Action Institute Essay Competition

In 1949, the Theory of Gravity was largely a neglected area of research in the scientific community. He wanted to energize it. He consulted his close associate, George M. Rideout, then President of Babson Reports, how best to proceed to encourage the study of gravity. After some consideration, George Rideout advised him to start a Foundation and to solicit ideas by offering awards for the best ideas submitted. Roger Babson accepted the advice and the Gravity Research Foundation was formed.

Babson’s main interest was to stimulate interest in the study of Gravity. He hoped that ultimately unique and practical applications would be found. His views were reflected by the wording in the announcement of the first essay competition that said the awards were to be given for suggestions for anti-gravity devices, for partial insulators, reflectors, or absorbers of gravity, or for some substance that can be rearranged by gravity to throw off heat - although not specifically mentioned in the announcement, he was thinking of absorbing or reflecting gravity waves. The wording was unusual and the scientific community responded with a resounding lack of enthusiasm. George Rideout recognized that the wording discouraged the best scientists from submitting essays. He succeeded in convincing Babson that, if one understood completely the Theory of Gravity, one would understand its possible applications. He was able to modify the statement in the annual announcement of the essay competition so that it has been for many years, and almost from the beginning, stated that the awards are given for essays on the subject of gravitation, its theory, application, or effects.

It is amusing to speculate what Babson would think were he alive today. The theory of Gravity is one of the more lively areas of research in theoretical physics. He would recognize that he erred in not thinking boldly enough. Instead of terrestrial applications, he should have thought of cosmological; instead of static fields, he should have thought of dynamic and radiative effects. Anti-gravity he would now know was associated with dark energy, rearranging matter to produce heat he would associate with Hawking radiation from black holes.  He would be doubly excited to know that gravitational radiation has been observed and that a new window for cosmological events has been opened. By any measure, he would feel vindicated in his judgment and satisfied that indeed the study of gravity was no longer being neglected, and it is likely that when gravitational radiation is observed, absorption by other galaxies will also be observed.

Gravity Waves

One of Roger Babson’s dreams has come to reality. Gravitational radiation has been observed. Another dreamer of gravity waves was the American physicist, Joseph Weber. Weber had won the third award in the Gravity Research Foundation essay competition of 1958 and the first award in 1959 for suggesting the possibility of observing gravity waves and describing a method of detecting them. He proceeded to invent and to build a gravity wave detector. After the construction of the detector and operating it for a period of time he thought and announced that he had detected gravity waves coming to us from outer space. His announcement was greeted with widespread acclaim and great interest. Unfortunately, he had misinterpreted his observations and had, in fact, not detected them. But his failed experiment inspired a new generation of physicists to do more sensitive experiments and the “LIGO” program to detect them was started. About a half century after its start, in a dramatic ceremony held on February 11, 2016, the LIGO team announced the observation of gravity waves produced by the merging of two black holes into one. At the announcement ceremony, the LIGO founders acknowledged their debt to Weber for having inspired them.

Essay Competition

Rosemont College undergraduate students are invited to submit essays exploring ethical issues in immigration. A $300 cash prize will be awarded to the author of the winning submission.


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Competition Description

Essays must address moral considerations relevant to debates about migration and immigration. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:


  • The complexities of migration and immigration and how they bear on ethical considerations
  • The impact of migration and immigration on sending, transit, and receiving countries
  • The ethical obligations of countries to receive migrants and immigrants
  • The use of immigration as a political tool, whether to denounce human suffering or to promote national security, in order to gain political capital
  • Impact of global economic and environmental interdependence on migration


  • All undergraduate students at Rosemont College registered during the spring semester in which the competition is held are eligible, including those who will be studying abroad.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submissions must be between 2,000 and 2,500 words (approximately 8-10 double-spaced pages.
  • Submissions must be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced with 1” margins, and numbered pages. Title and reference pages are not included in the numbering.
  • The title page must include only the essay title. The author’s name should not appear anywhere in the essay.
  • Submissions must include a reference page and proper in-text source documentation (MLA, APA, or Chicago styles).
  • Submissions derived from current or past coursework are acceptable as long as they are approved by the faculty member for whom the work was originally submitted. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain and document the faculty member’s approval of the submission.
  • Students are to submit their papers to Dr. Alan A. Preti by March 23, 2018 via e-mail at No late submissions will be accepted.
  • For additional information, contact Dr. Alan A. Preti, co-director, Institute for Ethical Leadership and Social Responsibility at or 610-527-0200 ext. 2345


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