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Mission of Gravity

2011-03-17 22:48:45.551515+00 by petronius 4 comments

Many times an otherwise intelligent person will develop a crackpot idea and let it ruin him. And sometimes not. An interesting story from Popular Science about the founder of the Gravity Research Foundation, Babson. A self-made millionaire, in his later years he was so grief stricken by the drowning deaths of two relatives that he determined to defeat gravity, perhaps by supporting the development of a "semi-conductor of gravity" (sounds a bit like Cavorite). Alas, they never made it, but the Foundation continues as a distinguised venue for research into the ubiquitous force of nature. And also some odd, but appropriate rituals at Tufts University.

[ related topics: Nature and environment Education ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-03-19 18:55:14.810398+00 by: Dan Lyke

It sounds like the foundation now is actually quite a positive influential force, that it's been guided to make the $4k annual prize actually have some prestige! So, yeah, sounds like the foundation has actually done some real good.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-03-19 18:28:08.994713+00 by: Travis

I wonder if anything useful could come out of the foundation - I mean, just because the original idea was inspired perhaps by senility doesn't mean the scientists now aren't doing anything useful.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-03-19 16:59:21.14456+00 by: petronius

This happens all the time. what is also fascinating is when the promoters follow the false trail right into the abyss. The Chicago Tribune has been following the story of a prominant cancer researcher who claimed that a retro-virus was the cause of that most elusive disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She recommends people take anti-retrovirals. Alas, nobody can seem to duplicate the research, but she has since doubled down and claimed the retrovirus also causes prostate cancer and other disorders. When somebody prsents a paper at an Autism Now! convention, it isn't a good sign, but rather a surrender to crackpottery.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-03-19 16:16:59.440449+00 by: Dan Lyke

In my looking at the future of transportation systems, I've been chasing a number of technologies to see what sorts of propulsion and energy systems we might evolve to. In this list are a tremendous number of technologies where very economically successful people have invested in some utterly crackpot ideas.

My guess is that in much the same way that folks with money seem to fall for 419 scams, there's a willingness to accept new ideas and riskier propositions. But there's also a tremendous ability to want to believe things. Pons & Fleischmann aren't the only people to have deluded themselves into thinking that one phenomenon was evidence for another process.