Jocelyn Bell Burnell
|Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell|
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
|Born||Susan Jocelyn Bell
15 July 1943 
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
|Institutions||University of Cambridge
University of Glasgow
University of Oxford
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow (BSc)
New Hall, Cambridge (PhD)
|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||The Herschel Medal (1989), Fellow of the Royal Society (March 2003), Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2007)|
Dame (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell, DBE, FRS, FRAS (born 15 July 1943) is a Northern Irish astrophysicist. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars while under her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Martin Ryle. Bell Burnell was left out, because at that time, only the "senior men" would receive credit . 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.
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, where her father was an architect who helped design the Armagh Planetarium. She was encouraged to read and drawn to books on astronomy. She lived in Lurgan as a child and attended Lurgan College where she was one of the first girls there who was permitted to study science. Previously, the girls' curriculum had included such subjects as cross-stitching and cooking.
At age eleven, she failed the 11+ exam and her parents sent her to the Mount School, York, a Quaker girls' boarding school. There she was impressed by a physics teacher, Mr. Tillott, who taught her:
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.
Academic career 
She graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Philosophy (physics) in 1965, and obtained her Ph.D. degree from New Hall (since renamed Murray Edwards College) of the University of Cambridge in 1969. At Cambridge, she 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.
After finishing her Ph.D., 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, Bell Burnell was also a tutor, consultant, examiner, and lecturer for the Open University.
In 1991, she was appointed as a Professor of Physics at the Open University, a position that she held for ten years. She was also a visiting professor at Princeton University in the United States. Before retiring, she was Dean of Science at the University of Bath (2001-04), and she was the President of the Royal Astronomical Society between 2002 and 2004. She is currently a Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College. She served two years as the President of the Institute of Physics, her term ended in October 2010.
Non-academic life 
Bell is the 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.
Nobel Prize 
She did not share in the Nobel Prize, even though it was she, having helped build the four-acre radio telescope over two years, who initially recorded and then noticed the anomaly, reviewing 96 feet of paper data per night, and, as she confirmed in the Beautiful Minds programme, had to be persistent in recording and reporting it in the face of scorn from Hewish, who was initially insistent the anomaly was due to interference and man-made. She referred in the programme to meetings held by Hewish and Ryle which she should have been invited to, but was not. After Ryle and Hewish had concocted a "little green man" intelligent life theory to explain the initial single pulse, further persistent recording and study of the data on Bell Burnell's own initiative revealed the presence of other similar pulses, finally leading to the explanation of them as pulsars.
- 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 (1987).
- Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1989).
- Jansky Lectureship before the National Radio Astronomy Observatory(1995).
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Astronomy (1999)
- Magellanic Premium of the American Philosophical Society (2000).
- Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) (March 2003).
- Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to Astronomy (2007)
- 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), "debretts"/> 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).
Beautiful Minds Documentary 
In the Beautiful Minds documentary she talks about how in science, "nothing is static, nothing is final, everything is held provisionally" and that "sometimes you have to abandon the picture". She demonstrates this with planetary orbits. Kepler recognised that orbits were elliptical, not circles on circles on circles and he made things simple again. She proposes that "our nice simple picture is getting messier and messier and messier" and the documentary ends with her telling us that we are all waiting for a new picture, "we need to picture cosmology, the evolution of the universe in a whole new way", she says. The documentary also looks at her schooling, the sexism and alienation she faced in a male-dominated field as an undergraduate, and also how she built and operated the radio telescope which she used to discover the pulsars. By the end of her PhD she could swing a sledgehammer. During the documentary she also talks about how being a Quaker is an important part of her life and how Quaker practice is similar to the scientific method. "I find that Quakerism and research science fit together very, very well. In Quakerism you're expected to develop your own understanding of God from your experience in the world. There isn't a creed, there isn't a dogma. There's an understanding but nothing as formal as a dogma or creed and this idea that you develop your own understanding also means that you keep redeveloping your understanding as you get more experience, and it seems to me that's very like what goes on in 'the scientific method'. You have a model, of a star, it's an understanding, and you develop that model in the light of experiments and observations, and so in both you're expected to evolve your thinking. Nothing is static, nothing is final, everything is held provisionally."
Selected works 
- 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. http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.449485.
- 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.
- Jane J. Lee (19 March 2013). "6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism". National Geographic.
- 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
- "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
- 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
- BBC Radio 4 interview 25Oct2011
- 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!
- Quote by Bell Burnell regarding not sharing in the Nobel Prize
- "Franklin Laureate Database - Albert A. Michelson Medal Laureates". Franklin Institute. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- Franklin Institute citation
- 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
- wikiquotes, Beautiful Minds Documentary
- Press release on dark matter from the Gulbenkian Foundation
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- 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).