TechFlash: Arizona’s culture of excellence in technology
By Steve Zylstra,
“You have to have an alertness to deal with the unexpected. The history of science is filled with almost-made discoveries, missed by a hairline because they didn’t have the alertness to realize they had a discovery.”
While these could be the words of wisdom from a number of scientists, they are credited to Clyde Tombaugh.
What? You’ve never heard of him? His was a story filled with persistence and alertness.
Although he wanted to pursue astronomy after an uncle loaned him a telescope, a lack of funds kept Tombaugh out of college and forced him to build his own telescopes. Drawings of the planets Mars and Jupiter that he made with the help of those homemade telescopes caught the attention of staff at Lowell Observatory. As a result, Tombaugh was hired to conduct planet-search photography in Flagstaff, with a focus on finding “Planet-X” at the edge of the solar system.
Did he find anything? Next week marks the 89th anniversary of his discovery that came to be known as Pluto, at the time considered the ninth planet. Tombaugh did this just a few weeks after his 24th birthday. (You can bet getting a scholarship to attend college wasn’t a problem after that.)
Regardless of Pluto later being reclassified as a dwarf planet, there is no discounting Tombaugh’s discovery still was a breakthrough of major proportions. In fact, he was recognized last week by members of the Arizona Senate as an example of the tremendous contributions made by the state’s scientific community.
In their resolution, the senators cited Arizona’s rich history of scientific discovery and excellence that now is sustained by a new generation. They include scientists ranging from those who make major contributions that support the health and well-being of our residents through biomedical and clinical research to those who explore and protect Arizona’s history through their work in the field of archaeology.
To read the article in its entirety, visit The Phoenix Business Journal online.