Attn: Opinion Page
Sometimes we know least about things closest to us. On private property, 300 yards off
Holmdel Road, lies the site of one of the most significant discoveries in history: the origin of the
universe. I bet you’ve driven past it dozens of times. And that site is now threatened.
In 1964, two Bell Labs scientists, Bob Wilson and Arno Penzias, were using a large “horn
antenna” at the top of Crawford Hill in Holmdel to develop satellite-based radio
communication. They found an unexpected “cosmic microwave background” noise coming
from everywhere in the sky.
At the time, there were two competing theories for the origin of the universe: the “Steady State
Theory,” which said the universe has always been pretty much the same, and the “Big Bang
Theory,” which held that all matter and energy in the universe had once been compressed to a
single point. The Big Bang theory predicted the existence of the cosmic microwave background
as a kind of echo. Wilson and Penzias’ discovery proved the Big Bang was the origin of the
universe 14 billion years ago. They were awarded the Nobel Prize, and the Horn Antenna sitewas designated a National Historic Landmark.
You can see Galileo’s first telescopes in Florence, Italy and visit the laboratories where Thomas
Edison invented motion pictures in West Orange. Sadly, the horn antenna property is now
being studied for “redevelopment.” If rumors are true, the Holmdel Township Committee is
considering gutting the zoning and allowing hundreds of condos, inevitably leading to
destruction of the historic site. A better idea is preserving the antenna where it was used and
converting the property to a public park, where children and adults could visit the place where
humankind first learned where we come from.