Keene Chautauqua 2019: Innovators and Inventors, Tesla and Lamarr: Makers of Modern Life

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Keene Chautauqua 2019 features first-person performances of two inventors, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and Hedy Lamarr (1914–2000), by scholar/actors Douglas Mishler and Judith Kalaora. Despite more than 700 inventions and 100 patents in his lifetime, Tesla (Elon Musk’s company is named after him) was never financially successful. But he was prescient. Tesla imagined not only the practical applications of his inventions but how his designs could change the future. One of his predictions was “the acquisition of new fields of endeavor by women,” which would be made possible through wireless technology. In 1942, near the end of Tesla’s life, Austrian-born actress Hedy Lamarr, herself a hobbyist inventor, would receive her only patent – for frequency hopping, a method of transmitting radio signals by rapidly switching a carrier among many frequency channels. She kept inventing in old age: from a fluorescent dog collar, to modifications for the supersonic Concorde airliner, to a new kind of stoplight.

This evening of living history caps a series of Keene Public Library summer programs exploring the lives of Tesla and Lamarr and the topic of innovation and invention, including a film series, Ted Talk discussions, and conversations about the books Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes and Tesla, Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney. Historian, museum curator, and Humanities to Go presenter Carrie Brown, Ph.D. is the project humanities expert. For more information, contact Gail Zachariah at 352-0157.

Friday, August 2, 6:00-9:00 pm (Pre-show music at 6:00 pm; Chautauqua performances start at 6:30 pm)
Heberton Hall, Keene Public Library, 60 Winter Street