Lovell, (Alfred Charles) Bernard (1913–2012)
English radio astronomer and physicist, who was the driving force behind
the world's first giant radio telescope.
Before World War II, he studied cosmic rays with P. M. Blackett
and during World War II he did radar research. After the war, with the help
of James Hey he was able to procure an ex-Army mobile radar unit operating
at a wavelength of 4.2 meters. After finding that the electric trams at
Manchester caused too much interference, he transported the van to Jodrell
Bank on the Cheshire plain, where he used it to study transient radar
echoes. His goal was to study cosmic-ray showers using radar, but instead
he found that the echoes came from ionized meteor trails. With Clegg, he
built a 218-foot transit telescope (the "wire bowl"), with which Robert
Hanbury Brown and Cyril Hazard found that the Andromeda
Galaxy was a radio source. Pursuing his dream of a large steerable telescope,
Lovell supervised construction of the Mark 1 Jodrell Bank telescope (now
named after him).
Lovell was the author of many popular books, including In the Center
of Immensities, and the textbook Radio Astronomy, which he co-authored
An early skeptic of SETI, he responded coolly
to a letter from Cocconi, dated June 29,
1959, proposing the use of the Jodrell Bank dish to search for interstellar
signals.1 However, he changed his views to the extent that on
Mar. 22, 1962, he was able to tell congressman Emilio Daddario that "now
one has to be sympathetic about an idea which only a few years ago would
have seemed rather farfetched."2
- Lovell, Bernard. The Exploration of Outer Space (appendix).
Oxford: Oxford University Press (1962).
- Lovell, Bernard. Out of the Zenith. New York: Harper & Row