Antony Hewish

Antony Hewish FRS FInstP[3] (born 11 May 1924) is a British radio astronomer who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 (together with fellow radio-astronomer Martin Ryle)[4] for his role in the discovery of pulsars. He was also awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1969.[5][6][7]

Antony Hewish

Born11 May 1924 (age 94)
Fowey, Cornwall, England
NationalityUnited Kingdom
EducationKing's College, Taunton
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
Known forPulsars
Marjorie Richards (m. 1950)
Scientific career
FieldsRadio astronomy
ThesisThe fluctuations of galactic radio waves (1952)
Doctoral studentsJocelyn Bell Burnell[2]

Early life and education

Hewish 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 PhD in 1952.[8] 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 to conduct a high time-resolution radio survey of interplanetary scintillation.

Career and research

Hewish was professor of radio astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory from 1971 to 1989, and head of the MRAO from 1982 to 1988. 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[7] and was made a Professor of the Royal Institution in 1977.[1][9] Hewish is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.[10]

Awards and honours

Hewish has Honorary degrees from six 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. Other awards and honours include:[1]

Nobel Prize

One of his PhD students, Jocelyn Bell (later known as Jocelyn Bell Burnell), noted the radio source which was ultimately recognised as the first pulsar. The paper announcing the discovery[12] 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 for work on the development of radio aperture synthesis and its role in the discovery of pulsars. 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.[13] See Nobel prize controversies.[14]

Personal life

Hewish married Marjorie Elizabeth Catherine Richards in 1950. They have a son, a physicist, and a daughter, a language teacher.[7][15]

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."[16]


  1. ^ a b c d HEWISH, Prof. Antony. Who's Who. 2015 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. closed access (subscription required)
  2. ^ Bell, Susan Jocelyn (1968). The Measurement of radio source diameters using a diffraction method. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. doi:10.17863/CAM.4926. EThOS Free to read
  3. ^ a b "Professor Antony Hewish FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015.
  4. ^ István., Hargittai, (2007) [2002]. The road to Stockholm : Nobel Prizes, science, and scientists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198607857. OCLC 818659203.
  5. ^ Hewish, A (1975). "Pulsars and High Density Physics". Science (published 13 June 1975). 188 (4193): 1079–1083. Bibcode:1975Sci...188.1079H. doi:10.1126/science.188.4193.1079. PMID 17798425
  6. ^ "Antony Hewish". 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b c "Antony Hewish - Biographical". 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  8. ^ Hewish, Antony (1952). The Fluctuations of Galactic Radio Waves (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
  9. ^ but according to a search of the Royal Institution website he was Professor of Astronomy during 1976–1981
  10. ^ "Advisory Council". Campaign for Science and Engineering. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  11. ^ "Franklin Laureate Database – Albert A. Michelson Medal Laureates". Franklin Institute. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  12. ^ Hewish, A.; Bell, S. J.; Pilkington, J. D. H.; Scott, P. F. & Collins, R. A. (February 1968). "Observation of a Rapidly Pulsating Radio Source". Nature. 217 (5130): 709–713. Bibcode:1968Natur.217..709H. doi:10.1038/217709a0. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  13. ^ "The Life Scientific, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell". BBC Radio 4. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  14. ^ Bell Burnell, S. Jocelyn (January 1979). "Little Green Men, White Dwarfs or Pulsars?". Cosmic Search. 1 (1): 16. Bibcode:1979CosSe...1...16B. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Janus: The Papers of Professor Antony Hewish". Cambridge University Library. 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  16. ^ Polkinghorne, John; Beale, Nicholas (19 January 2009). Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions about God, Science, and Belief. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-61164-003-8. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
Anthony R. Michaelis

Anthony R. Michaelis (22 August 1916 in Berlin – 18 October 2007 in Heidelberg) was a science journalist and publisher.He was born Kurt Otto Adolf Michaelis, a doctor's son, in Berlin on August 22, 1916 and educated at the Falk Real Gymnasium. Although baptised a Lutheran, he had three Jewish grandparents, which meant that after Hitler came to power in 1933 he would not be allowed to study science - so his father sent him to London.

Michaelis studied aeronautical engineering at the Imperial College of the University of London before switching to Chemistry. He went on to obtain a doctorate on "The Dehydrogenation of Alicyclic Compounds and Terpenic Ketones in the Liquid Phase", while lecturing at Sheffield University under Sir Patrick Linstead. He was interned as an 'enemy alien' in England in May 1940 and then Canada, where he formed lasting friendships with Klaus Fuchs, Max Perutz, Hermann Bondi and Tommy Gold. After he returned to Britain in December 1940, he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service whilst working as a chemist in a paint factory. After graduation, he became chief chemist at Milton Antiseptic.

