Taking the Back off the Watch

A Personal Memoir

  • Thomas Gold
  • Simon Mitton

Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 381)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Thomas Gold
    Pages 1-12
  3. Thomas Gold
    Pages 13-18
  4. Thomas Gold
    Pages 19-46
  5. Thomas Gold
    Pages 103-116
  6. Thomas Gold
    Pages 117-129
  7. Thomas Gold
    Pages 131-143
  8. Thomas Gold
    Pages 145-170
  9. Thomas Gold
    Pages 171-193
  10. Thomas Gold
    Pages 195-214
  11. Thomas Gold
    Pages 215-222
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 223-232

About this book


Thomas Gold (1920-2004) had a curious mind that liked to solve problems. He was one of the most remarkable astrophysicists in the second half of the twentieth century, and he attracted controversy throughout his career. Based on a full-length autobiography left behind by Thomas Gold, this book was edited by the astrophysicist and historian of science, Simon Mitton (University of Cambridge).

The book is a retrospective on Gold’s remarkable life. He fled from Vienna in 1933, eventually settling in England and completing an engineering degree at Trinity College in Cambridge. During the war, he worked on naval radar research alongside Fred Hoyle and Hermann Bondi – which, in an unlikely chain of events, eventually led to his working with them on steady-state cosmology. In 1968, shortly after their discovery, he provided the explanation of pulsars as rotating neutron stars.

In his final position at Cornell, he and his colleagues persuaded the US Defense Department to fund the conversion of the giant radio telescope at Arecibo in Puerto Rico into a superb instrument for radio astronomy. Gold’s interests covered physiology, astronomy, cosmology, geophysics, and engineering.

Written in an intriguing style and with an equally intriguing foreword by Freeman Dyson, this book constitutes an important historical document, made accessible to all those interested in the history of science.



Arecibo radio telescope Autobiography Tommy Gold Explanation of pulsars Origin of petroleum Steady state cosmology

Authors and affiliations

  • Thomas Gold
    • 1
  1. 1.New YorkUSA

Editors and affiliations

  • Simon Mitton
    • 1
  1. 1., St. Edmund's CollegeFellow and TreasurerCambridgeUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information