Almost 60 years after her retirement in 1951, why is the life of Ruby Payne-Scott of
significance to us? She was a unique scientist working in one of the first major solar
radio astronomy groups after the end of World War II. This fortunate circumstance
was due to the experience she gained working on radar at the major Australian
laboratory during World War II. Payne-Scott was a pioneer Australian scientist
leading the charge for equality of women in the work place.
This is an unusual book, combining as it does papers on astrobiology,
history of astronomy and sundials, but—after all—Woody Sullivan is an
unusual man. In late 2003 I spent two fruitful and enjoyable months in the
Astronomy Department at the University of Washington (UW) working on
archival material accumulated over the decades by Woody, for a book we
will co-author with Jessica Chapman on the early development of Australian
Astronomy is certainly the oldest science and that of astronomer probably the
oldest profession. This second assertion is notoriously debatable, but one can safely
assume that in a primitive civilized society the (remunerated) shaman or priest had to
be an astronomer to be credible.
Astronomy is the most ancient science humans have practiced on Earth.
It is a science of extremes and of large numbers: extremes of time – from the
big bang to infinity –, of distances, of temperatures, of density and masses,
of magnetic field, etc.
The history of science shows many close connections between physics and
astronomy. It is well known that a number of physical laws evolved from a base
of astronomical observations. For example, Kepler observed and, later Newton
derived, the laws of gravitation while studying the motion of planets and their
satellites. The existence of thermonuclear energy was solidly established when
it explained the energy balance of the Sun and stars.
A multitude of measurement units exist within astronomy, some of which are
unique to the subject, causing discrepancies that are particularly apparent when
astronomers collaborate with other disciplines in science and engineering. The
International System of Units (SI) is based on a set of seven fundamental units
from which other units may be derived. However, many astronomers are reluctant
to drop their old and familiar systems. This handbook demonstrates the ease with
which transformations from old units to SI units may be made.
Fourier methods have revolutionized ﬁelds of science and engineering, from radio astronomy to medical imaging, from seismology to spectroscopy. In this chapter, we present some of the basic applications of Fourier and spectral methods that have made these revolutions possible.
Traditionally astrophysics has concerned itself with minimum time-scales measured
in hours rather than seconds. This was understandable as the available recording
media were slow; e.g. chart recorders and photographic plates. In the 1950s, 60s
and 70s wavebands away from the optical were developed; from ground based
radio studies to space and balloon borne high energy work. In contrast to optical
wavelengths instrumentation in these (high and low energy) regimes was capable
of time resolutions of less than a second....