Christiansen had seen that the cover was inspired by a visualization of the first pulsar—a star that emits electromagnetic waves—but the original source of that particular visualization was heretofore unknown. She managed to sift through multiple versions of the famous image printed in the 1970s that did not credit the original source, until she found one that had enough information to go off. It mentioned a “computer-generated” graph from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (the observatory, you may remember, was a filming location for GoldenEye and Contact)She was able to link that to a group of doctoral students at Cornell studying pulsars, specifically the thesis of Harold Craft, entitled, “Radio observations of the pulse profiles and dispersion measures of twelve pulsars.” Craft’s computer-generated images of the pulsars also happen to be some of the earliest examples of digital data visualization, something that Quartz readers no doubt appreciate.

Humble beginnings for this chart.
Humble beginnings for this chart.
Image: Jen Christiansen/Harold D. Craft

And there, 36 years after drummer Stephen Morris chose the image for Joy Division’s debut album cover, its creator was revealed, a universe away from the streets of Thatcherite Manchester.

Remind yourself of the record behind the cover below.

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