Physics, Elevated

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Photos of the Month - November 2018

Audrey Lengel, Photo Archivist

Last month, we explored the world of subterranean physics through photographs and this month, we’re coming up for air and then continuing even further up as we look at elevated physics equipment, high above the surface of the Earth. This selection includes a variety of tall structures and equipment designed to conduct atmospheric, solar, and other types of research, including telescopes, balloons, and antennas. You’ll also see one of the few photos in our collections taken in Antarctica!

For more examples of sky-high physics, search for your favorite observatory or telescope in our quick search or, for those of you who aren’t afraid of heights, check out this shot of William Hershberger on a ladder I’d never be brave enough to climb!

A 70-foot vertical array of 12 antenna dishes, located outside of Stanford University, measured “atmospheric effects on microwave communications signals in the 3,000 megacycle range.” Grad student Donald C. Cox, who worked on the project, stands to the right of the tower, circa 1967.

Credit line: Stanford University Jose Mercado Stanford News Service, News Service Number 5125-2

John A. Brown and Emmett J. Pybus from the Ballistic Research Laboratories release a balloon in the Antarctic, circa 1961. This project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, studied upper atmosphere water vapor.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection

1940: Robert Goddard (upper right) and others adjust a rocket from the launching tower prior to the installation of the sheath and cap.

Credit line: Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart copyright National Geographic Society/ Esther C. Goddard Photograph

This photo, taken on the Alsos Mission following World War II, shows a former radar flak tower in Vienna, Austria, that was then used as a jail for SS officers, circa 1945.

Credit line: Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Gift of Michaele Thurgood Haynes and Terry Thurgood, Thurgood Collection

The Snow Solar Telescope and two 60- and 150-foot Solar Tower telescopes at Mount Wilson used by George Hale for solar research. The Snow Solar Telescope was the first one installed at the Mount Wilson Solar Observatory.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

A Lockheed C-141A “Starlifter”, which housed the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a 36-inch telescope designed and operated by NASA Ames Research Center.

Credit line: NASA, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Erickson Collection