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Puckish brilliance

Jim Westphal had an uncommon mind.
RELATED TOPICS: ASTRONOMY
Hester_Jeff
The scene is the Huntsville, Alabama, airport, circa 1978. Two astronomers are talking, waiting for their plane. They were at a meeting of the recently formed Space Telescope Science Working Group, hashing out details of what will one day be called Hubble. As conversation goes from topic to topic, they wonder what you could do if you pointed an orbiting 2.4-meter telescope down instead of up.

Both are future winners of MacArthur Foundation “genius grants.” One is Jim Gunn, a brilliant cosmologist known for his contributions to our understanding of the early universe, and for his penchant for rebuilding instruments during the day while observing at night.

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