As someone who dropped all three sciences at the first opportunity when at school, I suppose I’ve been combatting my ignorance in these fields ever since, which might explain a recurring theme that’s been in my thoughts for the last week. When driving I’ve taken to supplementing my diet of Radio 4 with podcasts of some of their programmes that my work schedule forces me to miss, and so this week I’ve enjoyed Robin Ince and Professor Brian Cox‘s irreverent science show The Infinite Monkey Cage discussing the invisible universe, Professor Stephen Hawking’s first two Reith Lectures on black holes, and at the weekend found myself watching The Martian with my eldest daughter.
Space. (And how difficult it was not to follow that with the next line from the opening voice over of Star Trek).
Was it coincidence then that I arrived in Cheshire for my work this week at a small village just a short distance (everything is relative in space) from a rather unusual Grade I listed building? Or was it written in the stars? These posts have regularly featured architectural masterpieces that have garnered that status, but this must be the first time that I’ve written about a tool that is protected in that way, and how else would you describe today’s subject?
The Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory was built in 1957 and was at the time the world’s largest radio telescope, and though superseded since it retains the bronze medal position. It’s still in use and over the years it has played a role in a great deal of important research and discovery, much of which is meaningless to me, though the tracking of various space probes and the discovery of many pulsars I can cope with.
The telescope is also something of a celebrity; it has featured on stamps, in the film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, two episodes of Doctor Who (Tom Baker’s Doctor regenerating after falling from the dish) and some music videos. Inevitably one of these was for D:Ream, and if you need that one explaining shame on you. You know even less than I do and perhaps you should follow the link above for Professor Brian Cox!