Bernard Lovell

Bernard Lovell

Sir Bernard Lovell
Sir Bernard Lovell in 2000
Born Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell
(1913-08-31)31 August 1913
Oldland Common, Bristol, England
Died 6 August 2012(2012-08-06) (aged 98)
Swettenham, Cheshire, England
Nationality British
Alma mater King's Oak Academy; University of Bristol
Thesis The electrical conductivity of thin metallic films (1936)
Known for Radio astronomy
Notable awards

Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell, OBE, FRS (31 August 1913 – 6 August 2012) was an English physicist and radio astronomer. He was the first Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, from 1945 to 1980.[1][2][3][4][5]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Awards and honours 3
    • Lectures 3.1
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Lovell was born at Oldland Common, Bristol in 1913,[6] the son of Gilbert and Emily Laura Lovell.[7] His childhood hobbies and interests included cricket and music – mainly the piano. He attended Kingswood Grammar School, now King's Oak Academy.[8]


Lovell studied

  • Bernard Lovell telling his life story at Web of Stories
  • Article about Bernard Lovell's life, by John Bromley Davenport in The Daily Telegraph, 19 Apr 2011.
  • Imperial War Museum Interview

External links

  1. ^  
  2. ^ Anon (2007). "Sir Bernard Lovell at Jodrell Bank". Astronomy & Geophysics 48 (5): 5.21.  
  3. ^ Zijlstra, A. A.; Davis, R. J. (2012). "Sir Bernard Lovell (1913-2012)". Science 337 (6100): 1307.  
  4. ^ "Sir Bernard Lovell | Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics". Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  5. ^ "Lovell, Bernard (1913–)".  
  6. ^ GRO Register of Births: DEC 1913 5c 885 KEYNSHAM – Alfred CB Lovell, mmn = Adams
  7. ^ a b Don R. Hecker (8 August 2012). "Sir Bernard Lovell dies at 98; a radio telescope bears his name". New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bernard Lovell: 2 – Secondary school & the lecture that changed my life".  
  9. ^ Index to Theses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. (3 August 2012). Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  10. ^ Lovell, A. C. B. (1936). "The Electrical Conductivity of Thin Metallic Films. I. Rubidium on Pyrex Glass Surfaces". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 157 (891): 311.  
  11. ^ Appleyard, E. T. S.; Lovell, A. C. B. (1937). "The Electrical Conductivity of Thin Metallic Films. II. Caesium and Potassium on Pyrex Glass Surfaces". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 158 (895): 718.  
  12. ^ Lovell, A. C. B. (1938). "The Electrical Conductivity of Thin Metallic Films. III. Alkali Films with the Properties of the Normal Metal". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 166 (925): 270.  
  13. ^ "Bernard Lovell / Astronomer". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Student Memories of Bristol" (PDF). 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Lovell, A. C. B. (1939). "Shower Production by Penetrating Cosmic Rays". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 172 (951): 568.  
  16. ^ Blackett, P. M. S.; Lovell, A. C. B. (1941). "Radio Echoes and Cosmic Ray Showers". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 177 (969): 183.  
  17. ^ Lovell, A. C. B.; Clegg, J. A. (1948). "Characteristics of Radio Echoes from Meteor Trails: I. The Intensity of the Radio Reflections and Electron Density in the Trails". Proceedings of the Physical Society 60 (5): 491.  
  18. ^ "78 – Work on meteors at Jodrell Bank: observing the Giacobinid meteor shower of 1946". Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  19. ^ a b "BBC Radio 4 – The Reith Lectures, Bernard Lovell: The Individual and the Universe: 1958". Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  20. ^ "Sir Bernard Lovell". Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester 28 August 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  21. ^ "Sir Bernard Lovell School in Oldland Common". Retrieved 2006-11-22. 
  22. ^ "Sir Bernard Lovell claims Russians tried to kill him with radiation". The Telegraph. 22 May 2009. 
  23. ^ "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Bernard Lovell". Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  24. ^ Murray, Andy (2006). Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale (paperback). London: Headpress. p. 28.  
  25. ^ "BBC News – Astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell dies". BBC. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  26. ^ Sir Bernard Lovell, University of Manchester, 7 August 2012
  27. ^ Honorary Graduates 1966 to 1988 | University of Bath. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  28. ^ Renn, D. F.; Steeds, A. J. (June 1976). "The British Association for the Advancement of Science: Annual Meeting 1975, Guildford". Journal of the Institute of Actuaries 103 (1): 113–115.  
  29. ^ Anon (1958). "Books reviewed: The Exploration of Space by Radio. By R. Hanbury Brown and A. C. B. Lovell Farming Weather By L. P. Smith. The Threshold of Space. Ed. M. Zelikoff". Weather 13 (9): 317–318.  


