Sir Bernard Lovell, pioneer of Jodrell Bank, dies at 98
Tributes to designer of legendary British telescope and 'inventor' of modern astronomy
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 08 August 2012
Sir Bernard Lovell, the father of British radio-astronomy whose name will forever be associated with the famous Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, died on Monday at the age of 98.
Sir Bernard was the first director of Jodrell Bank, where he designed and built what was then the world's largest steerable radio-telescope, a 76m-wide device now known as the Lovell Telescope. It was completed in 1957 for what at the time was considered a controversial cost of £700,000. His critics were assuaged, however, when within days of its opening the telescope tracked the Soviet rocket launching Sputnik, the first man-made satellite.
During the Second World War, Sir Bernard led the team that developed the first ground-scanning radar used on RAF aircraft and later, on return to the University of Manchester, deployed some of the same equipment to build his first radio-telescope for detecting cosmic rays from deep space.
In late 1945 he brought his equipment out to the university's botany field site at Jodrell Bank, where he eventually founded the world famous observatory for radio-astronomy, a field he popularised for the public.
"He was a pioneer of radio-astronomy and almost invented the subject. He built the leading telescope and that radio study of the sky has contributed a vast amount to our understanding of the Universe," said Professor Brian Cox, the TV physicist.
One of the most intriguing episodes in Sir Bernard's life could now emerge following his death. In 2009, he claimed to have survived an assassination attempt during a visit to the Soviet Union in 1963 but insisted his account of the affair should only be published after his death.
Sir Bernard claimed that he had suffered radiation sickness as a result of being bombarded by a Russian radio-telescope during an official visit to a military facility on the Black Sea.
"They tried to remove from my memory the fact that they had taken me to their own defence nucleus on the Black Sea coast, because they did now want news of what they had brought back to this country," he said in a 2009 TV interview.
Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, said Sir Bernard was a great visionary leader in science whose experience in the war gave him the confidence to "think big": "He had the boldness and self-confidence to conceive a giant radio telescope, and the persistence to see it through to completion"
Simon Calder looks at communities fighting back against the poachers
Latest in News
Guide dog mauled while helping owner deliver Christmas cards
Chemical and radiation experts investigate after death of man found inside tent in field
Nelson Mandela’s complex bond with Britain
The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era
10 stone five-year-old taken into care
- 1 Turning up the voice of America
- 2 The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era
- 3 The man who made Femen: New film outs Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the protest group and its breast-baring stunts
- 4 An obsessive’s documenting of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon can show us how the West lost respect for international law
- 5 Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis
- < Previous
- Next >
£23 - £30 per hour: Morgan Hunt: A fantastic opportunity has arisen within a c...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Job Title - HR Manager Role type - Pe...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Charter Selection: Leading global manufacturing com...
£185 - £250 per day: Morgan Hunt: A fantastic opportunity has arisen within a ...