-- It was Einstein who made the real trouble. He announced in 1905 that there was
no such thing as absolute rest. After that there never was.
-- Steven Leacock
The field of radio astronomy was
first stumbled upon by Karl G Jansky. He was working at Bell Telephone laboratories
in 1932 attempting to find a way to reduce static in telephone lines generated by
thunderstorms and lightning. He did find what he was looking for but he also found
that there was still static even after the storms were compensated for. This second
interference source seemed to be present 24 hours a day, and was not associated
with anything man-made. So, this eventually led him to the assumption that the signal
was not originating on earth at all, instead, the signal seemed to be coming from
someplace other than our own solar system. In fact, the radiation he was detecting
was coming from the direction of the center of the galaxy. This was the first recognized
detection of radio emission from sources other than earth.
“Microwave radiation due to transitions
between the hyperfine components of atomic hydrogen in interstellar space was first
detected by Ewen and Purcell and independently by Muller and Oort”(Townes and Schawlow,
146). The region is at 1420.405 MHz and corresponds to a wavelength of 21.11 cm.