SETI bioastro: FW: Moon dust - Oxford DNB Life of the Day

From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Thu May 22 2008 - 04:11:08 PDT

  • Next message: LARRY KLAES: "SETI bioastro: Sun's properties not 'fine-tuned' for life"

    >From: oxforddnb-lotd_at_OUP.COM
    >Reply-To: epm-oxforddnb_at_OUP.COM
    >To: ODNBLIFEOFTHEDAY-L_at_webber.uk.oup.com
    >Subject: Moon dust - Oxford DNB Life of the Day
    >Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 12:00:00 +0100
    >
    >The latest update to the Oxford DNB is published on 22 May.
    >
    >The new update adds 91 biographies of men and women active from the first
    >to the twentieth century, with a special focus on garden designers, shapers
    >of empire and Commonwealth, and the pre-Reformation episcopacy.
    >
    >May’s update also adds 45 new group essays to our collection of articles
    >charting well-known clubs, gangs, and coteries in British history.
    >
    >Browse the full list of new content:
    >http://www.oup.com/oxforddnb/info/prelims/title/newlives/
    >
    >Read free extracts from the update:
    >http://www.oup.com/oxforddnb/info/freeodnb/magazine/may/
    >
    >Read the editor’s introduction to the update:
    >http://www.oup.com/oxforddnb/info/prelims/title/preface/
    >
    >A full listing of the Oxford DNB’s 210 group essays published so far is
    >available (for all readers with subscriber access) in the Themes area:
    >http://www.oxforddnb.com/themes/
    >
    >
    >========================================================================
    >
    >
    >
    >To read this Life of the Day complete with a picture of the subject,
    >visit http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/lotw/2008-05-22
    >
    >
    >
    >Gold, Thomas [Tommy] (1920-2004), astrophysicist, was born on 22 May
    >1920 in Vienna, Austria, the son of Max Gold, a wealthy industrialist and a
    >director of Austria's largest mining company, and his wife, Josefine, nee
    >Martin, a former child actress. His early childhood was spent in a
    >privileged environment, and it seemed natural that he would follow his
    >father into business. However, the steep economic downturn in Europe at the
    >end of the 1920s threatened the mining industry, so the family moved to
    >Berlin, where his father took a more secure position as a metals trader. In
    >1933, after Hitler's rise to power, the family left Germany, Gold's father
    >being Jewish, to spend four years travelling through Europe before settling
    >in England in 1937. Gold was educated at the Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz in
    >Switzerland, where he boarded. He then moved to England, where he spent one
    >year learning Latin so that he could matriculate at the University of
    >Cambridge. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1939 to read
    >mechanical sciences, but received little teaching because within weeks the
    >university was drained of its academic staff, who had been swiftly drafted
    >into war work.
    >
    >Hitler's rapid advance in Belgium and France in May 1940 led on 12 May to
    >the internment of all men of German or Austrian descent who were resident
    >in eastern England. Thus it was that Tommy Gold and Hermann Bondi (who had
    >also fled Vienna) met behind barbed wire on a concrete floor, and
    >immediately became good friends. They were transferred to a camp in Canada
    >for several months, then released to return to Cambridge in 1941, where
    >Gold completed his engineering degree, gaining a miserable result, an
    >ordinary degree, in June 1942. By this stage Bondi had joined Fred Hoyle on
    >radar research for the Royal Navy. Bondi pressed Hoyle to hire Gold as a
    >practically minded member of Hoyle's theory group. Thereafter Hoyle, Bondi,
    >and Gold shared a rented house where they whiled away their evenings
    >working speculatively in astrophysics. An unlikely chain of events that had
    >commenced in 1933 led to Gold becoming an innovative scientist, rather than
    >the entrepreneur his father had intended.
    >
    >Gold quickly became an indispensable member of Hoyle's group, working on
    >how the state of the sea affected the radar visibility for aircraft-mounted
    >radar. He then solved the problem of how a large number of landing craft
    >could accurately navigate by radar to their correct landing spots on D-day.
    >His greatest contribution to the naval intelligence service was his
    >discovery in early 1944 that the German navy was fitting snorkels to many
