ZWICKY

And the honorable mentions are...


ENTRY: FRITZ ZWICKY ADVANCED X-RAY ASTROPHYSICS FACILITY
NAME:Derek Fox
SCHOOL: MIT
NEWSPAPER: Honolulu Advertiser
Fritz Zwicky (1898-1974) was one of the greatest modern astronomers, and a true visionary. He coined the term "supernova," and was the first to understand that they resulted from the explosion of massive stars. He advanced (with Walter Baade) the idea that they might be responsible for the Galaxy's supply of high-energy cosmic rays, and that they might leave behind neutron stars as end products. Observationally, he was personally responsible for the discovery of dozens of supernovae, where prior to his time only 12 had been known. He made a systematic study of galaxy clusters, and was the first person to "weigh" a cluster (Coma) by means of its galaxy velocity dispersions, thereby discovering the dark matter whose mass dominates these clusters -- although this finding was not widely accepted for decades after. Finally, while at Aerojet Engineering Corp. during WWII the made important contributions to the design of jet engines. Because of the importance of supernova, supernova remnant, neutron star, and galaxy cluster observations to AXAF (not to mention aerospace technology!), and because of the fundamental nature of Zwicky's contribution in each case; for his vision and for his versatility, Fritz Zwicky deserves to have this Great Observatory named after him.

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ENTRY: ZWICKY
NAME: BILL CREUTZ
NEWSPAPER: THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN
I would like to propose that the AXAF be named for the Swiss-American physicist and astronomer Fritz Zwicky (1898-1974). Educated in Switzerland, Zwicky came to the United States in 1925 and spent a long and productive career at Caltech. In the 1930s, he and his colleague Walter Baade were among the first to suggest that supernovae were exploding stars whose cores collapsed to form small, ultradense neutron stars, and that supernovae were a source of cosmic rays. Zwicky soon turned his talents to the study of galaxy clusters. He found that the velocities of galaxies within the Coma cluster were surprisingly high, and that the cluster simply should have flown apart long ago. Though Zwicky's data were scanty, subsequent studied of other clusters, notably Virgo, essentially confirmed his results. Zwicky inferred that there must be more to galaxies than meets the eye--invisible mass, or "dark matter," as he called it in a 1933 paper. To learn how much mass galaxies actually contain, Zwicky proposed searching for gravitational lensing effects, the multiple images created as massive objects distort the passing light from objects beyond. If named for Fritz Zwicky, the AXAF would honor a pioneer in the centennial year of his birth, a brilliant and original (if sometimes contentious) thinker whose accomplishment certainly touch on some aspects of the AXAF's mission. Though the work appeared some 60 years ago, some of the topics Zwicky explored, particularly gravitational lensing and the dark matter issue, still ring current as the AXAF prepares to fly and we approach 2000, a year Zwicky wished to see, report author Macia Bartusiak, as it would have meant his life had "touched three centuries." Finally, though it may seem frivolous, the name "Zwicky" is somehow fun to say. At least I have thought so, assuming my pronunciation is correct, rhyming "zwick" with "quick." It also engages and entertains the ear. It is, in a word, memorable, and memorable words seemed touched by poetry. Presumably, the AXAF will be before the public's eyes for a long time, likely making discoveries to rival those of the Hubble Space Telescope. The name may stimulate people to look into the life and work behind the name. If the name is "Zwicky," they will find there someone who produced a prodigious amount of work as he explored multiple avenues in physics and astronomy, someone who conducted supernova searches with an eighteen-inch telescope, an aperture available (albeit at some cost) to today's amateurs, someone fascinating, competitive, human. Under whatever name it flies, I wish AXAF well.

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