Jocelyn Bell Burnell
|Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
DBE, FRS, PRSE FRAS
Bell Burnell in 2009
|Born||Susan Jocelyn Bell
15 July 1943 
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Thesis||The Measurement of radio source diameters using a diffraction method. (1968)|
|Doctoral advisor||Antony Hewish|
|Known for||Discovering the first four pulsars|
|Influences||Fred Hoyle Frontiers of Astronomy (1955)
Mr Tillott (her school physics teacher)
|Notable awards||Herschel Medal (1989)
Dame (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell, DBE, FRS, PRSE FRAS (born 15 July 1943) is a Northern Irish astrophysicist. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars while studying and advised by her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Martin Ryle, while Bell Burnell was excluded, despite having been the first to observe and precisely analyse the pulsars. Bell Burnell was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and was interim president following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011. She was succeeded in October 2011 by Sir Peter Knight. Bell Burnell was elected as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in October 2014, succeeding Sir John Arbuthnott. In March 2013 she was elected Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin.
The paper announcing the discovery of pulsars had five authors. Hewish's name was listed first, Bell's second. Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with Martin Ryle, without the inclusion of Bell as a co-recipient. Many prominent astronomers expressed outrage at this omission, including Sir Fred Hoyle. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in their 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. Dr. Iosif Shklovsky, recipient of the 1972 Bruce Medal, had sought out Bell at the 1970 International Astronomical Union's General Assembly, to tell her: "Miss Bell, you have made the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century."
Background and family life
Susan Jocelyn Bell was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her father was an architect who had helped design the Armagh Planetarium, and young Jocelyn soon discovered his books on astronomy. She grew up in Lurgan and attended Lurgan College, 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.
You don't 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.
Bell Burnell graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Philosophy (physics) in 1965 and obtained a Ph.D. degree from the University of Cambridge in 1969. At Cambridge, she attended New Hall (now Murray Edwards College), and worked with Hewish and others to construct a radio telescope for using interplanetary scintillation to study quasars, which had recently been discovered (interplanetary scintillation allows compact sources to be distinguished from extended ones). In July 1967, she detected a bit of "scruff" on her chart-recorder papers that tracked across the sky with the stars. Ms. Bell found that the signal was pulsing with great regularity, at a rate of about one pulse per second. 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 (extract http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p009s61s)
Bell Burnell worked at the University of Southampton (1968–73), University College London (1974–82) and the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh (1982–91). In addition, from 1973 to 1987, she was a tutor, consultant, examiner, and lecturer for the Open University. She was Professor of Physics in the Open University from 1991 to 2001. She was also a visiting professor in Princeton University in the United States and Dean of Science in the University of Bath (2001–04), and President of the Royal Astronomical Society between 2002 and 2004. She is currently Visiting Professor of Astrophysics in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College. She was President of the Institute of Physics between 2008 and 2010.
Bell 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.
Quaker activities and beliefs
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 U.S. Friends General Conference Gathering in 2000.
She revealed her personal religious history and beliefs in an interview with Joan Bakewell in 2006. She 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.
The fact 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 four-acre radio telescope over two years and initially noticed the anomaly, sometimes reviewing as much as 96 feet 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. Fred Hoyle harshly criticized the Nobel committee, going so far as to accuse Hewish of stealing Bell's data. (Ironically, as some would later conjecture, it was this public outburst that would later cause Hoyle to be excluded from the 1983 Prize).
However, Bell has also been hesitant to express indignation at the omission. In an after-dinner speech made in 1977, she had the following to say on the matter:
There are several comments that I would like to make on this: 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! 
- The Albert A. Michelson Medal of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia (1973, jointly with Dr. Hewish).
- J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize from the Center for Theoretical Studies, University of Miami (1978).
- Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize of the American Astronomical Society (1986).
- Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1989).
- Jansky Lectureship before the National Radio Astronomy Observatory(1995).
- Magellanic Premium of the American Philosophical Society (2000).
- Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) (March 2003).
