open until July 27th, so be sure to enter and then pass along the information to your friends.

While you do that, I’ll be visiting Nikola Tesla’s heritage in Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia, including the world-famous Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade. In fact, I’ll be flying into Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport. I’ll be taking tons of photos of the trip and will post them here as soon as I can (and from the road if I can get wifi).

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach – Through the Glidepath

Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle BeachRipley’s has become synonymous with oddities-based attractions, and you’ll find a bunch of them in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (including Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Haunted Adventure, Moving Theater, and Marvelous Mirror Maze). But Ripley’s has also gotten into the aquarium business. Enter the glidepath at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach.

The glidepath is Ripley’s name for their 340-foot long acrylic underwater tunnel, where you walk safely among the swimming sharks, sea turtles, sting rays, and sawfish. This aquarium is one of the rare ones with sawfish.

Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

Sawfish would seem to fit in well with the Ripley’s oddities theme. They look a lot like sharks that have partially swallowed a chain saw, but they are technically a family of rays (like the sting rays that are numerous around them). To confuse things further, sawfish are commonly called carpenter sharks, though that name seems to suit them well. Unfortunately, sawfish are rather rare; they are considered Endangered or Critically Endangered species. Mostly they use the “saw” (technically, a rostrum) to poke around in the bottom sand for food, but they can also slash their way through schooling fish and pick up the pieces.

Sawfish, Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

The aquarium is relatively small but does have a nice selection of the typical tropical fish common to aquariums – tangs of various colors; angelfish; triggerfish, clown fish; cichlids; damsel fish; a really cool 3-foot Arawana; barracudas; groupers; sandbar, blacktip, leopard, bonnethead, and nurse sharks; and a variety of rays. In the Amazon section they have iguanas, poison dart frogs, and piranha. Of course there are also the octopuses, horseshoe crabs, and jellyfish that are ubiquitous to aquariums. They also had a very large catfish.

Catfish, Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

The aquarium sits at one end of a salt water pond surrounded by a variety of restaurants and other attractions. Unlike the large catfish in the aquarium, apparently the pond’s resident catfish have turned into beggars, eagerly gulping for anything edible tossed in by the touristing hordes.

More catfish, outside Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

Overall the aquarium and area are a nice day’s visit. Easy to reach just south of the North/South Carolina border, and with plentiful parking, the aquarium is worth a visit if you’re in the area. My visit was part of a longer road trip that took us down through the center of Virginia and North Carolina, then back up through North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Along the way was the North Carolina Aquarium, a quaint little place on historic Roanoke Island. More on that in a future post.

See my Aquariums visited list!

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Special Event – Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 Election

Abraham LincolnAs the current day political conventions get ready to officially name Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the Democratic and Republican nominees, it brings us back to when a relatively unknown Abraham Lincoln unexpectedly gained the nomination – and won the election – of 1860.

Going into the Republican convention of 1860 the most likely nominee was New York Senator William H. Seward, with Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase a close second and likely strong showings by Senator Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania and former Congressman Edward Bates of Missouri. Oh, and then there was Abraham Lincoln, who hadn’t held political office since his one term as a U.S. Congressman ended a dozen years before.

The surprising results of the nomination convention and election will be the subject of a special event sponsored by the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia (LGDC).

On Saturday, August 13, 2016, the group will discuss Lincoln’s 1860 Election including his road to the Republican presidential nomination and his victory in the November election. Parallels to this year’s party nominations and the impending campaign will be explored by experienced LGDC Open Discussion leaders John O’Brien, chair of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church History Committee, and LGDC president John T. Elliff.

More information is available on the Lincoln Group website.

NY Avenue Church window

The event is being held at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC (“Lincoln’s Church), which features a beautiful stained glass window highlighting Abraham Lincoln. There is also a Lincoln Parlor containing artifacts and a John Quincy Adams room. Tours of these historic areas follow the program.

I am happy to say that I was recently elected Vice President of Programs for LGDC. We already have an excellent line-up of speakers for our fall program 2016 and are working on filling slots for 2017. Anyone with ideas for speakers can contact me any time.

Please put Saturday, August 13th on your calendar and join us for this entertaining and informative event. Check out the LGDC website for more about our group.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Catching Up with Life on the Blogs

I’ll shortly be heading out on another science traveling expedition. More on that in a bit. Be sure to check out recent travel-related posts here on Science Traveler (see below). In addition, here’s my monthly roundup of the other blogs.

