12 EXHIBITION ARTIFACTS*
cage from the 100-inch Hooker telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory
1920s - Used by Edwin Hubble to photograph variable stars
in galaxies, showing for the first time unambiguously that they
are external to our Milky Way galaxy, and thus demonstrating that
the universe is made up of galaxies, not stars. Also, the cage
comes from the telescope that Hubble used in 1929 to determine
that galaxies are in flight away from one another, leading to
the acceptance of the concept that the universe is not static
but expanding and evolutionary.
20-foot telescope and mirror
1780s-1836 - Built and used by William Herschel and then
rebuilt and used by his son, John, to map the distributions of
stars and nebulae over the entire sky. William was the first to
produce observational evidence that indicated that the universe
may be far larger in extent than the limits of the Milky Way.
Camera for 200-inch telescope at Palomar Observatory (Calif.)
1950-1980 - Greatly refined and extended knowledge of the
expansion rate of the universe, and was instrumental in a recalibration
of the size and age of the universe in the 1950s.
used by Victor Hess to discover cosmic rays
1911-1913 - Flown by Hess in open basket balloons to show
that a residual charge in the atmosphere increases with height,
indicating that the source of that charge is cosmic and not terrestrial.
Space Telescope backup mirror, Wide-Field Planetary Camera components
and Faint Object Spectrograph
1980-2001 - Represents the first large-scale optical imaging
telescope system flown in space for astronomical research. Portions
of two of the original flown instruments were involved in the
confirmation of a super-massive black hole in the center of an
1980s - During two flights on the space shuttle aboard
Astro-1 and -2, detected the primordial structure and composition
of the universe at a time before galaxies existed.
Spectrograph from the Lick Observatory (Calif.) 36-inch Refractor
1895-1970 - The prototype design for high-accuracy radial
velocity observations, including the instrument that was used
at the Lowell Observatory (Ariz.) to first detect the high velocities
of spiral nebulae.
Trap that won a Nobel Prize
1960s - Appliance used by Penzias and Wilson to remove
birds, and therefore reduce thermal noise in their radio horn,
after which they realized that there was a residual radiation
that could not be attributed to any known terrestrial source.
Gamow's "Ylem" bottle
1940s - Commemorative icon created by Gamow from a liqueur
bottle to celebrate the fact that he and his colleagues were able
to predict, using modern nuclear physics, the primordial abundance
of the elements. (Ylem, pronounced EYE-lem, is an ancient term
for "the primordial substance.") As a by-product, they
realized that the radiation resulting from the Big Bang should
still be visible at vastly cold temperatures, some 3 degrees above
Carnegie Image-Tube Spectrograph
1970s-1980s - Very sensitive and efficient device that
she and Kent Ford placed at the ends of various large telescopes
to show that galaxies rotated strangely, suggesting that there
was a significant amount of unseen matter in galaxies contributing
to their dynamical behavior.
1980s - Very efficient galaxy spectrograph employing fiber
optics and digital detectors that was used to determine the motions
("z") of thousands of galaxies, and then, using the
Hubble law as a distance indicator, to deduce their spatial distribution.
Discovered that galaxies are not distributed uniformly, but in
clumps, bubbles and voids.
1980s - One of thousands of phototubes used in the second
version of the Kamiokande neutrino detector in Japan, which was
the first to detect the flux of neutrinos from a supernova in
1987, thus confirming their cosmological significance, and the
validity of nuclear theory bearing on the mechanisms of catastrophic
DeVorkin's prime criterion-selected artifact is a historic object
with a definite connection to discovering something new and important
about the universe.
the Universe Media Kit:
The Universe Press Release - September 13, 2001
Explore The Universe Curator's Top
Explore The Universe Interactive,
Graphic and Audiovisual Highlights
Explore The Universe Bios
Explore The Universe Quick Facts
Explore The Universe Fun Facts
Explore The Universe Imagery for Press
Online Exhibition: http://airandspace.si.edu/exploretheuniverse
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