arno penzias


Hey, space witches! Did you know that thanks to NASA’s Voyager missions in the 70s, we have up-close audio recordings off all the major celestial objects in our solar system. More accurately, they’re recordings of Sol’s electromagnetic waves reflecting off the planets and their respective atmospheres and magnetospheres, translated into sound. It’s great background noise for any cosmic ritual or meditation, esp if you’re trying to invoke a certain planet.









Pluto & Charon (b/c of New Horizons, we have TONS of new audio)

And as if that wasn’t enough, thanks to the discoveries of Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in 1965, we know that the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation detectable across the whole sky emits a sound like a brutal howling windstorm. The CMBR is the leftover radiation from the big bang. Cosmic expansion has stretched these waves so far that they have been distorted from high-frequency gamma waves to moderately low-frequency microwaves.

This is audio of the universe’s creation:

devonknowsall  asked:

What's your favourite story about how something scientific got discovered?

It would probably have to be how the Cosmic Microwave Background was discovered. For those who don’t know, the CMB is the “afterglow” of the big bang. In 1964, Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias were experimenting with a radio antenna, and they kept getting a strange background noise from all parts of the sky. Naturally, they thought the problem was with their own antenna, and at first blamed it on pigeon droppings. But after thoroughly cleaning it out, the noise remained. They later found they had accidentally stumbled upon the CMB, the oldest light in the universe.

I love this story, because it means that the ancient light left over from the big bang, the earliest picture of our universe, and indeed one of the most important discoveries ever made in cosmology, was initially mistaken for bird poo.

The 15 meter Holmdel horn antenna at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey was built in 1959 for pioneering work in communication satellites for the NASA ECHO I. The antenna was 50 feet in length and the entire structure weighed about 18 tons. It was comprised of aluminum with a steel base. It was used to detect radio waves that bounced off Project ECHO balloon satellites. The horn was later modified to work with the Telstar Communication Satellite frequencies as a receiver for broadcast signals from the satellite. In 1964, radio astronomers Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation with it, for which they were awarded the 1978 Nobel prize in physice. In 1990 the horn was dedicated to the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark.

This type of antenna is called a Hogg horn antenna, invented by D. L. Hogg at Bell Labs in 1961. It consists of a flaring metal horn with a reflector mounted in the mouth at a 45° angle, so the antenna receives radio waves at a 90° angle to the horn axis. The reflector is a segment of a parabolic reflector, so the antenna is equivalent to a parabolic antenna fed off-axis. This type of antenna has characteristics that make it a good radio telescope: it has very broad bandwidth, the aperture efficiency can be calculated accurately, and the horn shields the antenna from electrical noise coming from angles outside the beam axis, so it picks up little thermal ground noise.


The ten greatest discoveries of the last ten decades

“1960s — After some 20 years of debate, the key observation that would decide the history of the Universe was uncovered: the discovery of the predicted leftover glow from the Big Bang, or the Cosmic Microwave Background. This uniform, 2.725 K radiation was discovered in 1965 by Arno Penzias and Bob Wilson, neither of whom realized what they had discovered at first. Yet over time, the full, blackbody spectrum of this radiation and even its fluctuations were measured, showing us that the Universe started with a “bang” after all.”

Considering what we know about our Universe today, it’s hard to believe that just a century ago, Einstein’s General Relativity was very much untested and uncertain, and we hadn’t even realized that anything at all lie outside our own Milky Way. But over the past ten decades, ten great discoveries have taken place to give us the Universe we understand today.
Complete with the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, cosmic inflation and so much more, one can’t help but wonder what the current decade — or even the coming decades — might hold to open up our understanding of the Universe even further.


Fifty years ago today, two astronomers made a discovery that forever changed our understanding of the universe. 

On May 20, 1964, American radio astronomers Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias pointed their antenna at empty patches of sky, and stumbled on a low-level hiss that would turn out to be cosmic radiation—cosmic microwave background—evidence for the Big Bang theory of the beginning of the universe. 

Learn more about this monumental discovery.