Antony Hewish Ph.D
"Mapping the Primordial Universe"

Friday April 14th - 104 Keller Building - 8p.m.
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University Park, PA–Antony Hewish, the man who discovered pulsars and a Nobel Laureate in Physics from Cambridge University, will present the 2000 Arthur H. Waynick Memorial Lecture at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 14, in 104 Keller Building.

            The lecture, “Mapping the Primordial Universe,” is free and open to the public. Parking is available nearby at the Nittany Parking Deck. The lecture is presented by the Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory and the Department of Electrical Engineering.

            Hewish’s lecture will focus on new frontiers in radioastronomy and the next generation of instruments being used to probe the origins of the universe. Through radioastronomy, vital clues to a time before stars and galaxies can be found in the “fossil” records of the universe—microwave background radiation. Hewish will talk about these new frontiers in radioastronomy as well as the design and construction of a new powerful radio telescope by Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory that is expected to be a boon in the effort to learn more about the origins of our own galaxy.

            In 1967 Hewish and Ph.D. student Jocelyn Bell completed a radio telescope at Cambridge designed to observe the scintillation, or twinkling, of stars. In late November they observed an unusual signal corresponding to a sharp burst of radio energy at a regular interval of approximately one second (1.3373011 seconds, to be exact). After ruling out that the signal was man-made or originated from extraterrestrial beings, the majority of physicists agreed the best explanation was that it was a neutron star—a massive star that died and collapsed into an incredibly dense, spinning body.

Hewish and Bell’s discovery served as the first evidence of this phenomenon, and the signal source became known as a pulsar. It is believed that rapidly rotating neutron stars with intense electromagnetic fields emit radio waves from their north and south poles. From a great distance, these radio emissions are perceived in pulses, similar to the way one sees the light from a lighthouse’s rotating lantern.

In 1974 Hewish received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of pulsars. The discovery is of paramount importance to physics and astrophysics because it checks Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and demonstrates the existence of gravitational waves. New avenues have opened up for studying the properties of matter under very extreme conditions. The pulsar’s discovery also is the first step in verifying the existence of black holes.

Hewish’s numerous honors and awards include the Holweck Medal and Prize from the Société Française de Physique; the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society; the Michelson Medal from the Franklin Institute; the Dellinger Medal from the International Union of Radio Science; and the Eddington Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society; a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy; an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers; and an associate member of the Belgian Royal Academy.

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