I'm always amazed at how much some of us are able to cram into a single and short lifetime. Today, Arthur Davidsen, an Astrophysicist at John Hopkins University, passed away at the age of 57. What the son of Norwegian immigrants was able to accomplish and enjoy in that short time is amazing.
Born in 1944, on Long Island, N.Y., Davidsen's mother was a housekeeper and his father, a commercial fisherman. Yet he grew up to attend Princeton, where he played drums in a rock band, and with friends, created what we might call today, a hack. They created a background and test scores for a student who didn't exist, and gained this ghost admittance to Princeton. As a Princeton grad, Davidsen had his sights set on Berkeley, but Vietnam had its sights set on him and he spent five years in the Navy, ending up at the Naval Research Center.
His interests in space research began there, and afterwards, with John Hopkins, he began to build and launch instruments into space to measure ultraviolet radiation. In 1977, he and his team sent "their" telescope into space to capture the first ultraviolet spectrum of a quasar, and they did. He was eventually presented with the American Astronomical Association's prize for outstanding research for an astronomer under the age of 36.
He went on to bigger and better things, and telescopes, with one known as HUT, to study other solar system objects. They used the powerful beacons known as quasars to search through space in order to detect traces of what might have been left from the Big Bang. Thanks to his herculean efforts, the school was able to bring on board, the Space Telescope Science Institute and later begin to examine data from the Hubble Space Telescope.
At the end, he was still a musician, a biker, a scientist, a professor of physics and astronomy, and in his spare time , he was trying to figure out how to map the universe. He could have used a little more time, but he did plenty with the time he had.