Connected father and son fishingHot White Snow is where you’ll find my more “creative” writing, includiing responses to writing prompts, some memoir-ish works, and articles “On Writing.” Lately I’ve been writing responses to the Daily Post, a daily writing prompt feature on WordPress. Featured recently (click on the title to read the post):

  • It’s Just a Phase: “He’ll grow out of it,” she insisted, as blood oozed from her husband’s stab wound. And if that isn’t Monty Pythonesque enough…
  • The Circus of Life: A bit of social commentary blending The Lion King with The Lyin’ King.
  • Connected: A heartfelt reminiscence of connecting with my father while fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee many years ago.
  • A Struggle to Write: A painful day of non-writing.

Arctic_Antarctic sea iceThe Dake Page focuses on communicating science to the general populace, often with an emphasis on climate change. That said, this month’s features begin with chemicals law. Recent articles:

Beijing Aquarium jellyfishOf course, here on Science Traveler we focus on traveling to exotic lands and stories about Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and other books I’m working on. Here are some of the recent travel posts:

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern WorldBut wait, there’s more. I also received my first advance copy of Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World, which will be in stores next month. And Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has hit yet another success milestone (more on that soon)!

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Remembering the Alamo

Recently I was in San Antonio and visited the world-famous Alamo. I was surprised that the real-life Alamo and the battle was a little different than the Disney version I remembered as a kid. There was also some science.

My view of what the Alamo looks like was correct – it looks like this:

Alamo

But apparently it didn’t look like that during the famous 1836 battle in which between 182-257 Texians were killed in a siege and attack by General (and Mexican President) Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The iconic bell-shaped top was only added much later. I was also surprised to learn that the Alamo complex was actually a much larger compound inside sturdy walls and a series of outer buildings. It was only after the Mexican army overwhelmed those walls that the few remaining Texians, including Davy Crockett, James Bowie (of Bowie knife fame), and William Travis, finally retreated to the mission chapel that stands as the symbol of the Alamo today.

In the grounds behind the chapel I came across a surgeon with his tools of the trade.

Alamo doctorThe good doctor regaled us with stories of the medical practices of the day. You can see the hacksaw on the table used for amputations. There are also leeches for bloodletting, stiff brandy for medicinal painkilling, and a variety of other instruments that range from precursors of today’s instruments to objects that seemed more appropriate for the Marquis de Sade.

Great-Tailed Grackle

Interrupting the demonstration was a beautiful Great-Tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) with its iridescent feathers, rudder-like tails, and haunting yellow eyes. These birds are much bigger than the Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) I normally see, or even the much closer Boat-Tailed Grackles (Quiscalus major) that are less common and hang out near marshes. While the male Great-Tails were getting all the attention, the less iridescent and smaller females were busy grabbing plant material to repair the nests and grubs to feed the young.

Doctor at Alamo

By now the doctor was finishing up his presentation. Little did I know he wouldn’t be the last doctor I would see that day. But that’s a story for another time.

That’s all folks! At least for now.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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Thomas Edison is Here!

There was an ominous knock on the door around 7 p.m. last night. By the time I opened it there was nothing to be seen except a package, a manila envelope the same size I generally use to send out books to those who request signed copies via my website. And then it dawned on me – Edison was here!

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World

I finished the writing of Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World just as summer was turning to fall. Then copy editing, design, printing, scheduling (all thankfully done by my great editorial team and publisher). It seemed it would be forever before I would see the book in print, and now the day had come. I was holding it in my hands.

The book was an advance copy sent by my editor. “Congratulations!,” the card inside said. More copies would come when the printer’s shipment reached the warehouse. That would be in July. Next month. It was finally happening.

I’ve been through this before, of course. Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity followed a similar schedule and my heart raced when I held that first copy. That thrill returns, just as I hope it will for every advance copy of every book I write.

Check out a preview of Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World.

Monday had been a bad day – it seemed everyone had their hand in my pocket, the roof was leaking, and nagging problems just didn’t seem to want to go away. But Tuesday made up for all that. A day later, I’m still thrilled.

I’ll be doing a Goodreads giveaway of both books, Tesla and Edison, shortly so check back soon for details. The Edison book in both hardcopy and e-book formats will be available for pre-order on the Barnes and Noble website any time now, and you’ll find the book in Barnes and Noble bookstores in late July.

Stay tuned!

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.

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