Antony Hewish bigraphy, stories - British astronomer

Antony Hewish : biography

11 May 1924 -

Antony Hewish FRS (born Fowey, Cornwall, 11 May 1924) is a British radio astronomer who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 (together with fellow radio-astronomer Martin Ryle) for his work on the development of radio aperture synthesis and its role in the discovery of pulsars. He was also awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1969.

Religious views

Hewish has argued that religion and science are "complementary". In the foreword to Questions of Truth Hewish writes, "The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is non-intuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in God, and Christian belief ... may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense understanding."

Awards and honors

Hewish has Honorary degrees from 6 universities including Manchester, Exeter and Cambridge, is a Foreign Member of the Belgian Royal Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Indian National Science Academy. His prizes include:

  • Eddington Medal, Royal Astronomical Society (1969)
  • Dellinger Gold Medal, International Union of Radio Science (1972)
  • Albert A. Michelson Medal, Franklin Institute (1973, jointly with Jocelyn Bell Burnell)
  • Nobel Prize for Physics (jointly) (1974)
  • Hughes Medal, Royal Society (1977)

Nobel prize

In the course of this survey, one of his graduate students, Jocelyn Bell, discovered the radio source which was ultimately recognised as the first pulsar. The paper announcing the discovery had five authors, Hewish's name being listed first, Bell's second. Hewish and Martin Ryle were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974. The Nobel award to Ryle and Hewish without the inclusion of Bell as a co-recipient was controversial, and was roundly condemned by Hewish's fellow astronomer Fred Hoyle. It is now universally recognized that Jocelyn Bell's supervisor and head of department "won the Nobel prize for Physics for a discovery which was essentially hers. Some people call it the No-Bell, Nobel prize because they feel so strongly that Jocelyn Bell Burnell should have shared in the award.". (2011-10-25). Retrieved on 2012-07-27. Despite this, however, following the award of the prize to Hewish and Ryle, in an interview with 'Cosmic Search' Bell was recorded as saying that "It has been suggested that I should have had a part in the Nobel Prize awarded to Tony Hewish for the discovery of pulsars. There are several comments that I would like to make on this: First, demarcation disputes between supervisor and student are always difficult, probably impossible to resolve. Secondly, it is the supervisor who has the final responsibility for the success or failure of the project. We hear of cases where a supervisor blames his student for a failure, but we know that it is largely the fault of the supervisor. It seems only fair to me that he should benefit from the successes, too. Thirdly, I believe it would demean Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to research students, except in very exceptional cases, and I do not believe this is one of them. Finally, I am not myself upset about it — after all, I am in good company, am I not!". NAAPO. Retrieved on 2012-06-07.

Personal life

He married Marjorie Richards in 1950. They have a son.

Early life

He attended King's College, Taunton. His undergraduate degree at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, was interrupted by war service at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, and at the Telecommunications Research Establishment where he worked with Martin Ryle. Returning to Cambridge in 1946, Hewish completed his degree and immediately joined Ryle's research team at the Cavendish Laboratory, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1952. Hewish made both practical and theoretical advances in the observation and exploitation of the apparent scintillations of radio sources due to their radiation impinging upon plasma. This led him to propose, and secure funding for, the construction of the Interplanetary Scintillation Array, a large array radio telescope at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO), Cambridge in order to conduct a high time-resolution radio survey of interplanetary scintillation.

Subsequent career

Hewish was professor of radio astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory from 1971 to 1989, and head of the MRAO from 1982 to 1988. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1968. He developed an association with the Royal Institution in London when it was directed by Sir Lawrence Bragg. In 1965 he was invited to co-deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on Exploration of the Universe. He subsequently gave several Friday Evening Discourses. (1924-05-11). Retrieved on 2012-07-27. and was made a Professor of the Royal Institution in 1977.Who's Who 2009 p. 1072but according to a search of the Royal Institution website he was Professor of Astronomy during 1976–1981

Hewish is a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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