I came back to CVille a couple of weeks ago to some very sad news. Don Backer, radio astronomer and one of the principle investigators of my project, had passed away.
I honestly didn’t and still don’t know quite what to say. Don was one of the most energetic, hard-working people I’ve known. I mean, I just thought he was the Energizer bunny.
This is the guy that got me to climb up a rickety old radio telescope to take some aerial shots of PAPER. In that same trip, I think, he had the idea to run around in the field at 2am, fixing antenna orientations. After a whole day of field work and computer work. Working with him was an honor, even if it often was for me a struggle to keep up!
Feeling at a loss to do him proper tribute with my own words, I ask that you please read a touching post from his former grad student, later post-doc, Aaron Parsons. I also noticed that Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute painted a perfectly familiar portrait of Don, and I encourage you to read that as well.