After World War II Michaelis worked for the British Intelligence Objectives Committee, which investigated enemy scientific developments, and in 1946 he married Ann Aikman, with whom he was to have three children. His distinguished career as a science journalist and editor spanned several activities including the “BIOS project”, technical writing at “CIBA” and “International Telecommunication Union” in Switzerland. Later he became a scientific film author in Australia, editor of the British magazine Discovery, science correspondent for The Daily Telegraph where he wrote daily reports on science and technology from 1969 to 1973. He was also the founding editor and publisher of Interdisciplinary Science Reviews.Whilst at the Daily Telegraph, in 1968, Michaelis was the first person to coin and use the term "Pulsar" to describe the discovery of Jocelyn_Bell_Burnell and Antony_Hewish of the "Pulsating Radio star" in 1967.

Michaelis became known as an expert on the subject of scientific cinematography. From 1950 to 1954 he worked at the University of Sydney and during this time wrote much of the textbook Research Films (1956, US). The National Library of Australia holds material related to the publication of this book.

Cambridge Interferometer

The Cambridge Interferometer was a radio telescope interferometer built by Martin Ryle and Antony Hewish in the early 1950s to the west of Cambridge (between the Grange Road football ground and the current Cavendish Laboratory). The interferometer consisted of an array of 4 fixed elements to survey the sky. It produced the two Cambridge catalogues of radio sources (the 2C catalogue of radio sources at 81.5 MHz, and the 3C catalogue of radio sources at 159 MHz, building on the work of the Preliminary survey of the radio stars in the Northern Hemisphere at 45 MHz - 214 MHz using the 2-element Long Michelson Interferometer), discovering some of the most interesting astronomical objects known. The telescope was operated by the Radio Astronomy Group of Cambridge University.

Martin Ryle and Antony Hewish received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 for this and other related work.

Cavendish Laboratory

The Cavendish Laboratory is the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, and is part of the School of Physical Sciences. The laboratory was opened in 1874 on the New Museums Site as a laboratory for experimental physics and is named after the British chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish. The laboratory has had a huge influence on research in the disciplines of physics and biology.

The laboratory moved to its present site in West Cambridge in 1974.

As of 2011, 29 Cavendish researchers have won Nobel Prizes. Notable discoveries to have occurred at the Cavendish Laboratory include the discovery of the electron, neutron, and structure of DNA.

Fernand Holweck Medal and Prize

The Fernand Holweck Medal and Prize is a major European prize for Physics awarded jointly every year by the British Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Société Française de Physique (SFP). It is one of the four Grand Prix of the SFP and one of the four International Bilateral Awards of the IOP, consisting of a gold medal and a 3000€ cash prize.The prize was established in 1945 as a memorial to Fernand Holweck and other French physicists who were persecuted or killed by the Nazis during the German occupation of France during World War II, from 1940 to 1945. It is awarded for distinguished work in experimental physics (which reflects Holweck's scientific interest) or in theoretical physics which is closely related to experimentation.The Holweck Prize is awarded every year, alternately to a French physicist and a British or Irish physicist. In 1974 two awards were made to mark the centenaries of the two societies. Holweck Laureates include several Nobel Prize winners.


Hewish is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Antony Hewish (born 1924), English astronomer

James Hewish, Australian short track speed skating referee

Interplanetary Scintillation Array

The Interplanetary Scintillation Array (also known as the IPS Array or Pulsar Array) is a radio telescope that was built in 1967 at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and was operated by the Cavendish Astrophysics Group. The instrument originally covered 4 acres (16,000 m²). It was enlarged to 9 acres in 1978, and was re-furbished in 1989.

The array operates at a radio frequency of 81.5 MHz (3.7 m wavelength), and is made up of 4,096 dipole antennas in a phased array. Using 14 beams, it can map the northern sky in one day. The observatory's staff uses sheep to keep grass away from the antennas because a lawn mower cannot not fit in the spaces.

Antony Hewish designed the IPS Array to measure the high-frequency fluctuations of radio sources, originally for monitoring interplanetary scintillation. Hewish received a Nobel prize after the high time-resolution of the array allowed the detection of pulsars by Jocelyn Bell in 1967.The IPS Array has more recently been used to track and help forecast interplanetary weather, and specifically to monitor the solar wind. It is now essentially retired, and has lost a significant fraction of its area.

J. A. Ratcliffe

John Ashworth Ratcliffe CB OBE FRS (12 December 1902 – 25 October 1987), "JAR" or "Jack", was an influential British radio physicist. (Several sources misspell his name as Radcliffe.)

He and his University of Cambridge group (which included physicist Frank Farmer) did much pioneering work on the ionosphere, immediately prior to World War II. He was one of many leading radio scientists who worked at the Telecommunications Research Establishment during WW2. Martin Ryle, Bernard Lovell, and Antony Hewish were co-workers there, and Ryle and Hewish joined his radio-physics group at Cambridge after WW2. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1951.