    >of its submarines, enabling them to recharge their batteries without
    >surfacing. He worked in naval intelligence until 1947, when he returned to
    >Cambridge as a junior research fellow at Trinity College. The same year he
    >married Merle Eleanor Tuberg, an American astrophysicist; they had three
    >daughters, Linda, Lucy, and Tanya. That marriage was dissolved, and in 1972
    >he married Carvel B. Beyer, with whom he had a fourth daughter, Lauren.
    >
    >In 1948 Gold, Bondi, and Hoyle proposed a new theory about the origin of
    >the universe, which they named steady-state cosmology. Gold's contribution
    >was in the setting of an intellectual puzzle: what properties would the
    >universe need to have if its overall appearance were to remain
    >approximately the same in all locations and at all epochs? Gold knew that
    >such a model would require the continuous creation of matter in order to
    >fill the voids left by the expansion of the universe. In the UK this
    >steady-state cosmology seized the imagination of the general public,
    >although it was never taken seriously in professional circles, despite the
    >vociferous advocacy of its three proponents. With the discovery, in 1963,
    >of cosmic microwave background radiation the rival big bang theory became
    >the consensus cosmology, despite which Gold never lost his faith in
    >steady-state cosmology.
    >
    >Gold's interests always ranged widely, encompassing physiology, astronomy,
    >geophysics, and engineering. The department of physics at Cambridge found
    >this broad spectrum attractive, and had appointed him a demonstrator in
    >1949. This brought him into direct contact with Martin Ryle, head of the
    >radio group at Cambridge, with whom Hoyle was already conducting furious
    >public arguments. Gold rather unwisely joined the fray on Hoyle's side,
    >loudly criticizing Ryle for the latter's belief that cosmic radio sources
    >are stars in the Milky Way, rather than extragalactic objects. Gold's
    >undisciplined behaviour led to his modest appointment not being renewed,
    >and his future did not look promising. Nevertheless his luck changed
    >remarkably when the astronomer royal, Sir Harold Spencer Jones, offered him
    >the prestigious post of chief assistant at the Royal Greenwich Observatory,
    >which had moved out of London to Herstmonceux on the Sussex coast. There
    >Gold was given a free hand, and he moved into the new field of space
    >research. He took the first steps in subject areas that would hold his
    >attention: the nature of the lunar surface, and solar-terrestrial
    >relations. An opportunity to organize an expedition to watch an eclipse
    >deepened his interest in the action of magnetic fields in space, and the
    >ejection of high-energy particles in solar flares. In 1959 he coined the
    >expression 'magnetosphere' for the region above the ionosphere in which the
    >magnetic field of the earth has a dominant control over the motions of gas
    >and fast charged particles.
    >
    >Gold resigned abruptly from the Royal Observatory in 1956, on finding that
    >he could not work with the new astronomer royal, Richard Woolley. He had
    >earlier taken the precaution of visiting several centres for astronomical
    >research in the USA, which led to an invitation to spend a semester at
    >Cornell. Consequently Gold and his wife left England for good in 1956.
    >Harvard offered him a chair in radio astronomy in 1957. However, he and his
    >family could not settle in Massachusetts, so when, in 1959, Cornell offered
    >him the headship of its department of astronomy he accepted. This was his
    >final move. At Cornell he founded, and directed for twenty-two years, the
    >Center for Radio Physics and Space Research, the world's first institute
    >dedicated to space research. He and his Cornell colleagues persuaded the US
    >Defense Department to fund the construction of a giant radio telescope to
    >observe the ionosphere. First operated in 1963, this instrument, located
    >near Arecibo in Puerto Rico, was the world's largest single-dish radio
    >telescope.
    >
    >During preparations in the late 1960s for a lunar landing Gold became
    >embroiled in controversy by asserting that a thick layer of dust on the
    >lunar surface could pose a threat to astronauts. He had made no detailed
    >calculations, but incautiously remarked that the dust could be several
    >metres thick. This caused panic at NASA: a robotic craft was dispatched to
