Lovell and his telescopic vision

This will be my last post about the Saturday Times books supplement, mainly because Jenny wants to play Sims, for which she needs my computer as the DVD player doesn’t work on hers. (Yes, I could use hers to continue posting, but I’ve got bored for the moment and want to go and read my book in a snatched Sunday moment of peace). So although there are a couple of other things I have to write, I’ll content myself with one only, an excellent article by Giles Whittell about Sir Bernard Lovell, inventor (is that the word?) of the Jodrell Bank radiotelescope among many other achievements.

In 1957 the project was behind schedule and over budget. At that time, everyone was obsessed with Sputnik, which was thought might be able to carry an intercontinental ballistic missile. Hence came the famous call from Whitehall. "Lovell and his team worked nonstop for 48 hours turning their giant listening device into something that could also transmit. ‘A few days after the launch we got this marvellous echo from the carrier rocket. In fact I think I have it here.’ He [the 94-year old Lovell] pulls an old photograph from the pile on his desk — a photograph of a man and a line across the screen. ‘There’s me pointing to the echo, which no man had yet seen. I had a camera photographing the cathode ray tube and this was shown to the press about an hour later. This was the ICBM moving over Cumbria at 17,000 mph. It was dramatic.’  "

Wonderful stuff. The article is in support of a new First Move literary festival , from 15 to 17 June, celebrating the first time the Lovell telescope (at Jodrell Bank) moved under power.

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