A Scientific Peak

In his new book A Scientific Peak, Joseph Bassi chronicles  Boulder’s meteoric rise to eventually become America’s Smartest City and a leader in space and atmospheric sciences. In two decades following World War II, a group of researchers convinced the government and some of the world’s scientific pioneers to make the town a center of the new space age. Bassi  points to Walter Roberts, the founder of NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) as a key player in the creation of Boulder as a science hub. “Walt Roberts was from Massachusetts and he studied at Harvard with two very well known astronomers, Harlow Shapley and Donald Menzel, and Donald Menzel built the first coronagraph in the western hemisphere, he was from Leadville and he decided to dispatch his young graduate student Walt Roberts and his new wife Janet to the mountains of Colorado to observe the sun with this coronagraph system.” After world war II Roberts and his wife moved from Leadville to Boulder which Bassi describes as a colony of Harvard “an interesting part of my story is the ups and downs of that relationship which finally lead to a separation in 1955 which a lot of people called a divorce.”

In addition, Bassi says the wider community in Boulder facilitated the growth of the science industries.  He points to the government moving the National Bureau of Standards Central Radio Propagation Laboratory from D.C. to Boulder “The Chamber of Commerce lead an activity to get money, a drive basically, to get money to buy land to give to the US government as an enticement to bring (the lab) to Boulder.”

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Joseph Bassi will speak about A Scientific Peak on Monday November 16th at 7.30pm at the Boulder Bookstore and on Tuesday November 17th from noon to 1.15pm at the Boulder History Museum.

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