Physics comes full circle for Walter Massey
December 28th, 2017
Walter Massey, the board chair of City Colleges of Chicago, visited Sweden earlier this month to attend the awards ceremony honoring the Nobel Prize for physics.
It was another in one of many career milestones for Massey.
He’s a physicist who in the 1990s worked as the director of the National Science Foundation, the government agency that supports scientific research. At the time, Massey championed a controversial $205 million research project that would lead to the discovery that led to this year’s Nobel Prize. That research found gravitational ripples were created by the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion light-years away. The research helps better explain the cosmos.
Massey, who’s called the discovery “mind-boggling,” even testified before Congress in 1991 to get funding for the huge observatories that detected the waves.
“It was hard to say what we might find if we funded” the project, Massey told me a few years ago. “But the more fundamental thing is that, as human beings, we want to learn as much as we can about who we are and where we are in the universe.”
Interestingly, it was Albert Einstein who 100 years ago predicted the discovery.
It was a natural that when researchers received the Nobel earlier this month, Massey would be on hand, too.
While in Sweden, he also led a discussion with City Colleges students via Skype. As interested as they were in the research and ripples, students really wanted to know how Massey came to be part of the project.
Lots of hard work.