Antony Hewish

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Fowey, Cornwall
Birth Sign
Fowey, Cornwall

Antony Hewish is a radio astronomer from the United Kingdom who is best known for discovering the first pulsar. Born in England in the mid-1920s, he attended King’s College, Somerset, and then Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. While still a student at Caius, he was assigned to the Telecommunications Research Establishment as part of his war service to work with Martin Ryle on airborne radar countermeasure devices. It sparked an interest in radio astronomy in him. He was also influenced by his teacher Jack Ratcliffe, the head of radio physics at Cavendish Laboratory, when he returned to his college at the end of the war. As a result, he joined Ryle’s group at Cavendish Laboratory immediately after earning his bachelor’s degree and began working with him. He also taught at Churchill College, Cambridge, concurrently. He accomplished a great deal during the 1960s. He designed the Interplanetary Scintillation Array at Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory during this time period and discovered the first pulsar with graduate student Jocelyn Bell. He was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for this work. Although Bell did not receive the award, Hewish did not overlook her contribution.

Childhood & Adolescence

Antony Hewish was born in Fowey, Cornwall, on 11 May 1924. He was the youngest of his parents’ three sons. His father was a banker.
His father was transferred to Newquay, a town on the Atlantic Ocean’s coast, shortly after his birth. Antony spent his formative years in this town. He developed an affinity for the sea and boats during his time here.

Antony’s education began in Newquay. Their home was perched atop his father’s bank. He was permitted to establish a laboratory here, and one of his early electrical experiments blew the fuse for the entire building.

He later enrolled in secondary education at King’s College, an independent co-educational secondary boarding school in Taunton, Somerset. He graduated from there in 1942 with a respectable grade.

He then enrolled at the University of Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College, where he studied physics and radiology. He was drafted into military service within a year and was assigned to work at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough and then at the Telecommunications Research Establishment in Malvern in 1943.

He met Martin Ryle at TRE, where he was working on a radar system for the Royal Air Force at the time. Anthony Hewish joined him to assist him with the development of his airborne radar countermeasure devices.

Hewish rejoined the University of Cambridge in 1946 after being discharged from the war services and continued his undergraduate studies in physics at Caius. Here, he was heavily influenced by Jack Ratcliffe, the Cavendish Laboratory’s head of radio physics. Hewish later became interested in radio astronomy as a result of his lectures on electromagnetic theory.

Hewish earned his bachelor’s degree in 1948. Martin Ryle had already established an excellent research group at Cavendish Laboratory and was conducting research on extraterrestrial radio sources. Hewish joined the group immediately after receiving his degree and began working on the ionosphere’s twinkling galaxies.

In 1952, he earned a PhD. ‘The fluctuations of galactic radio waves’ was the title of his dissertation. Following that, he continued to work at the Cavendish laboratory with Martin Ryle.

Career of Antony Hewish

Hewish began his career as a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College shortly after receiving his degree in 1952. He continued to collaborate with Martin Ryle on radio astronomy throughout.

Hewish remained on the Caius staff until 1961. He was then transferred to Churchill College as a lecturer, where he remained until 1969. Hewish was extremely productive during this time period. He made a number of significant discoveries during this time period.

He invented a method for the first ground-based measurements of the solar wind in 1964. He also demonstrated how interplanetary scintillation could be used in radio astronomy to obtain extremely high angular resolution. Simultaneously, he began designing the Interplanetary Scintillation Array.

The array, which was constructed at Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in 1967, was designed to monitor interplanetary scintillation by measuring the high-frequency fluctuations of radio sources. It initially covered an area of 16,000 m2, and with the assistance of his student Jocelyn Bell, Hewish quickly discovered the first pulsar.

He was appointed Reader at Churchill College in 1969 and continued his research in radio astronomy. He was later promoted to the position of Professor of Astronomy in 1971.

Martin Ryle, the head of the Cambridge Radio Astronomy Group, fell ill in 1977. Hewish assumed his position and assumed leadership of the research group. He was also appointed a Professor of the Royal Institution, London, in the same year.

In 1982, he was appointed director of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, a position he held until 1988. He was finally discharged from active duty in 1989.

Significant Work of Antony Hewish

Hewish is best known as the inventor of the Interplanetary Scintillation Array, abbreviated as IPS or Pulsar Array. After demonstrating how interplanetary scintillation could be used to achieve high angular resolution, he decided to build a massive phased-array antenna for a major sky survey, which would be unlike any other radio telescope currently in use. He began work on it in 1965 after receiving a £20,000 grant. By 1967, the array was completed, and in July, they began their sky survey.

Jocelyn Bell, who joined the team as a graduate student in 1965, was not only on the construction team, but was also assigned the task of analyzing the paper charts once the survey began. Almost immediately, she noticed one enthralling source that varied from week to week.

Initially, it was mistaken for a radio flare star. Additionally, some members believed it was caused by either earthly interference or intelligent life forms attempting to communicate with earth. Finally, Hewish identified it as energy emissions from a cluster of neutron stars called a pulsar cluster.

Awards and Accomplishments

In 1974, Antony Hewish and Martin Ryle shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for “their pioneering research in radio astrophysics: Ryle for his observations and inventions, most notably the aperture synthesis technique, and Hewish for his pivotal role in the discovery of pulsars.” The prize was awarded for the first time in observational astronomy.

Additionally, Hewish received the Royal Astronomical Society’s Eddington Medal in 1969; the International Union of Radio Science’s Dellinger Gold Medal in 1972; the Franklin Institute’s Albert A. Michelson Medal in 1973; and the Royal Society’s Hughes Medal in 1977.

Hewish was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1968 and an Institute of Physics Fellow in 1998. (FInstP).

Private Life of Antony Hewish

Marjorie Elizabeth Catherine Richards Hewish married Marjorie Elizabeth Catherine Richards in 1950. The couple is the parents of two children, a boy and a girl. Their son is a physicist with a doctorate in neutron scattering in liquids, and their daughter is a language instructor.

Hewish believes science and religion are mutually reinforcing. In the foreword to John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale’s ‘Questions of Truth,’ he declared that “the ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense.” He continued, “We should be prepared to accept that the most fundamental aspects of our existence transcend our common sense comprehension.”

Estimated Net Worth

Antony, who earned between $3 million and $5 million, has a net worth of between $3 million and $5 million. Antony earned the majority of his money from his Yeezy sneakers. While he exaggerated the size of his business over the years, the money he earned from his profession was genuine–enough to rank as one of the largest celebrity cashouts of all time. His primary source of income was as a successful Astronomer.


Jocelyn Bell’s exclusion from the Nobel Prize was criticized by many colleagues, most notably Fred Hoyle. Her contribution, however, did not go unnoticed. The previous year, she was co-recipient of the Franklin Institute’s Albert A. Michelson Medal with Hewish.

Apart from teaching physics at Cambridge University, he enjoyed communicating with the general public about the excitement of his research at the Royal Institute in London. As he has stated, “I enjoy the challenge of explaining complex concepts in an understandable manner.”