BELL, Jocelyn; A. Hewish; J. D. H. Pilkington; P. F. Scott; R. A. Collins.

Observation of a Rapidly Pulsating Radio Source.

[Offprint from:] Nature, Vol. 217, No. 5130, pp. 709-713, February 24, 1968.

London: Macmillan, 1968 Stock Code: 131009
£7,500.00

The paper announcing "one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the 20th century"

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Notes

First edition, the extremely rare offprint, of the landmark paper which announced the discovery of pulsars, co-authored by British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell and her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, and three others; with a meaningful provenance, being bound eleventh in a volume of related offprints from the library of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, where the research leading to this discovery was carried out. Library Hub locates just one copy of the offprint, in the collections of the Royal Society; WorldCat locates none further. Two copies of the issue of Nature in which the article appears have surfaced at auction (Bonhams 2010), but the offprint has not.

In 1967 Bell (b. 1943), while a doctoral student at Cambridge University, made her discovery using a telescope that she and Hewish had originally built to study the recently detected star-like quasars. Over time she noted a regular signal, unlike that produced by stars, galaxies, and solar wind, that pulsed approximately once every 1.3 seconds; they nicknamed the signal LGM-1 for "Little Green Man 1", a humorous nod to the quickly-dismissed thought that they might have recorded extraterrestrial contact. Bell and Hewish announced their findings in the present paper, despite not having yet determined the nature of the source, and it immediately prompted speculation. The source was soon determined to be a pulsar: a rapidly spinning neutron star which emits an intense beam of electromagnetic radiation. Hewish, a well-established astronomer who had planned the experiment and had a major role in explaining the observation, was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for his role in the discovery, sharing the honour with Bell's other supervisor, Martin Ryle; it was the first Nobel prize awarded in recognition of astronomical research. Despite the fact that she was the first to notice the stellar radio source, however, Bell was not formally acknowledged, and Hewish defended the Nobel decision, calling Bell's contribution "useful" but "not creative". It was and still is seen by many as one of the greatest injustices in the history of the prize. Bell remained remarkably magnanimous, even joking when she attended the prize ceremony as the guest of another astronomer, Joseph Taylor Jr, in 1993 that she "did get to go in the end" (Hargittai, p. 130). Bell later explained that, "at that time there was still around the picture that science was done by great men (and they were men). These great men had under them a group of assistants, who were much more lowly and much less intelligent, and were not expected to think, they just carried out the great man's instructions What has happened in the last 30 years is that we've come to understand that science is much more a team effort, with lots of people contributing ideas and suggestions" (quoted in Hargittai, p. 72). Proof of this change in perspective arose in September 2018, when Bell (now Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell) won the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics both for her discovery of pulsars and for her inspiring leadership over the past five decades. She donated the entirety of the 2.3 million prize money to initiatives which support women, ethnic minority, and refugee students in the study of physics.

The Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO), located just outside Cambridge, opened in 1957 under the directorship of Ryle. The group of scientists who conducted research there became known as the Cavendish Astrophysics Group, and counted Malcolm Longair, Richard Edwin Hills, and the Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques among its members, as well as Hewish and Bell. The MRAO is now home to a number of the largest and most advanced aperture synthesis radio telescopes in the world.

In all this is a fine copy of the groundbreaking paper which documented "one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the 20th century" (Royal Society).

The eighteen further works in this volume are as follows:

a) SCHEUER, P. A. G. Radio astronomy and cosmology. To be published in Vol. IX of "Stars and Stellar Systems", edited by A. R. Sandage. Mullard Radio Astronomy Laboratory, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge. Pp. i, 66, 9; 3 fold-out plates. Pre-publication typescript printed on rectos only (published at Chicago in 1975).

b) U.R.S.I. Union of Radio Science: XVth General Assembly held in Munich, 1966. British National Report: Commission V: Radio Astronomy. Pp. 15, 1. Pre-publication typescript (published at Munich in 1966).

c) WILLS, D. The radio frequency spectra of NGC 1052 and NGC 4278. Offprint from: Astrophysical Letters, 1968, Vol. 2, pp. 187-190. Glasgow: Gordon & Breach, 1968.