In 1953 Ratcliffe was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Uses of Radio Waves.

He served as President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers from 1966 to 1967.

From 1960 to 1966 he was Director of the Radio & Space Research Station at Slough.

Ratcliffe was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1976.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (; born 15 July 1943) is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student, co-discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967. She was credited with "one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century". The discovery was recognised by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, but despite the fact that she was the first to observe the pulsars, Bell was not one of the recipients of the prize.

The paper announcing the discovery of pulsars had five authors. Bell's thesis supervisor Antony Hewish was listed first, Bell second. Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with the astronomer Martin Ryle. Many prominent astronomers criticised Bell's omission, including Sir Fred Hoyle. In 1977, Bell Burnell played down this controversy, saying, "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." The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in its press release announcing the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, cited Ryle and Hewish for their pioneering work in radio-astrophysics, with particular mention of Ryle's work on aperture-synthesis technique, and Hewish's decisive role in the discovery of pulsars.

Bell served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, as president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and as interim president of the Institute following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011.

In 2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. She donated the whole of the £2.3 million prize money to help female, minority, and refugee students become physics researchers.

Karl Schwarzschild Medal

The Karl Schwarzschild Medal, named after the astrophysicist Karl Schwarzschild, is an award presented by the Astronomische Gesellschaft (German Astronomical Society) to eminent astronomers and astrophysicists.

List of Cornish scientists

This is a list of scientists from Cornwall, a county of England, in the United Kingdom.

List of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1968

This page lists Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1968.

Long Michelson Interferometer

The Long Michelson Interferometer was a radio telescope interferometer built by Martin Ryle and co-workers in the late 1940s beside the rifle range to the west of Cambridge, England. The interferometer consisted of 2 fixed elements 440m apart to survey the sky using Earth rotation. It produced the Preliminary survey of the radio stars in the Northern Hemisphere at 45 MHz - 214 MHz. The telescope was operated by the Radio Astronomy Group of Cambridge University.

Martin Ryle and Antony Hewish received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 for this and later work in radio interferometry.

Martin Ryle

Sir Martin Ryle (27 September 1918 – 14 October 1984) was an English radio astronomer who developed revolutionary radio telescope systems (see e.g. aperture synthesis) and used them for accurate location and imaging of weak radio sources. In 1946 Ryle and Derek Vonberg were the first people to publish interferometric astronomical measurements at radio wavelengths. With improved equipment, Ryle observed the most distant known galaxies in the universe at that time. He was the first Professor of Radio Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, and founding director of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory. He was Astronomer Royal from 1972 to 1982. Ryle and Antony Hewish shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974, the first Nobel prize awarded in recognition of astronomical research. In the 1970s, Ryle turned the greater part of his attention from astronomy to social and political issues which he considered to be more urgent.

One-Mile Telescope

The One-Mile Telescope at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO), Cambridge, UK is an array of radio telescopes (2 fixed and 1 moveable, fully steerable 60-ft-diameter parabolic reflectors operating simultaneously at 1407 MHz and 408 MHz) designed to perform aperture synthesis interferometry.

Questions of Truth

Questions of Truth is a book by John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale which offers their responses to 51 questions about science and religion. The foreword is contributed by Antony Hewish.

The book was launched at a workshop at the 2009 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in Chicago, and then in the UK at a discussion at the Royal Society chaired by Onora O'Neill, in a week when it was also featured on the Today Programme.

The Observatory (journal)

The Observatory is a publication, variously described as a journal, a magazine and a review, devoted to astronomy. It appeared regularly starting in 1877, and it is now published every two months. The current editors are David Stickland, Bob Argyle and Steve Fossey.Although it is not published by the Royal Astronomical Society, it publishes the reports of its meetings. Other features are the extensive book reviews and "Here and There", a collection of misprints and ridiculous statements of astronomical interest.

The founder and first editor (1877–82) was William Christie, then chief assistant at the Royal Observatory and later Astronomer Royal. Notable subsequent editors include:

Arthur Eddington (1913–19)

Harold Spencer Jones (1915–23)

Richard van der Riet Woolley (1933–39)

William McCrea (1935–37)

Margaret Burbidge (1948–51)

Antony Hewish (1957–61)

Donald Lynden-Bell (1967–69)

Carole Jordan (1968–73)

Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1973–76)

Timeline of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and supernovae

Timeline of neutron stars, pulsars, supernovae, and white dwarfs

Note that this list is mainly about the development of knowledge, but also about some supernovae taking place. For a separate list of the latter, see the article List of supernovae. All dates refer to when the supernova was observed on Earth or would have been observed on Earth had powerful enough telescopes existed at the time.


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