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Monday, May 20 2024 @ 06:37 pm EDT

Preservation of the Horn Antenna

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Dear Members of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society

      I am writing every Astronomy Club and Astronomical Society that I can, individually, to ask for your assistance in saving the Bell Labs Horn Antenna from ruin. I am not selling anything nor am I asking for money. This is not SPAM nor is it an automated email. If you are like me, you are not an activist at heart but just want to enjoy the science of astronomy with friends and associates.  To do this we are, as Sir Isaac Newton put it so succinctly, “Standing on the shoulders of giants”. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were not the tallest of those giants but they did make a revolutionary discovery when they used the Horn Antenna to discover the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation left from the Big Bang creation of the universe. Penzias and Wilson were awarded Nobel Prizes and went on to have successful careers.  The Horn Antenna underwent a much different fate. It was soon surpassed by newer technology and abandoned. In 1989 it was awarded the status of a National Historic Landmark and you would have thought that having that status would have provided it with the care and maintenance it required and deserved. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The National Park System has no power to force the owners and caretakers of National Historic Landmarks to provide any care at all. Because of this, it was easy for Alcatel-Lucent Technologies, the company that took over Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey, to simply ignore their civic obligation. A personal visit to the site revealed to me that they had done just that. I ask that you look at the web site that I have created, www.hornantennatoday.com and to recommend it to the members of your Astronomical organization.

     Once you have seen what has become of that once great technological marvel I hope that you will feel the sadness and anger that I feel. If you do, I ask that you email Paul Ross, Director of Corporate Communications for Alcatel-Lucent Bell Lab at, Paul.Ross@alcatel-Lucent.com and urge that the Horn Antenna be donated to either the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia or The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

     Please let me know that you have done this so that, once they know that I am not alone in this quest, I can contact them again and try to lead them to the proper decision.

     Any help that you provide will be very helpful and appreciated more than you will ever know. Sometimes I feel like Don Quixote on his lone quest.

     I thank you for your time and cooperation.

Cordially yours,

Allan Cook, Amateur Astronomer


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