Portrait of Nikola Tesla

Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe
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Friends of Science East Newsletter

Pursuing the Dream

Volume I, No. 3 (Spring 1999)

Table of Contents

Late Breaking News
Nature Trail Opens in Rocky Point
Nikola Tesla—Discoverer, Part 2
Up Close and Personal
President's Message

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Late Breaking News from FSE

President Carol Davis-Wiebelt and Board Member Bill Klatsky met with Town of Brookhaven Councilman Eugene Gerrard on June 15 to discuss the possibility of the town helping FSE in its efforts to obtain the Wardenclyffe property. Mr. Gerrard indicated that the town is very interested in FSE's plan to develop the property into a regional science center and museum as it fits into plans the town has for other tourism activities along the North Shore. He requested that FSE set up a meeting with AGFA representatives to discuss the proposed clean-up and potential disposition options involving the town and FSE. A letter requesting this meeting has been sent to AGFA. We are very encouraged by this and hope to have much more to report in our next newsletter.

Tesla Museum Safe

Reports from Belgrade, Yugoslavia inform us that the Nikola Tesla Museum there has escaped damage from the bombing of the city. The director of the museum, Dr. Branimir Jovanovic said, "We are safe and sound for now." The museum houses some of Tesla's personal belongings and instruments.

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FSE Sponsored Nature Trail Opens in Rocky Point

Davis-Wiebelt, Gaffney, congratulate Eagle Scout Andrew Jones

Carol Davis-Wiebelt, president of Friends of Science East, Inc. (left) joined Suffolk County Executive Robert Gaffney (center) in congratulating Eagle Scout Andrew Jones on his completion of the Nature Trail at the Rocky Point Passive Park.

The trail was marked with wooden trailmarkers made by Andrew as part of his Eagle Scout project. The beginning of the trail is graced by an information sign and brochure holder which he also constructed. Naturalist Karen Blumer of Shoreham explored the site to identify the native plants, and artist and writer Judy Trueman, also of Shoreham, provided the text and illustrations for the guide.

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Nikola Tesla—Discoverer, Part 2

By Gary Peterson
Tesla Wardenclyffe Project

Part one of this article briefly discussed some of Nikola Tesla's great inventions that have become a part of everyday life. His polyphase AC system and the induction motor, founded upon the rotating magnetic field principle, made possible the large scale electrification of our homes and factories. His pioneering investigations into high frequency alternating current phenomena translated directly into our present day systems for broadcasting and wireless communications. His extensive research in the areas of high frequency illumination and X-ray imaging broke ground for the development of the modern fluorescent tube. Tesla made significant advances in all of these areas, but he didn't stop there.

Most people who recognize the name Tesla, connect it with his work in electrical engineering. This gentleman's development of the 3-phase AC power system is now widely recognized, and his priority over Marconi in regards to the fundamental radio patents is gradually being acknowledged. And then there is the Tesla coil, a high voltage resonance transformer, which in the years since its development has become the subject of much speculation. He used it in experiments with a wireless system in which the signals would propagate through space as electromagnetic radiation—we now call that radio—but he favored another technique using the same apparatus in which the energy would be carried by a ground-hugging surface wave and, apparently, the conduction of electrical displacement currents through the earth itself. The Wardenclyffe plant was designed to operate on these latter principles.

It is not so well known thatTesla also received training as a mechanical engineer. Much of the apparatus associated with the work described above was electro-mechanical in nature, including motors and generators. There were also frequency control devices, designed for achieving transmitter stability, which depended upon mechanical resonance. Small versions of these isochronous resonators also saw duty as the local oscillators of his portable receivers. Some of these machines were totally mechanical, as with Tesla's reciprocating steam engine. Another interesting example is the telegeodynamic oscillator, an instrument specifically designed as a low frequency acoustic energy source for seismic exploration.