- The Grote Reber Medal at the General Assembly of the International Radio Science Union in Istanbul (19 August 2011)
She has also been awarded numerous honorary degrees, including:
- Doctor of Science: Heriot-Watt University (1993), University of Warwick (1995), University of Newcastle (1995), University of Cambridge (1996), University of Glasgow (1997), University of Sussex (1997), University of St Andrews (1999), University of London (1999), Haverford College (2000), University of Leeds (2000), Williams College (2000), University of Portsmouth (2002), Queen's University, Belfast (2002), University of Edinburgh (2003), University of Keele (2005), Harvard University (2007), Durham University (2007), University of Michigan (2008), University of Southampton (2008), Trinity College, Dublin (2008).
- Doctor of the University: University of York (1994).
- Burnell, S. Jocelyn (1989). Broken for Life. London: Quaker Home Service. pp. 58pp. ISBN 0-85245-222-5. (Swarthmore Lecture)
- Riordan, Maurice; Burnell, S. Jocelyn (October 27, 2008). Dark Matter: Poems of Space. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. ISBN 978-1903080108.
- "BELL BURNELL, Dame (Susan) Jocelyn" (Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press).(subscription required)
- Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell Cardiff University. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- Universe – Jocelyn Bell Burnell BBC. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- Bell, Susan Jocelyn (1968). The Measurement of radio source diameters using a diffraction method (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
- Hewish, A.; Bell, S. J.; Pilkington, J. D. H.; Scott, P. F.; Collins, R. A. (1968). "Observation of a Rapidly Pulsating Radio Source". Nature 217 (5130): 709. Bibcode:1968Natur.217..709H. doi:10.1038/217709a0.
- Pilkington, J. D. H.; Hewish, A.; Bell, S. J.; Cole, T. W. (1968). "Observations of some further Pulsed Radio Sources". Nature 218 (5137): 126. doi:10.1038/218126a0.
- "Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell". The Life Scientific. 25 October 2010. BBC Radio 4. http://bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016812j. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- Hargittai, István (2003). The road to Stockholm : Nobel Prizes, science, and scientists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 240. ISBN 0198607857.
- List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
- Erica Westly (6 October 2008). "No Nobel for You: Top 10 Nobel Snubs". Scientific American.
- Judson, Horace (20 October 2003). "No Nobel Prize for Whining". New York Times. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
- 1974 Nobel Physics Prize committee press release
- Longair, Malcolm (2006). The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology. Cambridge University Press. p. 196. ISBN 0-521-47436-1.
- Johnston, Colin (March 2007). "Pulsar Pioneer visits us" (PDF). Astronotes (Armagh Planetarium). pp. 2–3. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- At Mount School 1956–61. She is the 2007 President of the Old Scholars' Association.
- Beautiful Minds Jocelyn Bell Burnell
- "...upon entering the faculty, each student was issued a set of tools: a pair of pliers, a pair of long-nose pliers, a wire cutter, and a screwdriver...", said during a public lecture in Montreal during the 40 Years of Pulsars conference, 14 August 2007
- "The Restless Universe: Some Highlights of Physics". OpenLearn. The Open University. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "Jocelyn Bell Burnell". Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics (CWP). Retrieved 2007-07-07.
- University of Bath Press Release, announcing Bell Burnell's retirement
- "Queen's Birthday Honours 2007". University of Oxford. 18 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-10.
- IoP website>Governance>Council (accessed 1 May 2008).
- Bell Burnell, S. J. (2004). "So Few Pulsars, So Few Females". Science 304 (5670): 489–426. doi:10.1126/science.304.5670.489. PMID 15105461. See also Belfast Telegraph interview
- "Face to Face: science star who went under the radar of Nobel Prize judges"(interview) by Vicky Allan in The Herald Scotland 5-01-2015
- Details of the print version of the lecture are given in the Bibliography
- Transcript of interview by Joan Bakewell for the BBC Radio 3 series "Belief" (2 January 2006)
- Engaging with the Quaker Testimonies: a Toolkit, 2007 ISBN 0-901689-59-9
- Burnell, Jocelyn Bell. 2013. [books.google.com.mx/books?id=4wg2uCA-x64C&source=gbs_navlinks_s A Quaker Astronomer Reflects: Can a Scientist Also Be Religious?]. Interactive Publications, p. 11
- BBC Radio 4 interview 25 October 2011
- Fred Hoyle: the scientist whose rudeness cost him a Nobel prize
- Quote by Bell Burnell regarding not sharing in the Nobel Prize
- "Franklin Laureate Database - Albert A. Michelson Medal Laureates". Franklin Institute. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- Franklin Institute citation
- Walter, Claire (1982). Winners, the blue ribbon encyclopedia of awards. Facts on File Inc. p. 438. ISBN 9780871963864.
