In brief


  • Randy Showstack


Honoring a radio astronomy pioneer Fifty-seven years after Karl Jansky inadvertently helped spawn the field of radio astronomy by becoming the first person to hear radio waves from outer space, the pioneer was honored by Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories at a June 8 ceremony that included the unveiling of a 4-m long replica of his antenna at the exact site of the original 30.5-m long instrument. This instrument resembled a box kite lying on its side, and was supported by Model T Ford tires.

Jansky's discovery “was ahead of its time,” said Tony Tyson, an astrophysicist with Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Tyson, who worked with Robert Wilson, a senior scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., to determine the location of Jansky's original antenna, said that in the early 1930s “radio waves had nothing to do with astronomy, so it really fell between radio engineering and astronomy.”