“The final objective of a man is to fully conquer the material world and subjugate the natural forces to the human needs. This is a difficult task of an inventor who often is neither understood nor recognized. He therefore finds a huge compensation in the joy which awakens in him the creative work, as well as in the knowledge that he belongs to the specifically privileged group of people, without whom the mankind would have disappeared a long time ago in the severe struggle with unmerciful forces of the nature”
Ceremony of the Society for establishing the Nikola Tesla Institute
(80th Nikola Tesla anniversary) - Kolarac University, Belgrade
May 26th - 30th 1936.
"Nikola Tesla” society was founded long ago, namely in the year 1936, even during the lifetime of Nikola Tesla, as an association aimed at getting familiar with the life and work of the ingenius researcher, at popularization of his creations by means of various forms of activities, as well as at contributing to the development and improvement of general scientific and technical culture. The first President of the Society was the outstanding scientist Dr. Bogdan Gavrilovic, President of the Serbian Academy of Sciences.
The first great manifestation of the Society was held on 10 th of July 1936 on the occasion of Tesla's 80 th birthday, at the Kolarac University in Belgrade . The participants were numerous, the most important people in the field of science and culture, coming both from the country and abroad. This was followed by the edition of an extensive monograph on that significant event in our science. Later on, year after year, the Society has continued to organize celebrations of Tesla's occasional jubilees by means of journals, daily press etc. Abundance of material following these manifestations encouraged the Society to publish its journal entitled “Science and Technique”. Basic concept of the journal was established in accordance with Tesla's view of life and world, as well as of science itself; multidisciplinary, internationality, universality. After the first few issues, the journal was forbidden in the year 1941.
During the World War II, the war cataclysm and occupation of the country discontinued all activities of the “Nikola Tesla” Society. After liberation of the country, the Society renewed its activities of the “Nikola Tesla” Society. After liberation of the country, the Society renewed its activities upon the same principles, while expanding its objectives, program, forms and contents of activities. The Society became a general Yugoslav movement with a task to inform domestic public and professionals about Tesla's contribution to science, and to popularize Tesla's example of creative work, devoting its activities to popularization of science and technique and upgrading of the scientific and technical culture among all society levels. The scientists gathered around the “Nikola Tesla” Society, such as: Milutin Milankovic, Slavko Boksan, Bogdan Gavrilovic, Pavle Savic, Branko Zezelj and many others, were a guarantee that the established objectives would be successfully implemented, thusproviding the safe future of the Society. The basic organ of the Society – the journal “Science and Technique”, was published again, but in a new form and entitled “TESLA”, having an expanded aim: popularization of science.
Little after renewal of its work, the Society undertook an initiative on the international level to name one electric unit after Nikola Tesla. This initiative was accepted in the year 1954 at the CIGRE Congress in Philadelphia and the unit of magnetic induction in the International System of Measurment Units (SI) was named “Tesla” (T). finally, name of Nikola Tesla was meritoriously placed among the eminent names of Coulomb, Ampere, Faraday, Hertz, Maxwell in the electrical engineering practice of the world and in the school text-books.
“Nikola Tesla” Society for the Promotion of Scientific Knowledge also initiated the foundation of the “Nikola Tesla” Museum in Belgrade , in which the legacy of Nikola Tesla is preserved (his personal belongings, exhibits, technical devices).
In order to popularize science and technique, in the year 1953, the Society took over 200 short scientific and technical films from the Technical Assistance Programme, which were then distributed for more than 100 film shows in several hundreds of schools, factories and other various institutions. That contributed to affirmation of the film as an important and modern means of information and as a means of increasing technical culture of masses. Under the auspices of the Society, the International Scientific and Technical Film Festival was organized in the year 1956, as the first one of that kind in the world. At the film shows of the Festival, at the time when we did not have television yet, our audience had a chance to see, by means of motion pictures, the first satellites in cosmos and the secrets of the micro and macro worlds of our environment. The Festival used to be held biannually, gathering hundreds of films from all over the world, mainly from the most scientifically and economically developed countries.
The festival itself was followed by a series of other activities: symposiums, workshops, international discussions and lectures, specialized film exhibitions and national scientific film evenings of individual countries ( France , USSR , USA , India , Czechoslovakia etc.). After the main film shows in Belgrade , the films were shown in capitals of republics and provinces and, apart from that, in more than 60 cities all over the country. Around three million mostly young people saw these films in various cinema halls, and many millions saw them on television. In this way, the “Nikola Tesla' Society made it possible for Yugoslavia to get the latest results of the scientific and technological progress of the world in the most effective form for the human psyche at the minimum cost to the society, thus considerably contributing to the modern education and encouragement of the creative work in the new technological era. The last, 16 th International Festival of the Scientific Film took place in the year 1990. Unfortunately, after secession of some republics of former Yugoslavia , and after the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council against Yugoslavia , there were no possibilities to organize the Festival.
