Ruby Payne-Scott: the first female radio astronomer


Today May 28, 2012 Google Australia is commemorating the life of Ruby Payne-Scott. Today would have marked her 100th Birthday. The Google Doodle is made up by various elements closely related to the work and legacy of Ruby Payne-Scott. In the doodle one can see sign of Astronomy, Radio Equipment and a Cartoon of Ruby Payne-Scott.

Ruby Payne-Scott

“Screenshot of the Google Doodle remembering Australian  physicists Ruby Payne-Scottt, May 28, 2012”

Who was Ruby Payne-Scott

She was born in Grafton, New South Wales in Australia on May 28, 1912. She is considered as one of Australia’s pioneers in radio-physics and radio-astronomy and the first female radio astronomer. She studied in Sydney Australia at the University of Sydney where she completed her B.Sc in Physics and a M.Sc Degree. She also completed a diploma in Education.

Ruby Payne-Scott was a phenomenal woman and one of the more outstanding physicists Australia has ever produced.

Wikipedia – Ruby Payne-Scott

Her career arguably reached its zenith while working for the Australian government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (then called CSIR, now known as CSIRO) at Dover Heights, Hornsby and especially Potts Hill in Sydney, Australia. Some of her fundamental contributions to solar radio astronomy came at the end of this period. She is the discoverer of Type I and Type III bursts and participated in the recognition of Type II and IV bursts.

Payne-Scott played a major role in the first-ever radio astronomical interferometer observation from 26 January 1946, when the sea-cliff interferometer was used to determine the position and angular size of a solar burst. This observation occurred at either Dover Heights (ex Army shore defense radar) or at Beacon Hill, near Collaroy on Sydney’s north shore (ex Royal Australian Air Force surveillance radar establishment – however this radar did not become active until early 1950).

During World War II, she was engaged in top secret work investigating radar. She was the expert on the detection of aircraft using PPI (Plan Position Indicator) displays. She was also at the time a member of the Communist Party and an early advocate for women’s rights.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) was interested in Paine-Scott and had a substantial file on her activities, with some distortions – Source Wikipedia

Ruby Payne-Scott