Bernard Lovell

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Bernard Lovell
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Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell, OBE, FRS (31 August 1913 – 6 August 2012) was an English physicist and radio astronomer. He was the first Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, from 1945 to 1980.[1][2][3][4][5]

Early life and education

Lovell was born at Oldland Common, Bristol in 1913,[6] the son of Gilbert and Emily Laura Lovell.[7] His childhood hobbies and interests included cricket and music – mainly the piano. He had a Methodist upbringing and attended Kingswood Grammar School.[8]

Career

Lovell studied physics at the University of Bristol obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in 1934,[7] and a PhD in 1936 on the electrical conductivity of thin films.[9][10][11][12] At this time he also received lessons from Raymond Jones, a teacher at Bath Technical School and later organist at Bath Abbey. The church organ was one of the main loves of his life, apart from science.[13][14] He worked in the cosmic ray research team at the University of Manchester[15][15][16][17] until the outbreak of the Second World War, during which he worked for the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) developing radar systems to be installed in aircraft, among them H2S. In June 1942 he was involved in the recovery of a highly secret cavity magnetron from the wreckage of a Handley Page Halifax that had crashed killing a number of his colleagues, including EMI engineer Alan Blumlein, while on a test flight. For his work on H2S Lovell received an OBE in 1946.[18]

He attempted to continue his studies of cosmic rays with an ex-military radar detector unit, but suffered much background interference from the electric trams on Manchester's Oxford Road. He moved his equipment to a more remote location, one which was free from such electrical interference, and where he established the Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Goostrey in Cheshire. It was an outpost of the university's botany department. In the course of his experiments, he was able to show that radar echoes could be obtained from daytime meteor showers as they entered the Earth's atmosphere and ionised the surrounding air. With university funding, he constructed the then-largest steerable radio telescope in the world, which now bears his name – the Lovell Telescope. Over 50 years later, it remains a productive radio telescope, now operated mostly as part of the MERLIN and European VLBI Network interferometric arrays of radio telescopes.

Portrait by Reginald Gray, 1966, for the New York Times

In 1958, Lovell was invited by the BBC to deliver the annual Reith Lectures, a series of six radio broadcasts called The Individual and the Universe,[19] in which he examined the history of enquiry into the solar system and the origin of the universe.

In 1959, he was invited to deliver the MacMillan Memorial Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He chose the subject 'Radio Astronomy and the Structure of the Universe'.

Lovell was knighted in 1961[20] for his important contributions to the development of radio astronomy, and has a secondary school named after him in Oldland Common, Bristol, which he officially opened.[21] A building on the QinetiQ site in Malvern is also named after him.

In 2009, Lovell spoke of a claimed assassination attempt in Deep-Space Communication Centre (Eupatoria) during the Cold War where the Soviets allegedly tried to kill him with a lethal radiation dose. At the time, Lovell was head of the Jodrell Bank space telescope that was also being used as part of an early warning system for Soviet nuclear attacks. Lovell wrote a full account of the incident, to be published only after his death.[22]

Lovell was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[23]

The first name of the fictional scientist Bernard Quatermass, the hero of several BBC Television science-fiction serials of the 1950s, was chosen in honour of Lovell.[24]

Physically very frail, Lovell lived in quiet retirement in the English countryside, surrounded by music, his books and a vast garden filled with trees he himself planted many decades before.

Lovell died at home in Cheshire on 6 August 2012.[25][26]

Personal life

In 1937 he married Mary Joyce Chesterman (d.1993) and they had two sons and three daughters.[27]

Awards and honours

Lovell won numerous awards including:

Lectures

In 1965 he was invited to co-deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on Exploration of the Universe. In 1975 he gave the presidential address (In the Centre of Immensities) to the British Association meeting in Guildford.[29]

Publications

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  • Lovell, Bernard (1952). Radio astronomy. Chapman & Hall.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  • Lovell, Bernard (1954). Meteor astronomy (International series of monographs on physics). Clarendon P.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  • Lovell, Bernard (1958) The Individual and the Universe BBC Reith Lectures[19]
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  • Lovell, Bernard (1962). The exploration of outer space. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-217618-8 (hardcover).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1962). Exploration of Space by Radio. Chap. & H. ISBN 0-412-06020-5 (hardcover).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[30]
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  • Lovell, Bernard; Margerison (editor), T. (1967). Explosion of Science: Physical Universe. Thames & Hudson Ltd. ISBN 0-500-01038-2 (hardback). <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1967). Our Present Knowledge of the Universe. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-0314-8 (hardback) ISBN 0-7190-0313-X (paperback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1967). The explosion of science: The physical universe. Thames & Hudson.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1968). Story of Jodrell Bank. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-217619-6 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard, ed. (1970). Royal Institution Library of Science: Discourses, 1851–1939: Astronomy. Elsevier. ISBN 0-444-20102-5 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1973). The Origins and International Economics of Space Exploration. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-85224-256-5 (hardback) ISBN 0-470-54851-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1973). Out of the Zenith: Jodrell Bank, 1957–70. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-217624-2 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1975). Man's Relation to the Universe. W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd. ISBN 0-7167-0356-4 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1976). P.M.S.Blackett: A Biographical Memoir. The Royal Society. ISBN 0-85403-077-8 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1979). In the Centre of Immensities. Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-136780-8 (hardback) ISBN 0-586-08362-6 (paperback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1980). Emerging Cosmology: Convergence. Greenwood Press. ISBN 1-58348-113-3 (paperback reprint) ISBN 0-03-001009-8 (paperback) ISBN 0-275-91790-8 (paperback) ISBN 0-448-15517-6 (hardback) ISBN 0-231-05304-5 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1985). The Jodrell Bank Telescopes. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-858178-5 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1987). Voice of the Universe: Building the Jodrell Bank Telescope. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-275-92678-8 (hardback) ISBN 0-275-92679-6 (paperback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard; Francis Graham-Smith (1988). Pathways to the Universe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32004-6 (hardcover).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1990). Astronomer by Chance. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00512-8 (hardback) ISBN 0-19-282949-1 (paperback) ISBN 0-333-55195-8 (hardback reprint).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard (1991). Echoes of War: The Story of H2S Radar. Adam Hilger. ISBN 0-85274-317-3 (hardback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lovell, Bernard; Guy Hartcup (2000). The Effect of Science on the Second World War. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-67061-2 (hardback) ISBN 1-4039-0643-2 (paperback).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

References

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  6. GRO Register of Births: DEC 1913 5c 885 KEYNSHAM – Alfred CB Lovell, mmn = Adams
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  8. "Bernard Lovell: 2 – Secondary school & the lecture that changed my life". Web of Stories. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Index to Theses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Theses.com (3 August 2012). Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
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  18. "78 – Work on meteors at Jodrell Bank: observing the Giacobinid meteor shower of 1946". Webofstories.com. Retrieved 9 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "BBC Radio 4 – The Reith Lectures, Bernard Lovell: The Individual and the Universe: 1958". Retrieved 2012-08-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Sir Bernard Lovell". Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester 28 August 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Sir Bernard Lovell School in Oldland Common". Retrieved 2006-11-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Sir Bernard Lovell claims Russians tried to kill him with radiation". The Telegraph. 22 May 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Bernard Lovell". Retrieved 29 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Murray, Andy (2006). Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale (paperback). London: Headpress. p. 28. ISBN 1-900486-50-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "BBC News – Astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell dies". BBC. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Sir Bernard Lovell, University of Manchester, 7 August 2012
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  28. Honorary Graduates 1966 to 1988 | University of Bath. Bath.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
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External links