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Professor Hewish won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 (together with fellow radio-astronomer Martin Ryle) for his work on the development of radio aperture synthesis and its role in the discovery of pulsars. He was also awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1969.
An undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, Hewish then joined the Cavendish Laboratory as a graduate student, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1952. Hewish made both practical and theoretical advances in the observation and exploitation of the apparent scintillations of radio sources due to their radiation impinging upon plasma. This led him to propose, and secure funding for, the construction of the Interplanetary Scintillation Array, a large array radio telescope at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO), Cambridge in order to conduct a high time-resolution radio survey of interplanetary scintillation.
Hewish was Professor of Radio Astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory from 1971 to 1989, and head of the MRAO from 1982 to 1988. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1968. He developed an association with the Royal Institution in London when it was directed by Sir Lawrence Bragg. In 1965 he was invited to co-deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on Exploration of the Universe. He subsequently gave several Friday Evening Discourses and was made a Professor of the Royal Institution in 1977. Hewish is a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.