Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell
31 August 1913
Oldland Common, Bristol
|Died||6 August 2012 (aged 98)|
|Alma mater||University of Bristol|
|Thesis||The electrical conductivity of thin metallic films (1936)|
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.
Early life and education
Lovell was born at Oldland Common, Bristol in 1913, the son of Gilbert and Emily Laura Lovell. His childhood hobbies and interests included cricket and music, mainly the piano. He had a Methodist upbringing and attended Kingswood Grammar School.
Career and research
Lovell studied physics at the University of Bristol obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in 1934, and a PhD in 1936 on the electrical conductivity of thin films. 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. He worked in the cosmic ray research team at the University of Manchester 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.
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.
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, 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 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. A building on the QinetiQ site in Malvern is also named after him.
In 2009, Lovell claimed he had been the subject of a Cold War assassination attempt during a 1963 visit to the Soviet Deep-Space Communication Centre (Eupatoria). Lovell alleged that his hosts tried to kill him with a lethal radiation dose because he was head of the Jodrell Bank space telescope when it was also being used as part of an early warning system for Soviet nuclear attacks. Lovell wrote a full account of the incident which, at his determination, was only published after his death.
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.
Awards and honours
Lovell won numerous awards including:
- 1946 – Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
- 1955 – Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
- 1960 – Royal Medal
- 1961 – Knight Bachelor
- 1967 – Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science), University of Bath
- 1969 – Lorimer Medal of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh
- 1969–71 – President of the Royal Astronomical Society
- 1980 – Benjamin Franklin Medal
- 1981 – Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
In later life Lovell was physically very frail; he 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.
- Smith, F. G.; Davies, R.; Lyne, A. (2012). "Bernard Lovell (1913–2012)". Nature. 488 (7413): 592. Bibcode:2012Natur.488..592S. doi:10.1038/488592a.
- Anon (2007). "Sir Bernard Lovell at Jodrell Bank". Astronomy & Geophysics. 48 (5): 5.21. Bibcode:2007A&G....48e..21.. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4004.2007.48521.x.
- Zijlstra, A. A.; Davis, R. J. (2012). "Sir Bernard Lovell (1913–2012)". Science. 337 (6100): 1307. Bibcode:2012Sci...337.1307Z. doi:10.1126/science.1229080. PMID 22984062.
- "Sir Bernard Lovell | Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics". Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "Lovell, Bernard (1913–)". Wolfram Research. Retrieved 2006-11-22.
- Davies, Rodney D.; Graham-Smith, Francis; Lyne, Andrew G. (2016). "Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell OBE. 31 August 1913 — 6 August 2012". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2015.0026.
- GRO Register of Births: DEC 1913 5c 885 KEYNSHAM – Alfred CB Lovell, mmn = Adams
- Don R. Hecker (8 August 2012). "Sir Bernard Lovell dies at 98; a radio telescope bears his name". New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Bernard Lovell: 2 – Secondary school & the lecture that changed my life". Web of Stories. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- Index to Theses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Theses.com (3 August 2012). Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
- Lovell, A. C. B. (1936). "The Electrical Conductivity of Thin Metallic Films. I. Rubidium on Pyrex Glass Surfaces". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 157 (891): 311. Bibcode:1936RSPSA.157..311L. doi:10.1098/rspa.1936.0197.
- Appleyard, E. T. S.; Lovell, A. C. B. (1937). "The Electrical Conductivity of Thin Metallic Films. II. Caesium and Potassium on Pyrex Glass Surfaces". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 158 (895): 718. Bibcode:1937RSPSA.158..718A. doi:10.1098/rspa.1937.0050.
- Lovell, A. C. B. (1938). "The Electrical Conductivity of Thin Metallic Films. III. Alkali Films with the Properties of the Normal Metal". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 166 (925): 270. Bibcode:1938RSPSA.166..270L. doi:10.1098/rspa.1938.0092.
- "Bernard Lovell / Astronomer". Webofstories.com. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- "Student Memories of Bristol" (PDF). Physics.bristol.ac.uk 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- Lovell, A. C. B. (1939). "Shower Production by Penetrating Cosmic Rays". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 172 (951): 568. Bibcode:1939RSPSA.172..568L. doi:10.1098/rspa.1939.0122.
- Blackett, P. M. S.; Lovell, A. C. B. (1941). "Radio Echoes and Cosmic Ray Showers". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 177 (969): 183. Bibcode:1941RSPSA.177..183B. doi:10.1098/rspa.1941.0003.
- Lovell, A. C. B.; Clegg, J. A. (1948). "Characteristics of Radio Echoes from Meteor Trails: I. The Intensity of the Radio Reflections and Electron Density in the Trails". Proceedings of the Physical Society. 60 (5): 491. Bibcode:1948PPS....60..491L. doi:10.1088/0959-5309/60/5/312.
- "78 – Work on meteors at Jodrell Bank: observing the Giacobinid meteor shower of 1946". Webofstories.com. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- Bernard Lovell telling his life story at Web of Stories
- Article about Bernard Lovell's life, by John Bromley Davenport in The Daily Telegraph, 19 Apr 2011.
- Imperial War Museum Interview
- "BBC Radio 4 – The Reith Lectures, Bernard Lovell: The Individual and the Universe: 1958". Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "Sir Bernard Lovell". Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester 28 August 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- "Sir Bernard Lovell School in Oldland Common". Retrieved 2006-11-22.
- "Sir Bernard Lovell claims Russians tried to kill him with radiation". The Telegraph. 22 May 2009.
- "Sir Bernard Lovell (1913-2012)". Retrieved 2018-10-06.
- "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Bernard Lovell". Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- Murray, Andy (2006). Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale (paperback). London: Headpress. p. 28. ISBN 1-900486-50-4.
- Renn, D. F.; Steeds, A. J. (June 1976). "The British Association for the Advancement of Science: Annual Meeting 1975, Guildford". Journal of the Institute of Actuaries. 103 (1): 113–115. doi:10.1017/s0020268100017790. JSTOR 10.2307/41140365.
- Honorary Graduates 1966 to 1988 | University of Bath. Bath.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
- "LOVELL, Sir Alfred Charles Bernard, Who Was Who". A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2015; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014; online edn. April 2014. Retrieved 17 Nov 2015.
- "BBC News – Astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell dies". BBC. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- Sir Bernard Lovell, University of Manchester, 7 August 2012
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