Ruby Payne-Scott: a pioneer in radio astronomy

(Source: New York Times via Howard Bailen)

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times.

By Rebecca Halleck
Every so often our sun emits an invisible burst of energy.

This energy ripples through space as electromagnetic waves and then crashes into planets and meteors and space debris and one another, causing a great cacophony above and around us.

A cacophony that was inaudible, until Ruby Payne-Scott entered a laboratory.

In the 1940s, Payne-Scott helped lay the foundation for a new field of science called radio astronomy. Her work led to the discovery of deep-space phenomena like black holes and pulsars and later helped astronauts understand how solar storms disrupt weather in space and electrical grids on Earth.

Yet as a married woman she was denied equal employment status and compensation. She challenged the scientific establishment in her native Australia and fought for the rights of women in the workplace, but ultimately left science to raise her children full time.

World War II opened the door to Payne-Scott’s scientific career. The Australian armed forces needed physicists, and men were joining the military to fight instead.[…]

Continue reading the full article at the NY Times.

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