The Engineer Who Spent His Life Fighting Gravity
Besides all the beneficial aspects of gravity that help us every day, gravity is kind of inconvenience when you think about it... it means that we have to exert a massive amount of energy to get places. It causes things to fall to earth, and it caused Isaac Newton to get a headache from that apple that hit him.
In fact, one engineer hated gravity so much that he devoted his entire life to fighting it. The name of that man is Roger Babson.
Who was Roger Babson?
Babson was born in 1875 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and later went to MIT to earn an engineering degree. He became so successful in his early career that, within a decade, he became a multimillionaire. He attained such status through his wealth that he eventually became one of the leading economists of the time, writing more than 40 books on the topic. Babson even founded a College in Massachusetts that is one of the most prestigious entrepreneurship colleges in the US.
Babson strongly believed that Sir Isaac Newton's law of gravitation, as well as action and reaction, affected not only physics but the stock market. He utilized principles around this odd viewpoint to predict the crash of October 1929 and, subsequently, the great depression in the US.
His pseudo admiration for gravity eventually turned into a problematic relationship. He is quoted in an essay as saying, “Gradually, I found that ‘old man Gravity’ is not only directly responsible for millions of deaths each year but also for millions of accidents. Broken hips and other broken bones, as well as numerous circulatory, intestinal, and other internal troubles, are directly due to the people's inability to counteract gravity at a critical moment.”
The engineer's grudge against gravity started to form.
That grudge eventually turned into passionate disdain when in 1947, he lost his grandson by drowning in 1947. Later that year, he founded the Gravity Research Foundation to fight back.
The foundation's sole purpose was to invigorate new research into the subject of gravity by awarding grants to those who submitted proposals. Babson's core intentions were to find someone who could create an anti-gravity device.
Initially, the scientific community didn't take much interest in an organization that wanted to fight a core physical principle, so eventually, Babson reworded his ideology to focus on "understanding gravity." That goal was more politically friendly at the time.
The Gravity Research Foundation
The Gravity Research Foundation held an annual essay competition that drew the world's top minds like Stephen Hawking, mathematician Roger Penrose, and even Nobel Prize laureate George Smoot (cousin to Oliver).
The Gravity Research Foundation, headed by Babson, ended up giving grants to 13 colleges and universities in the US in the 1960s. The grants came with stone monuments to remind the students of the grant and its intention.
However, these illustrious grants sat unused for decades because they were to be strictly used for anti-gravity research. Most institutions had no idea how to spend money on that, so eventually, after Babson's death, most colleges used the money for other purposes.
Babson spent his life and most of his money devoted to fighting the law of gravity. He nobly wanted to find a "cure" for gravity to save millions of lives. While most universities didn't use the grants strictly for anti-gravity research, the work of one university is noteworthy: Tufts University.
They used the grant to fund Tufts Institute of Cosmology, where students and faculty researched theoretical physics and cosmology. Many research projects focus on false vacuums and repulsive gravity, some of the world's leading "anti-gravity" research.
Roger Babson's fight against gravity lives on ever so slightly at Tufts, and the scientific community has been furthered as a whole through the Gravity Research Foundations grants and initiatives over the years. And that's how one engineer's vendetta against a core physics principle led to millions of dollars directed to scientific research and the creation of a foundation dedicated to anti-gravity research.