Friday, February 19, 2010

Bill Gordon

Via every major newpaper on the planet comes the sad news that Bill Gordon, designer of the massive Arecibo radio telescope, died at 92.

Gordon was born in Paterson, NJ in 1907. He earned his master's degree from NYU and his doctorate from Cornell, where he taught from 1953 to 1966. He later taught at Rice University from 1966 to 1985.

He was one of the major designers of Arecibo in the 1950s; he later said, "We were in the position of trying to do something that was impossible, and it took a lot of guts and we were young enough that we didn't know we couldn't do it".

Since its opening in 1963, Arecibo has been used for all kinds of research, including determining Mercury's rotation period, discovering numerous pulsars, proving the existance of neutron stars, imaging asteroids, observing planetary features, and radio spectroscopy.

It was also used during the cold war to locate Soviet radar stations by observing their signals.... BOUNCED OFF THE MOON.

It also notably appeared in Goldeneye.

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