Day 2 Tesla Memorial Conference – Tesla’s Technical Side

In my last post I introduced the first day of the Tesla Memorial Conference held January 5-7, 2013 in the New Yorker Hotel. While Day 1 focused primarily on various ongoing projects (e.g., acquisition of Wardenclyffe) and artistic endeavors (e.g., my book and other inspirations), Day 2 focused on Tesla’s technical contributions.

Starting us off was Manoj Shah, the 2012 recipient of the IEEE Nikola Tesla Award, which is given annually to “an individual or team that has made an outstanding contribution to the generation or utilization of electric power.” Dr. Shah is an electrical engineer at GE Global Research. In his presentation he highlighted some of the electrical machines produced by GE and how Tesla’s work influenced their designs.

Manoj Shah

Other speakers included Thomas Valone of Integrity Research Institute discussing electrotherapeutic devices (a little zap a day will do ya), Nicholas Simos of Brookhaven Labs discussing wireless energy transmission, and my personal favorite, Marko Popovic of Worcester Polytechnic Institute discussing Tesla and Robotics. Dr. Popovic reminded us that it was none other than Nikola Tesla who developed what can be considered the first robot, a remote controlled boat he called a telautomaton that he first publicly demonstrated in Madison Square Garden in 1898.

Tesla robot remote controlled boat

Popovic also mentioned another inventor, John Hays Hammond, Jr., who collaborated with Tesla for a while and eventually made a larger remote controlled robotic boat. I mention Hammond briefly here because of a connection I have with him, which I’ll talk about in a later post. For now, here is the slide in which Popovic showed Hammond and his boat.

John Hays Hammond Jr.

Tesla expert and author Marc Seifer then discussed the significance of the later years of the Wardenclyffe, when Tesla had run out of funding and was desperately trying to interest new investors. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful and the Wardenclyffe tower was torn down for scrap to pay off some of Tesla’s debts.


The morning ended with math. Musical math. David Pokrajac explained the technical basis behind a unique musical instrument called the Theremin, which is the world’s first electronic device and the only wireless instrument. The performer, in this case Mano Divina, “captures electricity in mid-air and bends it with his hands to sing Opera,” all without touching the instrument at all.

The day continued with demonstrations of Tesla coils, wireless energy transmissions, gyroscopes, a few sparks and much more, all of which can be seen on the video recordings kindly provided by Kevin Wood Media. After closing remarks many attended a memorial service for Nikola Tesla and celebrated the Serbian Orthodox Christmas at St. Sava, a nearby Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Meanwhile, I hopped a train back to DC (work beckons). Before I left I took this photo of the plaque honoring Nikola Tesla on the side of the New Yorker Hotel, where he lived the last ten years of his life.

Tesla plaque New Yorker Hotel

Many thanks to the Tesla Science Foundation, especially to Nikola Lonchar and Marina Schwabic, for organizing a wonderful conference. I was proud to have contributed my small part and enjoyed the conference and attendees immensely.

More on Nikola Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity.

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6 thoughts on “Day 2 Tesla Memorial Conference – Tesla’s Technical Side

  1. Another wonderful post.. so fascinating! Glad you enjoyed the conference. I will check out the New Yorker Hotel next time I am in NYC. 🙂

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