Public lecture by Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell


3 July 2019 11:30
dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
from left: Professor of Astrophysics Isobel Hook, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Professor Dame Sue Black

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has delivered a public lecture as part of the Royal Astronomical Society’s annual National Astronomy Meeting, hosted this year by Lancaster University.

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics - work recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family.

She is now a Visiting Professor in Oxford, the Chancellor of the University of Dundee and was (the first female) President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

She has received many honours, including a Breakthrough Prize in 2018.

Professor Bell Burnell is also an honorary graduate of Lancaster University.

The sold out public lecture held at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster looked at the life and work of Arthur Stanley Eddington who introduced the English-speaking world to Einstein's theories and in 1919 travelled to Príncipe to undertake important astronomical measurements to verify one of Einstein's predictions.

In this talk, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell discussed how an expedition to observe a total eclipse of the Sun from a small island off the west coast of Africa came to be regarded as a highlight of 20th-century science.

Her lecture was followed by a live stream of another total eclipse, this time visible from parts of South America, which was broadcast live to the audience.