- "J. Bell-Burnell, received the 1978 J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize". Physics Today (American Institute of Physics): 68. April 1978. doi:10.1063/1.2995004. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- American Astronomical Society Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize
- "Jansky Home Page". Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- Official list of Premium winners
- Royal Society article about Bell Burnell, with portrait
- "Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, DBE". Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- "Honorary Graduates and Chancellor's Medallists". University of Warwick. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- "Williams College to honor eight renowned scientists and dedicate new science center, Sept. 23". Williams College Office of Public Affairs. 2000-08-02. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- "Honorary degree recipients and citations, 2007". Harvard Gazette. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- "Honorary degree ceremony". Durham University. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- The Guardian Commentary on the Birthday Honours, 16 June 2007
- BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
- "Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell to be Royal Society's first female president" BBC News (web) 5 February 2014
- Press release on dark matter from the Gulbenkian Foundation
Find more about
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
at Wikipedia's sister projects
|Definitions from Wiktionary|
|Media from Commons|
|News stories from Wikinews|
|Quotations from Wikiquote|
|Source texts from Wikisource|
|Textbooks from Wikibooks|
|Learning resources from Wikiversity|
- Freeview video 'Tick, Tick, Pulsating Star: How I Wonder What You Are?' A Royal Institution Discourse by the Vega Science Trust (accessed 24 December 2007).
- Four video clips in which Bell Burnell gives a brief answer to the following questions: Having made a monumental discovery in science, how does that affect one's later career? What was the process for discovering pulsars? Were you looking for them based on a theory, or were you trying to clarify a phenomenon? Where are your research interests focussed at the moment?What future discoveries do you expect in Astronomy? (BBC/Open University Masters of Science website) (accessed 24 December 2007).
- Counterbalance Library: Bell Burnell talk "Science and the Spiritual Quest" (24 Minutes) (Accessed 7 April 2010).
- University of Manchester - Jodcast Interview with Jocelyn Bell-Burnell
- Life Scientific 3 Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell (BBC IPlayer)
- Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics: Burnell article. Procided by University of California at Los Angeles.
- Ferdinand V. Coroniti and Gary A. Williams (2006), "Jocelyn Bell Burnell" in Out of the Shadows: Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics, Nina Byers and Gary Williams, ed., Cambridge University Press.
- Catalogue entry of Royal Society citation (accessed 24 December 2007).
- Gale - Free Resources: Article on Bell Burnell from Encyclopedia of World Biography 1998. (Accessed 24 December 2007).
- UK Resource Centre for Women in Science Engineering Technology biographical webpage. (Accessed 24 December 2007).
- Biographical article, indicating Bell Burnell's beliefs and personal life, from California State Polytechnic University NOVA project. (Accessed 24 December 2007).
- Nicholas Wade and William Broad. Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983, pp. 143–151.
- Women in Science
- Irishwoman who discovered the 'lighthouses of the universe' Irish Times profile.
- "Northern Star" (PDF). Programme information (BBC Northern Ireland). 13 June 2007. pp. 7–8. Retrieved 2007-07-05. (TV Documentary on Jocelyn Bell Burnell's life) (Not accessible online 24 December 2007).
- An after-dinner speech by Jocelyn Bell Burnell on her life and the discovery of pulsars (accessed 24 December 2007).
- Transcript of interview by Joan Bakewell for the BBC Radio 3 series "Belief" (2 January 2006) (accessed 24 December 2007).
- Transcript of American Institute of Physics interview