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Release from the army and my desire to get back into research

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My paper on the story of the magnetron
Bernard Lovell Astronomer
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I, a few years ago now, probably the last paper I shall ever write, it was published I think by the Royal Society two or three years ago in 2003 or 4, something like that and I’d dealt with this remarkable story of the Germans knowing about the Magnetron but not using and it and of the American opposition, and I made this point about the different attitudes to scientists in the two countries, and I calculated that the belief in the secrecy of the Magnetron held up the operation of our equipment by six vital months, and I don’t think it made all that difference to Bomber Command, because they had OBOE and GEE working then, but it made a vital difference to Coastal Command, because in those six months I calculated that we lost nearly one million tons of merchant shipping, that we would not have lost if the Germans had not been, if we had changed the frequency of the Coastal Command equipment and- sorry if the Germans had not been so slow in detecting that we had changed the frequency, and if we could have used that six months earlier, I think we would have saved about one million tons of shipping, but of course that’s just calculation.

Bernard Lovell (1913-2012), British radio astronomer and founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, received an OBE in 1946 for his work on radar, and was knighted in 1961 for his contribution to the development of radio astronomy. He obtained a PhD in 1936 at the University of Bristol. His steerable radio telescope, which tracked Sputnik across the sky, is now named the Lovell telescope.

Listeners: Alastair Gunn Megan Argo

Alastair Gunn is an astrophysicist at Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester. He is responsible for the coordination and execution of international radio astronomical observations at the institute and his professional research concerns the extended atmospheres of highly active binary stars. Alastair has a deep interest and knowledge of the history of radio astronomy in general and of Jodrell Bank in particular. He has written extensively about Jodrell Bank's history.

Megan Argo is an astronomer at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory researching supernovae and star formation in nearby starburst galaxies. As well as research, she is involved with events in the Observatory's Visitor Centre explaining both astronomy and the history of the Observatory to the public.

Tags: Royal Society, Bomber Command, Oboe (navigation), Gee (navigation), Coastal Command

Duration: 1 minute, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2007

Date story went live: 05 September 2008