Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE FRS FRSE FRAS FInstP (/bɜːrˈnɛl/; born 15 July 1943) is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student, co-discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967. She was credited with "one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century". The discovery was recognised by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, but despite the fact that she was the first to observe the pulsars, Bell was not one of the recipients of the prize.
The paper announcing the discovery of pulsars had five authors. Bell's thesis supervisor Antony Hewish was listed first, Bell second. Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with the astronomer Martin Ryle. Many prominent astronomers criticised Bell's omission, including Sir Fred Hoyle. In 1977, Bell Burnell played down this controversy, saying, "I believe it would demean Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to research students, except in very exceptional cases, and I do not believe this is one of them." The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in its press release announcing the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, cited Ryle and Hewish for their pioneering work in radio-astrophysics, with particular mention of Ryle's work on aperture-synthesis technique, and Hewish's decisive role in the discovery of pulsars.
Bell served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, as president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and as interim president of the Institute following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011.
In 2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. She donated the whole of the £2.3 million prize money to help female, minority, and refugee students become physics researchers.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Bell Burnell in 2009
Susan Jocelyn Bell
15 July 1943
|Known for||Co-discovering the first four pulsars|
(m. 1968; div. 1993)
|Thesis||The Measurement of radio source diameters using a diffraction method (1968)|
|Doctoral advisor||Antony Hewish|
Jocelyn Bell was born in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, to M. Allison and G. Philip Bell. Her father was an architect who had helped design the Armagh Planetarium, and during visits she was encouraged by the staff to pursue astronomy professionally. Young Jocelyn also discovered her father's books on astronomy.
She grew up in Lurgan and attended the Preparatory Department[a] of Lurgan College from 1948 to 1956, where she, like the other girls, was not permitted to study science until her parents (and others) protested against the school's policy. Previously, the girls' curriculum had included such subjects as cooking and cross-stitching rather than science.
She failed the eleven-plus exam and her parents sent her to The Mount School, a Quaker girls' boarding school in York, England. There she was favourably impressed by her physics teacher, Mr Tillott, and stated:
You do not have to learn lots and lots ... of facts; you just learn a few key things, and ... then you can apply and build and develop from those ... He was a really good teacher and showed me, actually, how easy physics was.
She graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Philosophy (physics), with honours, in 1965 and obtained a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge in 1969. At Cambridge, she attended New Hall, Cambridge, and worked with Hewish and others to construct[b] the Interplanetary Scintillation Array to study quasars, which had recently been discovered.[c]
In July 1967, she detected a bit of "scruff" on her chart-recorder papers that tracked across the sky with the stars. She established that the signal was pulsing with great regularity, at a rate of about one pulse every one and a third seconds. Temporarily dubbed "Little Green Man 1" (LGM-1) the source (now known as PSR B1919+21) was identified after several years as a rapidly rotating neutron star. This was later documented by the BBC Horizon series.
She worked at the University of Southampton between 1968 and 1973, University College London from 1974 to 82 and the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh (1982–91). From 1973 to 1987 she was a tutor, consultant, examiner, and lecturer for the Open University. In 1986, she became the project manager for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. She was Professor of Physics at the Open University from 1991 to 2001. She was also a visiting professor at Princeton University in the United States and Dean of Science at the University of Bath (2001–04), and President of the Royal Astronomical Society between 2002 and 2004.
Bell Burnell is currently Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Mansfield College. She was President of the Institute of Physics between 2008 and 2010. In February 2018 she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Dundee. In 2018, Bell Burnell visited Parkes, NSW, to deliver the keynote John Bolton lecture at the CWAS AstroFest event.
In 2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, worth three million dollars (£2.3 million), for her discovery of radio pulsars. The Special Prize, in contrast to the regular annual prize, is not restricted to recent discoveries. She donated all of the money "to fund women, under-represented ethnic minority and refugee students to become physics researchers", the funds to be administered by the Institute of Physics.
That Bell did not receive recognition in the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics has been a point of controversy ever since. She helped build the Interplanetary Scintillation Array over two years and initially noticed the anomaly, sometimes reviewing as much as 96 feet (29 m) of paper data per night. Bell later claimed that she had to be persistent in reporting the anomaly in the face of scepticism from Hewish, who was initially insistent that it was due to interference and man-made. She spoke of meetings held by Hewish and Ryle to which she was not invited. In 1977, she commented on the issue:
First, demarcation disputes between supervisor and student are always difficult, probably impossible to resolve. Secondly, it is the supervisor who has the final responsibility for the success or failure of the project. We hear of cases where a supervisor blames his student for a failure, but we know that it is largely the fault of the supervisor. It seems only fair to me that he should benefit from the successes, too. Thirdly, I believe it would demean Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to research students, except in very exceptional cases, and I do not believe this is one of them. Finally, I am not myself upset about it – after all, I am in good company, am I not!
Her publications include:
Bell Burnell is house patron of Burnell House at Cambridge House Grammar School in Ballymena. She has campaigned to improve the status and number of women in professional and academic posts in the fields of physics and astronomy.
From her school days, she has been an active Quaker and served as Clerk to the sessions of Britain Yearly Meeting in 1995, 1996 and 1997. She delivered a Swarthmore Lecture under the title Broken for Life, at Yearly Meeting in Aberdeen on 1 August 1989, and was the plenary speaker at the US Friends General Conference Gathering in 2000. She spoke of her personal religious history and beliefs in an interview with Joan Bakewell in 2006.
