On Thursday Czech Radio became part of the international multimedia project Tesla Planetary Gathering. The project was initiated by Serbian Radio Belgrade, and it aims to create a network of radio stations connecting the towns where Nikola Tesla lived and worked. A newly-installed bust of Tesla, unveiled yesterday in the Czech Radio building, is a memorial to the scientist who established the basic concept of radio technology, a genius who spent a significant part of his scientific and intellectual life at the Technical University in Prague. Mirna Solic reports:
Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 into a family of Serb peasants in one of the poorest regions in Croatia, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Before leaving for America to begin the period of his great research, Tesla was heavily involved in the intellectual life of Central Europe. The inventor of radio technology, rotating magnetic fields and polyphase AC currents studied at the Technical University in Prague, which was at that time one of the best technical schools in Europe. He was ingenious but his work wouldn't be possible without the knowledge of philosophy and physics he gained in Central Europe, says Drenka Dobrosavljevic from Radio Novi Sad:
"At that time Ernst Mach, one of the greatest European philosophers and physicist, was teaching in Prague. At that time there were also professors in Graz and Prague who had a deep knowledge leading to the invention of telegraphy. That points to the fact that although he was ingenious, he gained here great knowledge important for his theories."
Tesla was not only an engineer and scientist, but also a philosopher who in his unpublished autobiography wrote that global communications would help connect people and knowledge, and prevent conflicts and wars. The Tesla Planetary Gathering is therefore building upon Tesla's thoughts, and aims to connect different cultures by radio broadcasting, says Rade Veljanovski, the director of Radio Belgrade:
"For now the project means that when we come to one of the towns where Tesla lived, we broadcast a programme on radio stations in all the towns where he lived. I hope that one day, that will be a great opportunity and a way to connect the whole planet by radio, which is really a great medium. The planet is already connected by radio and communications, and that's a great way for different cultures and peoples to meet and co-operate."
The organisers plan to spread the project to Vienna and later on possibly to America, but also expect that Tesla's home-country Croatia will join the project soon. Because of his scientific and intellectual achievements, Tesla belongs to everybody, says Mr Veljanovski, but due to the recent wars in the former Yugoslavia and the rise of nationalism, his image was frequently misused by different nationalistic movements:
"To be honest, in Serbia people think of Tesla in different ways. There are people who interpret history and tradition in a one-dimensional way, saying that Tesla is a "heavenly Serb," and put him in a nationalistic context that brought a lot of bad things to Serbs and other peoples of former Yugoslavia. But there's also a reasonable relation to Tesla as a connection with other people, because Tesla can't be considered as belonging to the heritage of just one nation. He's part of world heritage, and I think that's the right way to look at him."
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