  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1936). "Electrical Conductivity of Thin Films of Rubidium on Glass Surfaces". Nature 137 (3464): 493.  
  • Jánossy, L.; Lovell, A. C. B. (1938). "Nature of Extensive Cosmic Ray Showers". Nature 142 (3598): 716.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B.; Wilson, J. G. (1939). "Investigation of Cosmic Ray Showers of Atmospheric Origin, using Two Cloud Chambers". Nature 144 (3655): 863.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B.; Banwell, C. J. (1946). "Abnormal Solar Radiation on 72 Megacycles". Nature 158 (4015): 517.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B.; Clegg, J. A.; Ellyett, C. D. (1947). "Radio Echoes from the Aurora Borealis". Nature 160 (4063): 372.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1947). "Meteors, Comets and Meteoric Ionization". Nature 160 (4055): 76.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1947). "Electron Density in Meteor Trails". Nature 160 (4072): 670.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1948). "Combined Radar, Photographic and Visual Observations of the Perseid Meteor Shower of 1947". Nature 161 (4086): 280.  
  • Little, C. G.; Lovell, A. C. B. (1950). "Origin of the Fluctuations in the Intensity of Radio Waves from Galactic Sources: Jodrell Bank Observations". Nature 165 (4194): 423.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1951). "The New Science of Radio Astronomy". Nature 167 (4238): 94.  
  • Lovell, Bernard (1952). Radio astronomy. Chapman & Hall. 
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1953). "Radio Stars". Scientific American 188: 17.  
  • Lovell, Bernard (1954). Meteor astronomy (International series of monographs on physics). Clarendon P. 
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1957). "The Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope". Nature 180 (4576): 60.  
  • Lovell, Bernard (1958) The Individual and the Universe BBC Reith Lectures[19]
  • Davies, J. G.; Lovell, A. C. B. (15 August 1959). "Observations of the Russian Moon Rocket: Lunik II".  
  • Lovell, Bernard (1959). The Individual and the Universe.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1960). "Investigation of the Universe by Radio Astronomy". Nature 188 (4744): 13–14.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1960). "The exploration of outer space". The Observatory 80: 64–72.  
  • Lovell, Bernard (1962). The exploration of outer space. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-217618-8 (hardcover). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1962). Exploration of Space by Radio. Chap. & H. ISBN 0-412-06020-5 (hardcover). [29]
  • Lovell, A. C. B. (1963). "Compton lectures on the universe". Nature 197 (4864): 216–216.  
  • Lovell, Bernard (1963). Discovering the universe. Benn.  
  • Lovell, A. C. B.; Whipple, F. L.; Solomon, L. H. (1964). "Observation of a Solar Type Radio Burst from a Flare Star". Nature 201 (4923): 1013.  
  • Lovell, Bernard; Margerison (editor), T. (1967). Explosion of Science: Physical Universe. Thames & Hudson Ltd. ISBN 0-500-01038-2 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1967). Our Present Knowledge of the Universe. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-0314-8 (hardback) ISBN 0-7190-0313-X (paperback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1967). The explosion of science: The physical universe. Thames & Hudson. 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1968). Story of Jodrell Bank. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-217619-6 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard, ed. (1970). Royal Institution Library of Science: Discourses, 1851–1939: Astronomy. Elsevier. ISBN 0-444-20102-5 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1973). The Origins and International Economics of Space Exploration. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-85224-256-5 (hardback) ISBN 0-470-54851-7. 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1973). Out of the Zenith: Jodrell Bank, 1957–70. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-217624-2 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1975). Man's Relation to the Universe. W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd. ISBN 0-7167-0356-4 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1976). P.M.S.Blackett: A Biographical Memoir. The Royal Society. ISBN 0-85403-077-8 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1979). In the Centre of Immensities. Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-136780-8 (hardback) ISBN 0-586-08362-6 (paperback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1980). Emerging Cosmology: Convergence. Greenwood Press. ISBN 1-58348-113-3 (paperback reprint) ISBN 0-03-001009-8 (paperback) ISBN 0-275-91790-8 (paperback) ISBN 0-448-15517-6 (hardback) ISBN 0-231-05304-5 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1985). The Jodrell Bank Telescopes. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-858178-5 (hardback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1987). Voice of the Universe: Building the Jodrell Bank Telescope. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-275-92678-8 (hardback) ISBN 0-275-92679-6 (paperback). 
  • Lovell, Bernard; Francis Graham-Smith (1988). Pathways to the Universe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32004-6 (hardcover). 
  • Lovell, Bernard (1990). Astronomer by Chance.  
  • Lovell, Bernard (1991). Echoes of War: The Story of  
  • Lovell, Bernard; Guy Hartcup (2000). The Effect of Science on the Second World War. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-67061-2 (hardback) ISBN 1-4039-0643-2 (paperback). 