    >check that the risk was small in the designated landing zone. Relations
    >between NASA and Gold subsequently improved, and he served with distinction
    >on NASA's science advisory committee. He strenuously opposed manned space
    >flight programmes, and the development of the shuttle, on the grounds that
    >robotic instruments could deliver the science at much lower cost.
    >
    >The discovery of pulsars by the radio astronomy group at Cambridge in 1968
    >excited worldwide interest: what were these extraordinary objects?
    >Ironically, when opposing Ryle seventeen years earlier, Gold had worked on
    >the properties of small stars with very strong magnetic fields, and had
    >suggested they would emit intense radiation. For him it was a small step to
    >suggest that a pulsar is a rotating neutron star, an object the properties
    >of which he had already predicted. His paper on this model was refused at
    >the first international conference on pulsars, but the journal Nature
    >published it immediately. Gold predicted that radio astronomers should be
    >able to detect pulsars with shorter periods than when first discovered, and
    >he concluded that a pulsar would slow down over time as it loses its
    >rotational energy. Both predictions were quickly confirmed by the Arecibo
    >telescope, with the discovery of a pulsar with a period of 0.033 seconds in
    >the Crab nebula. Gold's success encouraged theorists, most notably Stephen
    >Hawking, to work on even more extreme objects, black holes.
    >
    >Gold became deeply fascinated by the origin of petroleum, a topic he had
    >first pondered in the early 1950s, when he suggested a possible abiogenic
    >cause. In 1980 he speculated that fossil fuels are not fossil at all, but
    >rather that they are the result of the constant upwelling of hydrocarbons
    >from deep below the earth's surface, where they have been trapped since our
    >planet's formation 4.5 billion years ago. His conclusion was that the human
    >race could meet its energy needs for thousands of years by the simple
    >expedient of drilling ever more deeply. These speculations earned him the
    >derision of geophysicists. Nevertheless he remained convinced, and in 1999
    >he elaborated further by suggesting that the biological markers present in
    >petroleum have arisen from biological action on primordial methane, and
    >that they are not evidence for a biological origin for petroleum.
    >
    >Gold's many honours included being made a fellow of the Royal Society
    >(1964), a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1974), and a
    >member of the National Academy of Sciences (1974), and he was a recipient
    >of the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1985). He suffered a
    >heart attack in 1985, and officially retired the following year. He died on
    >22 June 2004 at Cayuga Medical Center, Ithaca, New York, of heart disease,
    >and was survived by his wife, Carvel, and his four daughters.
    >
    >Simon Mitton
    >
    >Sources Cornell University press release, 22 June 2004 + The Guardian (24
    >June 2004) + Daily Telegraph (25 June 2004) + The Scotsman (26 June 2004) +
    >The Times (28 June 2004) + The Independent (29 June 2004) + Nature,
    >430/6998 (22 July 2004), 415 + Y. Terzian, 'Thomas Gold, 1920-2004',
    >Astronomy and Geophysics, 46/1 (Feb 2005), 38 + H. Bondi, Memoirs FRS, 52
    >(2006), 117-35 + WW (2004) + personal knowledge (2008) + private
    >information (2008)
    >Archives FILM BFI NFTVA, documentary footage SOUND BL NSA, Scientifically
    >Speaking, interview with J. Maddox
    >Likenesses obituary photographs · photograph, Cornell University [see
    >illus.]
    >
    >
    ˙
    >
    >========================================================================
    >© Oxford University Press, 2004. See legal notice:
    >http://www.oup.com/oxforddnb/legal/
    >
    >We hope you have enjoyed this Life of The Day, but if you do wish to stop
    >receiving these messages, please EITHER send a message to
    >LISTSERV_at_WEBBER.UK.OUP.COM with
    >
    >signoff ODNBLIFEOFTHEDAY-L
    >
    >in the body (not the subject line) of the message
    >
    >OR
    >
    >send an email to epm-oxforddnb_at_oup.com, asking us to stop sending you
    >these messages.


  • Next message: LARRY KLAES: "SETI bioastro: Sun's properties not 'fine-tuned' for life"

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.6 : Fri May 23 2008 - 08:20:05 PDT