Leonardo Torres y Quevedo
- Category : Engineer-Mechanical
- Type : GP
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 4
Spanish civil engineer and mathematician.
During his lifetime Torres-Quevedo was herald for a variety of inventions in the fields of computing and civil engineering.
His first major invention came in 1887 when he built the funicular at Niagara Falls. The funicular, or Whirlpool Aero Car, is a railway that allows people to be transported up steep hillsides. In the case of Niagara Falls, the funicular takes visitors across the Fall's famed Whirlpool.
To power the Niagara Falls funicular Torres-Quevedo developed an electronic way to pull the train using ropes. The man's invention worked much the same way an elevator pulls a box up a building. The Niagara Falls funicular still stands today. Nearly a century after Torres-Quevedo built it.
Even more amazing than the Funicular is Torres-Quevedo's creation of the world's first chess playing machine. "El Ajedrecista", or The Chess Playing Machine, was an algorithmically powered machine that could play a game of chess with a human.
The machine used mechanical arms to move its chess pieces and detected its opponent's moves using electrical magnets. El Ajecdrecista deputed at the 1914 Paris World Fair and was herald as a marvel of human engineering ) and marked the beginnings of research into the development of artificial intelligence
He married in 1885, and had eight children.
In 1899 he moved to Madrid and became involved in that city's cultural life. From the work he carried out in these years, the Athenæum of Madrid created the Laboratory of Applied Mechanics of which he was named director. The Laboratory dedicated itself to the manufacture of scientific instruments. That same year, he entered the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences in Madrid, of which entity he was president in 1910. Among the works of the Laboratory, the cinematography of Gonzalo Brañas and the X-rayspectrograph of Cabrera and Costa are notable.
In 1916 King Alfonso XIII of Spain bestowed the Echegaray Medal upon him; in 1918, he declined the offer of the position of Minister of Development. In 1920, he entered the Royal Spanish Academy, and became a member of the department of Mechanics of the Paris Academy of Science. In 1922 the Sorbonne named him an Honorary Doctor and, in 1927, he was named one of the twelve associated members of the Academy.
Torres died in Madrid, on 18 December 1936.