In 1965 he was invited to co-deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on Exploration of the Universe. In 1975 he gave the presidential address (In the Centre of Immensities) to the British Association meeting in Guildford.[28]


Lovell won numerous awards including:

Awards and honours

Lovell died at home in Cheshire on 6 August 2012.[25][26]

Physically very frail, Lovell lived in quiet retirement in the English countryside, surrounded by music, his books and a vast garden filled with trees he himself planted many decades before.

The first name of the fictional scientist Bernard Quatermass, the hero of several BBC Television science-fiction serials of the 1950s, was chosen in honour of Lovell.[24]

Lovell was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[23]

In 2009, Lovell spoke of a claimed assassination attempt in Deep-Space Communication Center (Eupatoria) during the Cold War where the Soviets allegedly tried to kill him with a lethal radiation dose. At the time, Lovell was head of the Jodrell Bank space telescope that was also being used as part of an early warning system for Soviet nuclear attacks. Lovell wrote a full account of the incident, to be published only after his death.[22]

Lovell was knighted in 1961[20] for his important contributions to the development of radio astronomy, and has a secondary school named after him in Oldland Common, Bristol, which he officially opened.[21] A building on the QinetiQ site in Malvern is also named after him.

In 1959, he was invited to deliver the MacMillan Memorial Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He chose the subject 'Radio Astronomy and the Structure of the Universe'.

In 1958, Lovell was invited by the BBC to deliver the annual Reith Lectures, a series of six radio broadcasts called The Individual and the Universe,[19] in which he examined the history of enquiry into the solar system and the origin of the universe.

Portrait by Reginald Gray, 1966, for the New York Times

He attempted to continue his studies of cosmic rays with an ex-military radar detector unit, but suffered much background interference from the electric trams on Manchester's Oxford Road. He moved his equipment to a more remote location, one which was free from such electrical interference, and where he established the Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Goostrey in Cheshire. It was an outpost of the University's botany department. In the course of his experiments, he was able to show that radar echoes could be obtained from daytime meteor showers as they entered the Earth's atmosphere and ionised the surrounding air. With University funding, he constructed the then-largest steerable radio telescope in the world, which now bears his name – the Lovell Telescope. Over 50 years later, it remains a productive radio telescope, now operated mostly as part of the MERLIN and European VLBI Network interferometric arrays of radio telescopes.

[18] in 1946.OBE, while on a test flight. For his work on H2S Lovell received an Alan Blumlein engineer EMI that had crashed killing a number of his colleagues, including Handley Page Halifax from the wreckage of a cavity magnetron, during which in June 1942 he was involved in the recovery of a highly secret H2S systems to be installed in aircraft, among them radar (TRE) developing Telecommunications Research Establishment, during which he worked for the World War II until the outbreak of [17][16][15][15]University of Manchester research team at the cosmic ray He worked in the [14][13]