Bell Burnell served on the Quaker Peace and Social Witness Testimonies Committee, which produced Engaging with the Quaker Testimonies: a Toolkit in February 2007. In 2013 she gave a James Backhouse Lecture which was published in a book entitled A Quaker Astronomer Reflects: Can a Scientist Also Be Religious?, in which Burnell reflects about how cosmological knowledge can be related to what the Bible, Quakerism or Christian faith states.
In 1968, soon after her discovery, Bell married Martin Burnell; the couple divorced in 1993 after separating in 1989. Her husband was a local government officer, and his career took them to various parts of Britain. She worked part-time for many years while raising her son, Gavin Burnell, who is a member of the condensed matter physics group at the University of Leeds.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, researcher on the staff of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory of University College London, is the recipient of the 1978 J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize.
A Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics can be awarded by the Selection Committee at any time, and in addition to the regular Breakthrough Prize awarded through the ordinary annual nomination process. Unlike the annual Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Special Prize is not limited to recent discoveries.
| Chancellor of the University of Dundee
Antony Hewish (born 11 May 1924) is a British radio astronomer who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 (together with fellow radio-astronomer Martin Ryle) for his role in the discovery of pulsars. He was also awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1969.Burnell
Burnell is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Alf Burnell (born 1924), English rugby league footballer of the 1950s
Arthur Coke Burnell (1840–1882), British translator
Barker Burnell (1798–1843), U.S. Representative from Massachusetts
Cassandra Burnell Southwick (circa 1600–1660), English American Quaker
Charles Burnell (1876–1969), British rower
Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1943), Northern Irish astrophysicist
Joe Burnell (born 1980), English professional footballer
Paul Burnell (born 1965), Scottish rugby union footballer
Robert Burnell (1239–1292), English bishopCenter for Theoretical Studies, University of Miami
The University of Miami Center for Theoretical Studies was established in 1965 under the direction of Behram Kurşunoğlu, with guidance from J. Robert Oppenheimer and with the support of the University's President Henry King Stanford. The purpose of the Center was to provide a forum for studies in theoretical physics and related fields, to be carried out by short term visitors, postdoctoral researchers, long term members of the Center, and various faculty of the University.
Among others, the long term resident members of the Center included Paul Dirac (1969–1972) and Lars Onsager (1972–1976), while the affiliated faculty included Physics Professors Arnold Perlmutter and Kursunoglu.
Soon after being established, the Center assumed responsibility for the organization of the "Coral Gables Conferences" --- a series of winter scientific meetings on various topics, especially elementary particle physics. These meetings had already begun in January 1964, and continued through December 2003. The original series has now been superseded by the annual Miami physics conferences on elementary particles, astrophysics, and cosmology.From 1969 onwards the Center awarded the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize to recognize physics research. Jocelyn Bell Burnell was the 1978 recipient for her discovery of pulsars. Several other recipients of the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (specifically, Sheldon Glashow, Yoichiro Nambu, Frederick Reines, Abdus Salam, and Steven Weinberg). The inaugural recipient, Paul Dirac, was already a Nobel laureate.
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The Harrie Massey Medal and Prize is jointly awarded by Institute of Physics (UK) and the Australian Institute of Physics for contributions to physics.
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This is a list of Chancellors of the University of Dublin, founded in 1592.List of women astronomers
The following is a list of astronomers, astrophysicists and other notable women who have made contributions to the field of astronomy.Marie Curie-Sklodowska Medal and Prize
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Maurice Riordan (born 1953) is an Irish poet, translator, and editor.
Born in Lisgoold, County Cork, his poetry collections include: A Word from the Loki (1995), a largely London-based collection which was a Poetry Book Society Choice and shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize; Floods (2000) which took a more millennial tone, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award; The Holy Land (2007) which contains a sequence of Idylls or prose poems and returns to Riordan's Irish roots more directly than his earlier work. It received the Michael Hartnett Award.His anthologies include A Quark for Mister Mark: 101 Poems about Science (2000), a collaboration with Jon Turney, an anthology of ecological poems Wild Reckoning (2004) edited with John Burnside, and Dark Matter (2008) edited with astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell. He has also edited a selection of poems by Hart Crane (2008) in Faber's 'Poet to Poet' series.
He has translated the work of Maltese poet Immanuel Mifsud. His collection for children The Moon Has Written You a Poem is adapted from the Portuguese of José Jorge Letria.In 2004 he was selected as one of the Poetry Society's 'Next Generation' poets. He was Poetry Editor of Poetry London from 2005 to 2009 and Editor of The Poetry Review from 2013 to 2017.He has taught at Goldsmiths College and at Imperial College and is Emeritus Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University. He lives in London.Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
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The founder and first editor (1877–82) was William Christie, then chief assistant at the Royal Observatory and later Astronomer Royal. Notable subsequent editors include:
Arthur Eddington (1913–19)
Harold Spencer Jones (1915–23)
Richard van der Riet Woolley (1933–39)
William McCrea (1935–37)
Margaret Burbidge (1948–51)
Antony Hewish (1957–61)
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Breakthrough Prize laureates