Together with the International Festival of Scientific Film, Beginning with the year 1973, the Society introduced as a new form of its activities, popularization of science and technique by means of tribunal discussions. Once a month, current topics in all scientific fields used to be discussed, with participation of a large number of foreign and domestic scientists and experts. These tribunes reached a considerable affirmation in the broader public. They became gatherings of people of various profiles and age who were particularly interested in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to the scientific and social phenomena. They discussed the current topics, most often in biology, atomics, energy, environment, space research and other scientific fields. Proceedings of the most interesting scientific tribunes were published in the separate publication “100 Scientific Tribunes” which was published by the Society in the year 1989. the Yugoslav Scientific Tribune, being of a general Yugoslav character, was founded within Society. In a few years of existence it achieved extraordinary success. Within the edition “ Yugoslavia in Development” three monographers were published: “Energy and Development”, “Food and Development” and “Technology and Development” – with participation of about 700 scientists and experts from all over the former Yugoslavia .
“Nikola Tesla” Society participated in the organization of a series of other manifestations aiming at popularization of science. The most important activities were “Gathering of Science” and “Science for the Workers” (1968). In addition, the Society was the founder of the Yugoslav Coordinating Committee for Studies and Celebrations of the Work and of the Name of Nikola Tesla, aiming at getting together all organizations and institutions named after Nikola Tesla, as well as all other interested organizations which would cherish and preserve the memory of the great scientist. The Yugoslav Coordinating Committee was significantly engaged in the construction of the Memorial park in Tesla's native village Smiljani. After separation of some former Yugoslav republics and the civil war which followed, the monument was regrettably, considerably damaged. In cooperation with the Yugoslav Association of Electrical Industry, the Society initiateda good number of activities oriented to popularization of the name of Nikola Tesla. It was decided that the 10 th of July, the birthday of Nikola Tesla, would be the Day of Electrical Industry of Yugoslavia. The largest thermal power plant in Yugoslavia was named after Nikola Tesla, as well as the 400kV highest electro-energetic system of Yugoslavia , connected to the electroenergetic systems of neighboring countries and to the large European electroenergetic interconnections.
Within the framework of the international activities oriented towards popularization of science, name and creative work of Nikola Tesla, the Society achieved significant results. Apart from the International Scientific Film Festival, these activities also included celebrations of Tesla's jubilee anniversaries (which are well known and recognized in the world, with participation of eminent scientists from all over the world), visits, study tours of delegations, publishing of series of publications, organization of scientific meetings etc. In recognition of its activities, the Society was awarded the Lomonosov Medal. Establishment of the International Award “Nikola Tesla” takes a particular place in the framework of international activities of the Society. The Award was established in the year 1975 in cooperation with and in agreement of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which has over 300,000 members. The Award is granted for the highest achievements in the field of electrical engineering. The Award is handed over at the Annual Session of the IEEE Assembly in the USA . On this occasion, “Nikola Tesla” Gold Plaque is granted to the laureate by the Society, whiles a Gold Coin with Tesla's portrait on it is awarded by the Yugoslav Electrical Industry Association. The first Award was granted in the year 1976. The sanctions that were imposed on our country seriously jeopardized this international activity of the Society.
In the year 1979, upon the initiative of the Society, an old wish came true by establishment of the “Nikola Tesla” Foundation which encourages and awards the best scientists and researchers in the fields of natural and technical sciences, particularly in the field of Nikola Tesla's activities. The Foundation established the “Nikola Tesla” Award which is granted every year at the ceremonial meeting.
In the recent years, popularization of science and technique has been carried out by means of multimedia. This tendency has been accepted by the “Nikola Tesla” Society as well. Celebrations of anniversaries of our and world famous scientists are followed by production of films and TV serials, slides and CDs about the life and work of Nikola Tesla, Mihajlo Pupin and Rudjer Boskovic, as well as with publishing of numerous books, brochures and monographers. The “Nikola Tesla” Society has taken a significant part in it.
Before secession of former republics of Yugoslavia activities of the Society were carried out through republican and provincial committees under the same name – “Nikola Tesla”. Having in mind the new circumstances, reorganization of the Society from the organizational point of view was undertaken on the 28 th of December 1993, keeping the already established objectives, programme and contents of the Society's activities. “Nikola Tesla” Society operates today as the united organization at the whole territory of Serbia and Montenegro . Under the conditions resulting from the imposed international sanctions, the Society oriented its activities within the country frontiers, trying to implement the established objectives and programme of work in cooperation with the interested scientific, educational, cultural, economic and information institutions. Comprehensive moral and material support to the Society, without which its existence and activities would not have been possible under the new circumstances, has been provided by the ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of Serbia . Continuing the tradition almost six decades long, the “Nikola Tesla” Society will do its best to make it possible for the people to get acquainted with the heritage and with the history of science, so as to actually understand all the greatness of our age.