This paper examines how various private patrons intervened to support research in gravitational physics from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. Our analysis centers primarily on two wealthy and eccentric businessmen, Roger Babson and Agnew Bahnson, and their efforts to galvanize the study of gravitation. Not only did these patrons provide generous funding at a time when the subject of gravitation received few other institutional sources of support; they also helped to knit together a research community. Moreover, we trace the evolution of their patronage efforts, as scientists and patrons revised their arrangements to address what came to seem weak or ineffective features of the original efforts. These unusual philanthropic efforts played an outsized role in spurring what has been called the renaissance of general relativity during the middle decades of the twentieth century.
The Price of Gravity: Private Patronage and the Transformation of Gravitational Physics after World War II
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David Kaiser, Dean Rickles; The Price of Gravity: Private Patronage and the Transformation of Gravitational Physics after World War II. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 1 June 2018; 48 (3): 338–379. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2018.48.3.338
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