RBA Acoustics

Celebrating Manchester: The Origin of Joy Division’s Famous Album Cover

Manchester has been a home away from home for many of our consultants studying at the highly respected acoustics department at the University of Salford; located just outside Manchester city centre.

As part of our new Manchester branch’s opening celebrations we thought we’d take a closer look at Salford-bred band Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover and it’s scientific origins.

As Joy Division fans, astronomers and physicists will tell you, the cover is an iconic salute to where science meets music; the radio pulses of a dying star. CP1919 was the first pulsar ever discovered and album artwork designer Peter Saville has said the image was copied directly from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy that members of the band shared with him.

Until recently this is where the story ended. However, last month journalist Jen Christiansen from Scientific American published his story that traces the image to it’s very beginning – a 1970 PhD thesis “Radio Observations of the Pulse Profiles and Dispersion Measures of Twelve Pulsars” by Harold Craft.

Christiansen interviews Craft on his paper, the original plot and the album cover. The interview can be found on Scientific American’s Blog.

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