By David P.D. Munns
For greater than 3 thousand years, the technological know-how of astronomy relied on obvious gentle. in precisely the final sixty years, radio know-how has essentially altered how astronomers see the universe. Combining the wartime innovation of radar and the confirmed criteria of conventional optical telescopes, the "radio telescope" provided humanity a brand new imaginative and prescient of the universe. In A unmarried Sky, the historian David Munns explains how the assumption of the radio telescope emerged from a brand new clinical group uniting the ability of radio with the foreign aspirations of the self-discipline of astronomy. The radio astronomers challenged chilly conflict period rivalries via forging a united clinical neighborhood a unmarried sky.
Munns tells the interconnecting tales of Australian, British, Dutch, and American radio astronomers, all looking to the best way to see the universe via radio. together, this foreign array of radio astronomers equipped a brand new "community" variety of technology opposing the "glamour" of nuclear physics. A unmarried Sky describes a communitarian sort of technological know-how, a tradition of interdisciplinary and overseas integration and cooperation, and counters the suggestion that contemporary technology has been pushed by way of festival. Collaboration, or what a trendy radio astronomer referred to as "a mixing of radio invention and astronomical insight," produced a technological know-how as progressive as Galileo's first observations with a telescope. operating jointly, the group of radio astronomers printed the constitution of the galaxy.
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Extra resources for A Single Sky: How an International Community Forged the Science of Radio Astronomy
Ira Bowen, the new director of the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories, opined that “new concepts or new experimental techniques in physics” heralded astronomy’s future. Caltech possessed a far stronger ethos of disciplinary cooperation than most observatories. Its cooperative emphasis had been a central tenet of the institution since the days of George Ellery Hale, and partly explained why Bowen was chosen over Hubble as the first postwar director. Still, though Bowen had been trained as a physicist, he did not view the discipline of physics as coming to dominate astronomy.
Recall the opening anecdote: The Welsh villagers could celebrate an English measurement of their mountain to declare their identity as Welshmen. A hill became a mountain through the cooperative transformative efforts of the cartographers and the villagers. Likewise, even though the radio wizards were disciplinary outsiders and their radio electronics magical, Shapley praised them and their wondrous discoveries because they had been made into “astronomers,” and their instruments into “telescopes,” via the making of an open cooperative scientific community.
It has also reflected the widespread problem of identity for Cold War–era scientists themselves. In hindsight, we recognize the convoluted identities of Cold War–era psychologists’ genuinely evoking the experience of scientists forging complex new communities beyond the limited boundaries of disciplines. Edge and Mulkay’s study of British radio astronomy was one of the earliest examples of this struggle. They encountered terminological quicksand when attempting to denote what unit of science radio astronomy was.