William E. Gordon
|William E. Gordon|
Bill at AO visitor center Nov. 2003
|Born||William Edwin Gordon
January 8, 1918
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||February 16, 2010
Ithaca, New York, U.S.
|Fields||engineering, space science, astronomy|
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
|Doctoral advisor||Henry G Booker|
|Doctoral students||Herbert C. Carlson, Richard A. Behnke, David Coco, Anthea Coster, Frank Djuth, Lewis Duncan, Daniel Fleisch, Alfred Frey, Robert M. Harper, Zhong-hao Huang, Ivan Kantor, Steve Noble, Vincent B. Wickwar|
|Known for||Designing the largest radio telescope|
|Notable awards||Arctowski Medal (1984)|
He was born in Paterson, New Jersey on January 8, 1918, he received a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University in 1953. He was a faculty member at Cornell University from 1953 to 1965. He joined the faculty of Rice University in 1966, serving as Dean of Science and Engineering, Dean of Natural Sciences, and Provost and Vice President.
Gordon wanted to study the properties of the Earth's upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, and thought that he could use a radar system to measure the density and temperature in this difficult-to-study atmospheric region. His calculations indicated that an antenna approximately 305 meters (1,000 ft) in diameter would do the job, but would be far too expensive to build using existing designs for radio and radar antennas. He designed the massive radar / radio telescope and oversaw its construction in the karst foothills just south of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. At its fortieth anniversary, it was named both a "Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing" and also a "Mechanical Engineering Landmark" 
He served as the Director of the resultant Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory from 1960 to 1965. Encouraged by work at the Platteville Atmospheric Observatory, Gordon was influential in getting an ionospheric heater built at Islote, about 30 km from the Arecibo Observatory, which operated until 1998 when it was destroyed by Hurricane Georges.
In 1966 he moved to Rice University to become Dean of Science and Engineering and a faculty member of both the Department of Space Science (later Space Physics and Astronomy) and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He subsequently served as Vice President and Provost. He guided 12 doctoral dissertations while serving as administrator.
He retired in 1986 to become Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Space Physics and Astronomy and of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University. He was a member of many respected professional and academic societies, including the National Academy of Sciences (since 1968) and National Academy of Engineering (since 1975). In 1984 Gordon was awarded the Arctowski Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, (since 1986).
- Martin, Douglas (February 26, 2010). "W. E. Gordon, Creator of Link to Deep Space, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
William E. Gordon, an electrical engineer who conceived, designed, built and operated the world’s largest radio telescope, which has been described as Earth’s ear to outer space, died on Feb. 16 at his home in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 92. ...
- Weil, Martin (2010-02-21). "William E. Gordon, 92; father of Arecibo radio telescope". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
- Gold, Lauren (2010-02-21). "William E. Gordon -- 1918-2010". Computespace. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
- Farley, Donald (2010-03-24). "Obituary: William E. Gordon (1918-2010)". Nature. 464: 502. doi:10.1038/464502a.
- "Arctowski Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- William E. Gordon Papers collection at the Fondren Library, Woodsen Research Center at Rice University.
The William E. Gordon Papers range in date from 1947 to 1994, inclusive (bulk 1975–1990), and arranged in three series: Material in the collection includes publications and research reports (many of which concern findings from research conducted at the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto Rico), talks and lectures, reprints, office files, and alphabetical subject files, which include records of professional organizations and activities in which Dr. Gordon participated.
- Milestones – NAIC/Arecibo Radiotelescope, 1963 IEEE History Center
- Tor Hagfors recalls bringing the heater to Arecibo
- Obituary published in the Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (BAAS).
- National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir