Physicist Sir Bernard Lovell dies

 

Celebrated physicist and radio astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell has died at the age of 98, the University of Manchester said today.

Sir Bernard was the university's Emeritus Professor of Radioastronomy and the founder and first director of Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire.

In a statement, the university said his "legacy is immense" and added that he was "a great man, he will be sorely missed".

Jodrell Bank is dominated by the 250ft (76m) Lovell Telescope, conceived by Sir Bernard.

He began working with engineer Sir Charles Husband to build the telescope in 1945 and it has since become a symbol of British science and engineering and a landmark in the Cheshire countryside.

A hugely ambitious project at the time, the telescope was by far the world's largest when it was completed in 1957 and within days tracked the rocket that carried Sputnik 1 into orbit, marking the dawn of the space age.

It is still the third largest steerable telescope in the world and a series of upgrades mean it is now more capable than ever, observing phenomena undreamed of when it was first conceived.

Today, the Lovell Telescope plays a key role in world-leading research on pulsars, testing our understanding of extreme physics including Einstein's general theory of relativity, the university said.

Last year, Jodrell Bank Observatory was placed on the UK Government's shortlist for World Heritage Site status, recognising its important role in research and education.

Sir Bernard is survived by four of his five children, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

A tribute published on the Jodrell Bank website said: "In person, Sir Bernard was warm and generous.

"He retained a keen interest in the development of science at Jodrell Bank and beyond.

"Indeed he continued to come in to work at the Observatory until quite recently when ill-health intervened.

"Outside the world of science he was an accomplished musician, playing the organ at the Swettenham Church for many years.

"He was also a keen cricketer, captain of the Chelford Cricket Club and past president of the Lancashire County Cricket Club.

"He was also renowned internationally for his passion for arboriculture, creating arboretums at both The Quinta and Jodrell Bank itself.

"Sir Bernard's legacy is immense, extending from his wartime work to his pioneering contributions to radio astronomy and including his dedication to education and public engagement with scientific research.

"A great man, he will be sorely missed."

Sir Bernard wrote many books about Jodrell Bank and astronomy in general, notable among which was The Story of Jodrell Bank, published in 1968.

He took part in the 1958 BBC Reith Lectures in which he spoke about The Individual And The Universe.

A book of condolence will be opened at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre on August 7 and an online version will also be available.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Born in 1913 in Oldland Common, Gloucestershire, Sir Bernard studied at the University of Bristol before arriving at Manchester University to work in the Department of Physics in 1936.

During the Second World War, he led the team that developed H2S radar, work for which he was later awarded the OBE.

Sir Bernard returned to the Manchester Physics Department in 1945 and began work on cosmic rays using ex-military radar equipment.

He took the equipment to the university's botany site at Jodrell Bank in late 1945 and the idea for the famous telescope was born.

Sir Bernard, who was knighted in 1961, was director of Jodrell Bank from 1945 to 1980.

The university said: "Over the last seven decades, many hundreds of scientists and engineers have worked and trained at Jodrell Bank, often going on to work at other observatories across the world.

"Jodrell Bank has also inspired generations of schoolchildren who have visited the Observatory to pursue careers in science, engineering and medicine."

Physicist Professor Brian Cox, who presented the BBC's Wonders of the Universe, tweeted about Sir Bernard: "I met him many times - a great man.

"Jodrell Bank (home of Stargazing) is his scientific legacy."

PA

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

SharePoint Administrator/Developer (C#, VB.NET, VISUAL STUDIO 2

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SharePoi...

European HR Director, London

£80000 - £95000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation Ja...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit