Gregorio Y. Zara

Gregorio Y. Zara (1902-1978)

National Scientist of 1978, as proclaimed by President Ferdinand Marcos

When this assignment was given to the class, I was suddenly kicked back by nostalgia to my first year in high school. My General Science teacher back then spoke very fondly of this man and so after the school year ended, the name, especially his life and works, have never escaped me ever since. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Lourdes Zara — wife of Gregorio Y. Zara’s grandson. This is the reason I have chosen to have the noted Dr. Zara as my featured scientist.

His Life and Works

Gregorio Y. Zara was born in Lipa, Batangas in the year 1902. After having studied in the University of the Philippines – Diliman, he enrolled in the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduating with a degree of BS in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Zara, after returning to the country, became an expert in the field of aeronautic engineering.

He pioneered the discovery of the “Zara effect” which is commonly known as the physical law of electric kinetic resistance. In addition to this discovery, he also invented the mechanism or process by which an airplane can run on plain alcohol fuel. Although this idea may seem very far-fetched at that time, he managed to successfully carry out the flight of his aircraft in 1954 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Above all these, he also owns the patent for his invention, the videophone / photophone, that enables two parties in a call to see each other real-time. Dr. Zara has contributed in numerous researches throughout the country and has come up with an impressive roster of brilliant inventions but these three are the ones that gave him a name in the scientific industry.

Why is He Important?

In the field of aeronautics, knowing that we have this successful alternative method in our hands changes everything in society today. If only someone continues Dr. Zara’s research and finds a way to apply it to the modern airplane, our problems with regards to the scarcity in fuel will definitely be solved. Also, amidst the rise in global warming threats to the environment, this greener solution will decrease our high-risk status.

To add to this, if serving as the springboard for today’s video-calling technology is not enough, then I do not know what is. Dr. Zara’s invention made way for the development of the conveniences we enjoy today. Starting with the 3G technology launched a couple of years back by Nokia (the cellphone models with cameras in front), and down to the revolutionary Facetime feature of the iPhone 4 — all these traces its roots to the Filipino scientist that sparked the idea.

Dr. Zara’s works largely contributed to the future of the global population especially to the greenovation that is his aeronautical discoveries. And also, without him, we would have been stuck in the “eyeball” era — where a huge chunk of effort would have been needed to put a face behind the name.

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