Honoring the Memory and Supporting the Future for Tesla Science Center
Op-ed Written by Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-01)
Built upon historic grounds in Shoreham, New York, by one of the most brilliant minds ever known, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is an inspirational museum on the verge of a rebirth that not only holds a rich history, but also great potential. Serving as the home for both Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island is a thriving community for science and technology, and supporting the Center’s mission is vital to continuing this great tradition.
Understanding the history behind this site and its creator is an important part of comprehending the need to support its mission. Nikola Tesla was one of the most brilliant scientists and inventors in human history whose legacy is sadly unknown by far too many. Tesla revolutionized the way we use electricity, making possible many of the basic necessities we take for granted every single day. His work has resulted in incredible advancements in radar and X-ray technology, energy, remote control and so much more. To continue these groundbreaking achievements, Tesla built the Wardenclyffe laboratory in 1901. Sadly, financial hardships and patent issues prevented this visionary from being able to conduct significant testing before much of the equipment was confiscated by creditors, forcing Tesla to abandon the project altogether, unrealized in its potential.
Multiple companies came to own the grounds in the years to follow, but it was ultimately left dormant in 1987, with some believing it would be demolished. However, Friends of Science East, Inc. saw an opportunity to make proper use of the site and began talks with Suffolk County, Shoreham Village, and other entities in an effort to acquire the property. In 2012, an internet fundraising campaign, which raised $1.37 million, resulted in a successful purchase of this amazing property. Recognizing that Tesla never received the respect he had more than earned, this campaign sought to embrace this pioneer’s legacy and give him his long overdue recognition.
Now, over a century later, we have the opportunity to follow through on this untapped potential and turn these grounds into a site of scientific exploration and discovery once again. This effort will convert these grounds into a science and technology museum that features a number of programs and exhibits, including lectures from visiting professors and experts, mentoring for children, an exhibit dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of Tesla himself, and even possible incubator space. An education firmly rooted in the sciences has become essential in the 21st century, and encouraging Americans to pursue the paths which lead to high paying jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields begins with supporting facilities like this one.
In April, I had the pleasure of visiting the Center to tour the facility and meet with its leaders. Last month, I also attended a great summer exhibit for the Center in Stony Brook. Enriching scientific discovery in our district should be an all hands on deck community effort. Just as we must support STEM majors for university students, allowing our youth to gain an interest in the sciences from a young age is absolutely crucial, and the Tesla Science Center will provide this critical resource.
The Center holds so much potential for Long Island and our scientific community, and we now have the opportunity to revive this site so that it may serve our district for generations to come. Nikola Tesla revolutionized society as we know it, and now, in 2017, we have the ability to fulfill his unrealized legacy at a time when education in the sciences is all the more imperative. I am proud to do my part in Congress to secure science funding for our district. We must never allow our children to lose their love of learning, and aiding the Tesla Science Center to become a hotspot for scientific exploration must be front and center in this mission.
Congressman Lee Zeldin, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Financial Services Committee, represents the First Congressional District of New York.