Reflections on the discovery of pulsars

Prof. Jocelyn Bell Burnell


In this talk I will summarise the events that led to the discovery of the first four pulsars, recount several instances where pulsars were almost discovered and reflect on what lessons we might draw from these stories.

About the talk

Reflections on the discovery of pulsars
Prof. Jocelyn Bell Burnell
University of Oxford, UK
Thursday December 2, 2010 - 0:00 GMT  (Aula)
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About the speaker

View Prof. Jocelyn Bell's interview at the IAC.

Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell started her academic career by failing the Northern Ireland equivalent of the 11+, but went on to read a Physics degree at Glasgow University, Scotland. This was followed by a PhD in Cambridge (UK) in Radio Astronomy. During her time there she was involved in the discovery of pulsars, opening up a new branch of astrophysics - work which was recognized by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

For ten years she was Professor of Physics at the Open University, and had a year as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Princeton University, USA. In 2004 she retired as the Dean of Science at the University of Bath, and now holds a Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford and a Professorial Fellowship at Mansfield College, Oxford.

Public appreciation and understanding of science have always been important to her, and she is much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster. In 2010 the Royal Society awarded her the Faraday Medal for science communication. Her appointment to the Open University doubled the number of female professors of physics in the UK. She hopes that her presence as a senior woman in science will encourage more women to consider a career in science.