Alex Wolszczan, astronomy professor at Penn State, described at the Carl Sagan Institute inauguration how he examined pulsars via radio telescopes at Green Bank, West Virginia, and Arecibo, Puerto Rico – finding Earth-mass exoplanets in places where they’re not supposed to be. “Carl Sagan has been my inspiration in my efforts to popularize science,” Wolszczan said.
Biography: Professor Alexander Wolszczan is an astrophysicist whose research interests focus on astronomy of planets beyond the Solar System. He has also worked on topics in relativistic gravitation, pulsars, brown dwarfs, and the physics of the interstellar medium. He received a doctorate in physics in 1975 from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. He held positions at the Max–Planck–Institut fuer Radioastronomie in Bonn, Germany, the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center operated by Cornell University, and Princeton University. At present, he is an Evan Pugh Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Pennsylvania State University and a director of Penn State’s Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds. Professor Wolszczan is best known for his discovery, in 1992, and the subsequent confirmation, of the first planets orbiting a star other than the Sun. He is also a discoverer and co-discoverer of many pulsars and giant planets around evolved stars.