The electrifying world of Nikola Tesla

February 20, 2014 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Inventor Nikola Tesla was one of greatest geniuses and biggest underdogs of the modern age.

While Thomas Edison is credited with being the inventor of the lightbulb, it is Tesla’s alternating current that today powers much of the world. Likewise, while Guglielmo Marconi is popularly credited with inventing the radio, Tesla’s work was instrumental in its development. In fact, the Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s patent in 1943, crediting Tesla with being the first to patent radio technology.

Tesla's life was full of great highs and disappointing lows. His inventions made him wealthy and popular, but over time he lost his fame and fortune and died alone in a New York City hotel room, impoverished and in debt. Now a new generation is rediscovering Tesla and is working to make sure his contributions to society are not forgotten.

In this hour-long webinar, a panel of Tesla experts discuss his turbulent life, his inventions and his legacy.

Our panel of experts include:

Author Marc Seifer, whose biography, Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla, portrays Tesla as the principal architect of the modern age. He explores the struggles Tesla faced to get credit for his inventions and how a man with great vision ended up impoverished and all but forgotten. Seifer's presentation looks at Tesla the man and what drove him to invent, the qualities that made him a great scientist, and his most influential inventions.

Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center, a not-for-profit organization that is converting Tesla’s lab at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, NY, into a center for science education and research. Alcorn has been instrumental in the successful crowdfunding effort to raise funds to restore and preserve the lab for future generations. Alcorn updates us on the work under way at Wardenclyffe.

And Joe DiPrima, artist and founding member of ArcAttack — a performance group that uses Tesla coils to make music. ArcAttack has wowed audiences with their sparking coils and lightning conducting stunt man. They've collaborated with magician-illusionist David Blaine on an endurance challenge and were featured on the TV show "America's Got Talent." The group not only entertains but educates the public on the science behind Tesla's coils. DiPrima introducew us to ArcAttack and demonstrates how they use the coils to make music. (Resource list from DiPrima's presentation)

Speaker Bios:

Marc Seifer
Author of Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla

An expert on the inventor Nikola Tesla, Marc J. Seifer has lectured at West Point Military Academy, Brandeis University, at the United Nations, the Open Center in New York, LucasFilms Industrial Light & Magic in California, in Zagreb and Belgrade for the Serbian Academy of Sciences and at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England. With articles in Wired, Civilization, and Cerebrum, he has been featured in Brain/Mind Bulletin, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist and The Wall Street Journal. Seifer has also appeared on Coast to Coast radio, the History Channel TV and the BBC. A retired lecturer from Roger Williams University, his books include Transcending the Speed of Light, The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis, Framed! and Doppelgänger. His biography Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla, translated into 8 languages has been called “A Serious Piece of Scholarship” by Scientific American, “Revelatory” by Publisher’s Weekly, and a “Masterpiece” by best-selling author Nelson DeMille,  It is also “Highly Recommended” by the American Association for the Academy of Science (AAAS).

Jane Alcorn
President of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe

Jane Alcorn is one of the original founders and current president of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, an organization working to create a science center in the last remaining laboratory of scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla. For over 18 years she has worked towards saving the property, a goal which was realized on May 2, 2013, after a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo which grossed $1.3+ million. A retired teacher and school librarian, she is currently a part-time children’s librarian at North Shore Public Library. Alcorn is past president and current vice-president of the Wading River Historical Society, and her interest in local history and science are merged in the efforts to save Wardenclyffe. Alcorn attended Stony Brook University where she earned her BA in Art and Education in 1971; she also received an MA in Liberal Studies at Stony Brook University in 1976, and subsequently earned an MS at CW Post in Library Science in 1989.

Joe DiPrima
Performance Artist and Founding Member of ArcAttack
Coming Soon!


Adam Ruben
Scientist-Comedian, Author of Science Career's Experimental Error column

Adam Ruben is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and molecular biologist in Washington, D.C. who has performed stand-up comedy for over 10 years at clubs, colleges, and private venues. Adam is the author of the book Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School (Broadway Books, 2010) and the monthly humor column "Experimental Error" in Science Careers. He has appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered," the Food Network's "Food Detectives," and the Science Channel's "Head Rush," and currently co-hosts "You Have Been Warned" on the Discovery Channel. Learn more at adamruben.net.