From radio astronomy to wireless technology
Last week the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia got in touch with me about some CSIRO-produced films they had found from the 1950s and ‘60s.
While these films are always amusing for the stilted presentation style and English accents, they got me thinking.
One film from 1950 introduces radio astronomy as a new branch of science that uses radio equipment rather than telescopes to study the stars and sun.
It showed the work of the Radiophysics Laboratory which became a division of CSIRO in 1940. In 1996, the Division of Radiophysics merged with the Division of Applied Physics to become CSIRO, Telecommunications and Industrial Physics, then down the track that was merged with CSIRO Industrial Physics and CSIRO ICT Centre.
What an amazing journey from 1950 when we ‘introduced’ radio astronomy to this week when CSIRO signed licensing agreements with some of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world for the use of our patented WLAN technology– the technology which makes wireless devices work.
The invention came out of CSIRO's pioneering work in radio astronomy. That work involved complex mathematics known as 'fast Fourier transforms' as well as detailed knowledge about radio waves and their behaviour in different environments.
Every time we use a wireless device we should thank the funny sounding scientists on those black and white films.
Oh, for those who prefer little icons and stats, check out this nifty infographic on how we brought wireless LAN technology to the world.