By Geoff McNamara

ISBN-10: 0387765603

ISBN-13: 9780387765600

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Additional resources for Clocks in the Sky - The Story of Pulsars (SPBPA)

Sample text

I initially thought the scruffy signal might have come from a flare star and closer inspection using a faster chart speed was necessary to check this,' Hewish recalled. October 1967 By October 1967 the last of the recorders and receivers had been installed and tests based on observations of the well-known source 3C273 had been completed. The IPS Array was now fully operational. Bell was now going out to the observatory daily to make fast recordings of the object at RA 1919, but to no avail. After the initial observations the source had vanished.

His initial reaction was that the source had to be artificial: there was no known natural phenomenon that could produce a recurring radio signal. Bell, on the other hand, didn't see why it couldn't be coming from a star. Nonetheless, Hewish was interested enough to go to the observatory at the time of the next transit. Despite the peek-a-boo game the source had played with Bell during those frustrating weeks in October, this time it performed on cue: right at the expected time, with Hewish and Bell looking on intently, the pulses reappeared.

Due to a miscalculation of when the source was to transit the new site, the scientists had almost given up too soon. Here at last was the verification Hewish and Bell needed: the pulsating radio source was real. This was a radio source unlike anything previously observed. The questions now arose: who to tell, and how? Meeting on How to Announce Discovery You might think that making a new discovery like this is exciting and easy. Spot something new then rush to the newspapers. Science doesn't operate this way, however: it is a delicate balance of the urgency to get into the scientific press to gain priority and the need for verification.

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Clocks in the Sky - The Story of Pulsars (SPBPA) by Geoff McNamara

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