Born In: Fowey, Cornwall, England
Antony Hewish was a British radio astronomer, best known for his discovery of the first pulsar. Born in the middle of 1920s, in England, he had his education first at King’s college, Somerset and then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. While he was still a student at Caius, he was sent to Telecommunications Research Establishment to work with Martin Ryle on airborne radar-counter-measure devices as part of his war service. It aroused in him an interest in radio astronomy. Later, as he rejoined his college at the end of the war, he was equally influenced by his teacher Jack Ratcliffe, the head of radio physics at Cavendish Laboratory. As soon as he earned his bachelor’s degree, he joined Ryle’s group at Cavendish Laboratory and started working with him. Concurrently, he also taught at Churchill College, Cambridge. He did a lot of important work in 1960s. It was during this period that he designed the Interplanetary Scintillation Array at Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory and discovered the first pulsar with his graduate student Jocelyn Bell. For this work, he received the 'Nobel Prize in Physics' in 1974. Although Bell failed to get the award, Hewish did not fail to acknowledge her contribution.
Died At Age: 97
Spouse/Ex-: Marjorie Richards (m. 1950)
Born Country: England
education: King's College, Taunton, University of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
awards: FInstP (1998)
Hughes Medal (1977)
Nobel Prize for Physics (1974)
Eddington Medal (1969)
Antony Hewish was born on May 11, 1924, in Fowey, Cornwall, United Kingdom. His father was a banker and he was the youngest of his parents’ three sons.
It was at TRE, that he first met Martin Ryle, who at that time was working on radar system for R.A.F. Anthony Hewish joined him to work on his airborne radar-counter-measure devices.
Hewish is best known for his designing of Interplanetary Scintillation Array, also known as IPS or Pulsar Array. After he showed how interplanetary scintillation could be used to obtain high angular resolution he decided to build a giant phased-array antenna for a major sky survey; something very different from existing radio telescopes. In 1965, he obtained a grant of £20,000 and began working on it. The array was completed by 1967, and in the month of July, they began their sky survey.
In 1974, Antony Hewish and Martin Ryle were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for their pioneering research in radio astrophysics: Ryle for his observations and inventions, in particular of the aperture synthesis technique, and Hewish for his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars". It was the first time that the prize was awarded for observational astronomy.
In 1950, Antony Hewish married Marjorie Elizabeth Catherine Richards. The couple had two children; a son and a daughter.
Hewish believed that science and religion are complementary. In the forward to 'Questions of Truth' complied by John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale, he declared that, “The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense.” He then continued to add, “We should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense understanding."
Antony Hewish died on September 13, 2021. He was 97.
Apart from teaching physics to students at the Cambridge University, he also enjoyed talking to the general public about the excitement of his research work at Royal Institute in London. As he himself had stated, “I enjoy the challenge of presenting difficult ideas in an understandable way”.
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