The dragon that reaches out and grabs you

Roger Babson is the founder of the Gravity Research Foundation, an organization with the stated purpose of studying, understanding and, ultimately, harnessing the force of gravity. It was the childhood drowning of his older sister in a river near Gloucester, Massachusetts that sparked Babson’s life-long interest in finding a way to control the effects of gravity. So motivated was he, that Babson wrote an essay titled “Gravity – Our Enemy No. 1.” Speaking of his sister in the essay he noted, “She was unable to fight gravity, which came up and seized her like a dragon and brought her to the bottom.”

Lest you get the impression that Roger Babson was an unconventional man on the fringes of society, you should know a few things about the man and his life.

Babson was a graduate of MIT, an author of over 40 books and a one-time presidential candidate. He was an inventor, a successful entrepreneur and proffered many theories pertaining to business. A devotee of Isaac Newton’s laws of action and reaction, Babson credited Newton with helping him to become an astute investor. So astute was Babson, that he accurately predicted the stock market crash of 1929, though few heeded his warnings.

Having amassed quite a fortune, Babson founded the Gravity Research Foundation, in part, as a way of repaying Newton for his valuable work in the field. But what, you might ask, does an institute in Massachusetts that studies the effects of gravity have to do with Atlanta?

The answer is more simple than you might think because, as with Babson’s sister, Atlanta has felt the pull of the “dragon that reached out and brought her to the bottom,” as you will see in this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

Lance Russell is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and media communicator who, for over three decades, has been entrusted by clients to tell their stories. A seasoned producer with an innate ability to cut to the heart of the matter, Lance’s instincts are tailor-made for today’s “media bite” culture. Brief, poignant and always entertaining, Lance’s current passion is bringing Atlanta’s colorful and inspiring past to life with his “rest of the story” style video series, Stories of Atlanta. “History’s best communicators,” says Lance, “have always been storytellers. It’s in our DNA. ‘Once upon a time’ is how we got to where we are now.”

2 replies
  1. John Ingersoll says:

    The Foundation thought Atlanta would be especially interested in the pernicious effects of gravity after the terrible 1962 plane crash at Orly that killed over 100 Atlantans. I think it went first to Georgia Tech, who rebuffed them, and then to Emory, with the proposal of erecting a monument to anti-gravity. Jake Ward, who was then interim president of Emory, knew Babson was a philanthropist, and cannily decided to accept the gift in the hope that he would follow up with more gifts to Emory. It never happened, but as far as I know the monument, looking like a tombstone, is still on the campus near the Physics Building.Report

    Reply
  2. Lance Russell says:

    John Ingersoll John thans for the additional information.  Don’t know where they teach Physics at Emory but we found the monument behind the Math and Science building.  An interesting sidebar is that Babson, in exchange for universities accepting the monument, offered a $12,000 stock option in the American Agricultural Chemical Company with the requirement that the stock be sold 30 to 45 years later.  Some of the colleges opted to take a cash option of $5,000 instead of the stock.  By the time the stock was to have been cashed in, AACC had been purchased by Dupont making the original $12,000’s worth over 1 million dollars.  Don’t know if Emory took the stock or the cash.Report

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