~e; Marconi to the moon and back

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Wed, 12 Dec 2001 12:29:47 -0600

  [quoting a political gemstone: "We must remember the first big protagonist of
  globalization was Italian, Marconi himself," Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi said...]

Here's to Signore Marconi

Reuters 	6:39 a.m. Dec. 12, 2001 PST

ROME -- Italy, which denied Guglielmo Marconi funding during his
lifetime, honored its greatest 20th-century inventor on Wednesday,
100 years after he created radio with three faint clicks heard across
the Atlantic.

With the one experiment, Marconi proved that messages could be sent
over thousands of miles, laying the foundation for modern-day radio
and later the digital age.

To celebrate the event, scientists in Italy beamed a message from
near his birthplace of Bologna to the world's amateur radio operators
by using the moon as a satellite dish, and politicians paid homage at
a gala in Rome.

"We must remember the first big protagonist of globalization was
Italian, Marconi himself," Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said
during a ceremony at the Post and Telecommunications Museum that was
attended by Marconi's daughter Elettra.

Communications Minister Maurizio Gasparri hailed Marconi as "an
Italian myth and authentic global village hero." He said radio
remained a symbol of liberty, as shown in Kabul when the first thing
residents did after the fall of the hard-line Taliban government was
turn on the radio.

Marconi, whose father was a wealthy Italian landowner and mother from
Ireland's Jameson whisky distillery family, was refused funding for
his experiments by Italy, making many of his discoveries in England.

In 1896, he filed a patent for a system of telegraphy there and in
1897 founded the British Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company,
transmitting messages over short distances for the British Royal
family and military.

In 1901, the 27-year-old Marconi, educated privately in science after
failing entrance exams at an Italian university, decided to put his
theories to the test and attempt a trans-Atlantic wireless

On Dec. 12, shortly after midday, and struggling through strong wind
and static, he heard the three clicks of the letter S in Morse Code
that marked the birth of the radio.

"The receiver on the table before me was very crude," Marconi later
said. "No valves, no amplifiers, not even a crystal. I was at last on
the point of putting the correctness of all my beliefs to the test."

The radio signals traveled 2,200 miles from a transmitter Marconi had
built in Cornwall to a blustery cliff on the Newfoundland coast,
where Marconi received them with his assistant, George Kemp, proving
that the curvature of the earth would not impede radio signals.

The first transmissions were in Morse Code. Speech transmission was
not common until after the First World War.

To demonstrate the advance of technology, scientists near Bologna in
central Italy were to transmit throughout the day a microwave
message, including recordings of Marconi, by bouncing the
transmission off the moon's surface and back to earth.

In 1909, "the father of radio" received the Nobel Prize for Physics
jointly with German physicist Karl Ferdinand Braun.

In 1912, distress signals sent over his system helped save hundreds
of passengers from the sinking Titanic.

The company that grew out of Marconi's work, British telecoms
equipment maker Marconi Plc, has not fared as well as Marconi's
invention, losing over five billion pounds ($7 billion) in the first
half of this year.

Marconi died in Rome in 1937, one of the most celebrated men of his
age, bestowed with honors at home and abroad.

Copyright  2001 Reuters Limited.
Copyright  1994-2001 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.

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