d) . An investigation of some radio sources detected in high frequency surveys. Offprint from: Astrophysical Letters, 1968, Vol. 2, pp. 247-252. Glasgow: Gordon & Breach, 1968.

e) WYNN-WILLIAMS, C. G. Radio emission from the vicinity of the galactic nebula NGC 6857. Offprint from: Astrophysical Letters, 1969, Vol. 3, pp. 195-199. Glasgow: Gordon & Breach, 1968.

f) PARKER, E. A., B. Elsmore, & J. R. Shakeshaft. Positions of radio sources measured with the one-mile radio telescope. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 210, No. 5031, pp. 22-23, April 2, 1966. London: Macmillan, 1966. Single sheet.

g) DENNISON, P. A. The solar wind outside the plane of the ecliptic. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 213, No. 5074, pp. 343-346, January 28, 1967. London: Macmillan, 1967.

h) POOLEY, G. G., & S. Kenderdine. Radio emission from the nucleus of the Andromeda nebula. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 214, No. 5094, pp. 1190-92, June 17, 1967. London: Macmillan, 1967. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

i) LONGAIR, M. S., & P. A. G. Scheuer. Red-shift magnitude relation for quasi-stellar objects. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 215, No. 5104, pp. 919-922, August 26, 1967. London: Macmillan, 1967. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

j) HOWELL, T. F., & J. R. Shakeshaft. Spectrum of the 3K cosmic microwave radiation. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 216, No. 5117, pp. 753-754, November 25, 1967. London: Macmillan, 1967. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

k) SKILLING, J. Oscillations of Hamada-Salpeter white dwarfs including general relativistic effects. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 218, No. 5145, pp. 923-924, June 8, 1968. London: Macmillan, 1968. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

l) SCHEUER, P. A. G. Amplitude variations in pulsed radio sources. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 218, No. 5145, pp. 920-922, June 8, 1968. London: Macmillan, 1968. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

m) MACKAY, C. D., B. Elsmore, & J. A. Bailey. Accurate positions of CP0950 and CP1133. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 219, No. 5149, pp. 21-23, July 6, 1968. London: Macmillan, 1968. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

n) COLE, T. W., & J. D. H. Pilkington. Search for pulsating radio sources in the declination range + 44 < δ < + 90. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 219, No. 5154, pp. 574-576, August 10, 1968. London: Macmillan, 1968. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

o) COLE, T. W. Stability of pulsar periods. Offprint from: Nature, Vol. 221, No. 5175, pp. 29-31, January 4, 1969. London: Macmillan, 1969. Original blue printed stiff wrappers.

p) WILLIAMS, P. J. S., S. Kenderdine, & J. E. Baldwin. A survey of radio sources and background radiation at 38 Mc/s. Offprint from: Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society (1966), 70, pp. 53-110. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1966. Original orange printed stiff wrappers.

q) GOWER, J. F. R., P. F. Scott, & D. Wills. The Fourth Cambridge Survey of Radio Sources: a survey of radio sources in the declination ranges -07 to 20 and 40 to 80. Offprint from: Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society (1967), 71, pp. 49-144. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1967. Original orange printed stiff wrappers.

r) CASWELL, J. L., J. H. Crowther, & D. J. Holden (communicated by P. F. Scott). A survey of radio emission at 178 MHz. Offprint from: Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society (1967), 72, pp. 1-34. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1966.

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Description

Quarto (260 x 210 mm). Original blue printed stiff wrappers. Bound with 18 other offprints and separate publications relating to pulsars and radio astronomy in contemporary red cloth, spine lettered "Radio Astronomy XVIII" in gilt. With a 2 page typed index loosely inserted.

Condition

With the library stamps of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge to several of the works; the occasional pencil and ink annotations noting the same provenance. Spine and inner edges of boards faintly sunned, a few stab holes and rust marks from previous staples visible at gutters of publications, closed tear to inner margin of title page for work a). All in fine or near-fine condition.

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