The most promising of Tesla's mechanical inventions may be the Tesla disk turbine. This relatively simple prime mover has a rotor consisting of shaft-mounted steel disks, suspended within a cylindrical housing on bearings. In operation, high velocity gases entering at the periphery of the disks, flow between them in free spiral paths to finally escape through central exhaust ports. Instead of extracting energy from the gas through an action on pistons, blades or vanes, the disk turbine depends upon the properties of adhesion and viscosity to achieve this result. The slight density of the moving gas and its attraction to the faces of the disks combined to efficiently transmit the fuel's energy to the disks and on to the shaft. Performance tests carried out on the Tesla turbine show that when constructed according to design specifications it compares favorably with conventional engines. It should be noted that the elegant disk-rotor design has already proven itself in a wide range of pumping applications.

So, while the good doctor is no longer with us, it appears that he still has something to offer mankind, this time in the form of his engineering legacy.

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FSE: Up Close and Personal

In the next several issues of our newsletter, we will profile the officers and Board of Directors of Friends of Science East, Inc.

Carol Davis-Wiebelt, President

Carol Davis Wiebelt is a resident of Rocky Point, where she lives with her husband and two sons. She has worked as an administrative consultant for grantees receiving funds under the federal Community Development Block Grant Program. Her work entails offering assistance to agencies in the areas of general administration, sub-grantee administration, environmental clearances, reporting, etc. She has been selfemployed since 1996 after working in the field for over 15 years. Ms. Davis-Wiebelt's hobbies include reading, writing news and feature articles for a local weekly newspaper, listening to classical music, and the theatre. She is also certified in elementary education and holds a Masters Degree in Political Science-Public Policy, both degrees from SUNY at Stony Brook. She participates in several organizations, but is concentrating her efforts on Friends of Science East activities at this time.

"My goal for FSE is to be able to achieve what we have set out to do; that is, obtain the Wardenclyffe property and develop into a regional science center and museum. The possibility of achieving this excites me and motivates me to talk up the project, meet with people and get a synergy going. What a challenge!"

Betty Coveney, Treasurer

Elizabeth (Betty) Coveney is a resident of Shoreham, where she lives with her children. She has previously worked as an Environmental Science Associate at Brookhaven National Laboratory form 1980 to 1987. Currently she works at Patchogue Medford High School, where she teaches chemistry.

Ms. Coveney was the first valedictorian for Shoreham-Wading River High School in 1977. She subsequently attended Cornell University where she graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Biology in 1980. She attended SUNY at Stony Brook and obtained a Masters in Environmental Engineering in 1983.

Ms. Coveney is also a member of the North Shore Science & Technology Center Advisory Committee and of the Nature Conservancy.

NEXT ISSUE: Jane Alcorn, Vice-President and Christopher Wesselborg, Secretary

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President's Message

By Carol Davis-Wiebelt

A Great Day to be Outdoors...

Friends of Science East board members joined the Rocky Point Revitalization and Beautification Committee (RPR&BC) on Saturday, June 24th to celebrate the grand opening of the Rocky Point Park and Preserve. FSE was on hand to meet the public and talk with them about the nature trail developed by our organization and about our plans for the Wardenclyffe site. We met many interesting people, including a woman who used to work for AGFA-Geveart (the property owners).

We also spoke with many local elected of ficials including Suffolk County Executive, Robert Gaffney. He was very supportive, saying he had heard of our project from Legislator Martin Haley and wanted to know more. Gaffney has offered to help set up a meeting with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding the clean-up and possible uses/restrictions on the site after the clean-up has been completed. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to find out more about potential use/restrictions on the property after the clean-up which may affect our plans.

Speaking of opportunities, the nature trail was a great one. We were happy to be involved and our work has been well received. In fact, the DEC, who owns the land the park is on, was so pleased with the nature trail that they have recommended that it be expanded. The RPR&BC has asked us to continue our involvement under their sponsorship. Two ideas being discussed at this time are additional signs showing pictures of interesting flora and facilitating the replanting of native plants from other areas on Long Island. There is also a plan afoot to place bluebird houses along the perimeter of the park to encourage nesting by New York's state bird, a rare site in this area. We are looking forward to this and other activities over the remainder of 1999.

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