Ruby Payne Scott was born on May 28, 1912 in Grafton, New South Wales, the daughter of Cyril and Amy Payne-Scott. She was part of a group of radar scientists during the second world war that, in effect, paved the way for the new field of radio astronomy. Her colleagues referred to her as “Red Ruby” for her reputed ties to the communist party, but also for her activism in promoting equal rights for women. She had to hide her marriage in 1944 to Bill Hall to work full-time as a scientist, and had to “retire” from the field in 1951, when she got pregnant with her first child, Peter. Today would have been her one hundred and seventh birthday.
Most people know that radar is used to detect the
presence (direction, distance, and speed) of aircraft, ships, and other objects.
It can do this by sending out pulses of high-frequency radio waves that are reflected off
the object back to the source. Radar was used extensively by all divisions of
the armed forces in World War II as an early warning detection system for aircraft. If you were a physicist during the war
effort, you were either working ...