Biographies

Antony Hewish and the pulsars

Antony Hewish and the pulsars

Radio astronomer Antony Hewish (England, 1924), received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of pulsars. These are those stellar objects that emit very fast and regular radio impulses.

Hewish studied at the University of Cambridge, where he joined the radio astronomy group. He earned a doctorate in 1958, and worked as a professor of radio astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory from 1971 to 1989.

He was also director of the Mullard Observatory of Radio Astronomy between 1982 and 1988.

A series of important improvements in radio telescopes are due to Hewish. These improvements were those that, in 1967, together with his assistant Jocelyn Bell, led him to detect microwave impulses in a body located between the stars Vega and Altair. Hewish baptized this body as a pulsating star or pulsar.

This discovery was what led him to share in 1974 the Nobel Prize in Physics with the British astrophysicist Martin Ryle. In the scientific world, many consider that the Nobel should also have awarded it to Jocelyn Bell.

Hewish was responsible for the construction of the Interplanetary Scintillation Array, a set of telescopes located at the Mullard Observatory of Radio Astronomy (MRAO), in Cambridge. Its main mission was to accurately track the flickering of radio sources.

Antony Hewish is another scientist who believes that religion and science are perfectly complementary. In some of his statements he has ensured that "the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our understanding of common sense."

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