The Bruce Medalists

 

  portrait Photo courtesy National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Grote Reber
22 December 1911 1962 Bruce Medalist 20 December 2002

Grote Reber, a young engineering graduate of what is now the Illinois Institute of Technology working as a radio engineer in Chicago, was the first to follow up Karl Jansky’s 1933 announcement of the discovery of radio waves from space. Devoting nights and weekends to his hobby Reber constructed a 9-meter dish antenna in his back yard in suburban Wheaton, Illinois and built three different detectors before finding signals at a frequency of 160 megahertz in 1939. His 1940 and 1944 publications of articles titled “Cosmic Static” in the Astrophysical Journal marked the beginning of intentional radio astronomy. He was the first to express received radio signals in terms of flux density and brightness, first to find evidence that galactic radiation is non-thermal, and first to produce radio maps of the sky. Later, after four years at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST), he went off on his own and pioneered in very long-wavelength radio astronomy, working in Tasmania, where the ionosphere is relatively transparent to such radiation. Reber was the second astronomer (after William Huggins) to be awarded the Bruce medal for work performed as an amateur. Reber remained a loner and essentially an amateur all his life. For his unconventional views on cosmology see his paper, “A Timeless, Boundless Equilibrium Universe.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Nicholson, Seth B., PASP 74, 183-86 (1962).

Other awards
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1962.
Franklin Institute, Elliot Cresson medal, 1963.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Jansky Prize, 1975.
Royal Astronomical Society, Jackson-Gwilt Medal, 1983, presented by M.J. Rycroft, Observatory 103, 226-27 (1983).

Biographical materials
Bitterman, Jay, Lake County Astronomical Society
Bouton, Ellen N. with Kenneth I. Kellermann, in Finding Aid to the Papers of Grote Reber, 1923-1999.
Dickey, John, The Father of Radio Astronomy: A Tour of the Grote Reber Museum in Tasmania
Dieckhoff, Kerby, Grote Reber: Radio Engineer and Physicist.
Feldman, Paul A., “Grote Reber: Yesterday and Today,” Sky & Telescope 76, 1, 31 (July 1988).
Ghigo, F., Grote Reber and His Radio Telescope
Kellermann, K.I., “Grote Reber (1911-2002): A Radio Astronomy Pioneer,” in Wayne Orchiston, ed., The New Astronomy: Opening the Electromagnetic Window and Expanding Our View of Planet Earth, (Springer, Dordrecht, 2005), pp. 43-70.
Kraus, J. D., “Grote Reber, Founder of Radio Astronomy,” JRASC 82, 3, 107-114 (1988).
Reber, Grote, “A Play Entitled the Beginning of Radio Astronomy,” JRASC 82, 3, 93-106 (1988).
Weisstein, Eric, Treasure Trove of Scientific Biography

Obituaries
Altmann, Carol, The Weekend Australian, 28 December 2002.
Finley, Dave, Mercury 32, 2, 6 (Mar/Apr 2003).
Griffin, Jake, Chicago Daily Herald, 27 December 2002.
Kellermann, K.I., Nature 421, 596 (2003).
Kellermann, Kenneth I., Bull. Am. Astr. Soc. 35, 1472-73 (2003).
Kellermann, K.I., PASP 116, 703-11 (2004).
National Association for Amateur Radio
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
O’Connor, Anahad, New York Times, 25 December 2002
Peratt, A.L., IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science 31, 1112-17 (2003).
Tyson, J. Anthony, Physics Today 56, 8, 63-64 (2003) .
Washington Post, 25 December 2002
Wright, Pearce, The Guardian, 3 January 2003

Portraits
AIP Center for History of Physics (three photos)
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (many)

Named after him
Minor Planet #6886 Grote
The Grote Reber Medal

More references

The Bruce Medalists


Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to
joe.tenn@sonoma.edu
JST
2015-10-25