Today sees the official operational launch of the Pawsey Centre, a world-class supercomputing facility in Perth, Western Australia. One of the Centre’s major roles will be to process and store data from CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope.
Who was Joe Pawsey, after whom the Centre is named?
Joseph (Joe) Pawsey, born in 1908, was a CSIRO physicist. He is widely acknowledged as the “father” of radio astronomy in Australia, someone who led and inspired research teams that produced pioneering results.
He didn’t live very long: he died when he was just 54. He didn’t publish many papers. But he was so respected that he was both elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, London, and became a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
The Academy commemorates him through its Pawsey medal, which it awards each year to an outstanding young Australian physicist.
Paul Wild, a radio astronomer who became Chairman of CSIRO, said that Joe Pawsey provided the ideal conditions for people to work under and achieve.
As well as being an outstanding leader, Joe Pawsey got the Australian radio astronomers using a process called interferometry, which is the basis for CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder and Australia Telescope Compact Array — indeed, for any radio telescope where several antennas work together as one instrument.
His work laid the foundations for Australian radio astronomy. And so it’s particularly appropriate for his name to be remembered in the Pawsey Centre.
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