Force
Forces and Motion

... and those Newton inspired

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

A curious addendum to Newton’s story is the fate of his manuscripts, many of which were eventually acquired by Roger Babson. Babson was an MIT-educated engineer, who credited the successful investments during the 1929 crash that made him a rich man, to his application of Newton’s third law to the stock market...

 

A curious addendum to Newton’s story is the fate of his manuscripts, many of which were eventually acquired by Roger Babson. Babson was an MIT-educated engineer, who credited the successful investments during the 1929 crash that made him a rich man, to his application of Newton’s third law to the stock market. He believed that Newton had saved him from financial ruin and so set about purchasing Newton’s original manuscripts. In 1948 Babson set up the Gravity Research Foundation to find ways to develop ‘antigravity’. He published an essay ‘Gravity – our number one enemy’ in which he described his sister’s death by drowning and his own battle with tuberculosis in childhood, and concluded: ‘“Old man Gravity” is not only directly responsible for millions of deaths each year, but also for millions of accidents’. His foundation held its inaugural meeting in 1951 and attendees were provided with special gravity chairs to aid circulation and Babson promoted an ‘anti-gravity’ pill. One of the financial backers of Babson’s Foundation was the inventor and industrialist Clarence Birdseye. Babson donated money to several universities to fund research into anti-gravity devices and his donations are commemorated at Tufts University by a monument inscribed with the words:

This monument has been erected by the Gravity Research Foundation Roger W. Babson Founder It is to remind students of the blessings forthcoming when a semi-insulator is discovered in order to harness gravity as a free power and reduce airplane accidents 1961

A Tufts tradition has developed around the memorial: when a student earns their PhD in the department of cosmology (established with Babson’s money) they kneel in front of the stone and their dissertation advisor drops an apple on their head.

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