The first pulsars, starting with B1919+21, were discovered in the late 1960s in data from the Interplanetary Scintillation Array at Cambridge. The data from the telescope was recorded on paper by four chart recorders, producing around 100 feet of paper per day and around 5 km over the first six months of observations, all of which was pored over manually. For periods during the process of looking through it, the paper was stored in shoe boxes.

I know that at least a portion of the paper containing the charts from the initial discovery still survives in the Cambridge University Library, and has been displayed publicly, but I'm wondering what happened to the rest of the data from that six-month period of observations. Is it in Cambridge's collections in physical form? Has it been digitized for posterity? Is it elsewhere, or lost? I could try to contact the Library if needed, but it's possible that the answer is already out there and I've simply missed it.

  • $\begingroup$ The Churchill Archive at Cambridge page suggests that the chart you have linked is the only one in the possession of the Cambridge archive, so if any additional original material exists, then it must be located elsewhere. Perhaps Professor MacKay has some additional material in his personal archive. $\endgroup$
    – nwr
    Jun 13 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ My guess would be that if paper showed nothing of interest it was tossed in the bin fairly quickly. Potentially interesting bits would have hung around until analyzed to see if they actually were interesting. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 16 at 20:33


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