Mihajlo Pupin, a world renowned scientist who won the Pulitzer prize and significantly improved the telephone technology, arrived to the United States with only five cents in his pocket.
The award for the contribution to the national interests of the United States is named after a Serb.
Mihajlo Pupin was a renowned scientist and the first Serb who won the Pulitzer Prize.
He was among the founders of an organization that later grew into the US National Aeronautics and
Space Administration – NASA. A Moon crater was also named after him.
But it is less known that he, as a close friend of Woodrow Wilson, is responsible for the determination of the borders of Yugoslavia after the Salonika front breakthrough and the end of World War I.
After “the Great War” Romania claimed the territory of Banat and the Allies were prepared to make that exception.
Pupin contacted the president of the United States and probably used his influence – he presented the data about his birth place, the village Idvor, populated by Serbs, which would now belong to Romania.
The famous scientist had always been known as a great patriot and Wilson concluded that Pupin’s birth place couldn’t be outside the borders of his country. Banat remained in Serbia, and Pupin returned to his scientific work.
In 1874 Mihajlo Pupin arrived to the United States with only five cents in his pocket. He spent it on a piece of prune pie and was left penniless and alone in a country he didn’t know and among people whose language he didn’t speak. Two and a half decades later he became a world renowned scientist, rich and influential.
Mihajlo Pupin won the Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography “From pastures to scientist” and became the first Serb who was awarded this prize.
From the family of illiterate parents in a little village in Serbia to the PhD in New York; Pupin’s life path led him from difficult handwork, constant learning and specializations, to the professor position at the Columbia University, to becoming the first Serbian diplomat in the United States and a person after whom a crater on the Moon was named.
The patent named “Pupin coils” brought international fame to Mihajlo Pupin – twenty years after Alexander Graham Bell, Pupin patented the invention that perfected the telephone and made long- distance calls without noise possible. This patent brought him great wealth.
He used it to establish scholarship funds for gifted youngsters at home, and he opened foundations and museums. In his lifetime he patented another 23 inventions, most of them are still used today – two out of three parts of each electronic device: rectifier, oscillator and amplifier, are Pupin’s patents.
Mihajlo Pupin was remembered by his contemporaries as a diligent and hardworking man, a man who achieved everything on his own. Although already famous and wealthy, the scientist visited his estate and worked the land with farmers, and in his spare time he read and collected the works of authors from the Balkans.
Fewer and fewer people believe that only thanks to our own diligence and effort we can succeed and achieve a lot. Not so long ago, a young man from Idvor reached far and conquered the world. Once he published a text titled “What can dreamers achieve” in a youth magazine.
If they believe and never give up – a lot. Mihajlo Pupin is a proof.