September 06, 2018
In 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a graduate student at Cambridge, working on a dissertation about strange objects in distant galaxies known as quasars.
She and her supervisor, Antony Hewish, had built a radio telescope to observe them. Data from the telescope scrolled out from a machine — a line in red ink, scrawling across 96 feet of chart paper each day.
In 1974, They Gave The Nobel To Her Supervisor. Now Shes Won A $3 Million Prize
As she pored over the data, she noticed something strange: "an unclassifiable squiggle," she recalls. It indicated mysterious radio waves, pulsing repeatedly.
She says she noticed the unusual signal only because she suffered from impostor syndrome: the idea that you're not good enough and at any moment, you may be discovered as a fraud. For Bell Burnell, it manifested as a fear she would be tossed out of Cambridge, she told The Guardian.
So she took more data from the telescope and kept scouring — but the blip vanished. A month later, the signal returned.
Bell Burnell brought the results to Hewish.
"He said, 'That settles it, it's manmade, it's artificial radio interference,'" she recounted to the newspaper. But she knew it couldn't be interference: The radio waves were coming from something moving at the same speed as the stars — meaning the source of the pulses had to be in space.
The dense objects responsible for the squiggles are now known as pulsars – rapidly spinning neutron stars that emit radiation. Their observation is considered one of the one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the 20th century.
"The excitement was because this was a totally unexpected, totally new kind of object, behaving in a way that astronomers had never expected, never dreamt of," she said in a 2010 BBC documentary.
The discovery of pulsars was so important that it won a 1974 Nobel Prize – for Hewish.
Bell Burnell has said it doesn't bother her much that she wasn't included. "[I]n those days students weren't recognized by the committee," she said in 2009.
Fifty years after Bell Burnell noticed that blip in the red ink, her observation has earned her a very big award: a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, which comes with a check for $3 million.
The Breakthrough Prizes, funded by Silicon Valley figures including Sergey Brin, Yuri Milner, and Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, are the largest monetary science prizes in the world.
"Jocelyn Bell Burnell's discovery of pulsars will always stand as one of the great surprises in the history of astronomy," Edward Witten, the chair of the committee, said in a statement. "Until that moment, no one had any real idea how neutron stars could be observed, if indeed they existed. Suddenly it turned out that nature has provided an incredibly precise way to observe these objects, something that has led to many later advances."
Previous winners of the prize include Stephen Hawking, scientists at CERN involved in the discovery of the Higgs boson, and physicists in the LIGO collaboration who detected gravitational waves.
Bell Burnell is donating her prize winnings to the U.K.'s Institute of Physics, where they will fund graduate scholarships for people from under-represented groups to study physics.
"I don't want or need the money myself and it seemed to me that this was perhaps the best use I could put to it," she told the BBC, adding that she wants to use the money to counter the "unconscious bias" that she says happens in physics research jobs.
The astrophysicist noted there has been an upside to the Nobel snub all those years ago.
"I feel I've done very well out of not getting a Nobel prize," she told the Guardian. "If you get a Nobel prize you have this fantastic week and then nobody gives you anything else. If you don't get a Nobel prize you get everything that moves. Almost every year there's been some sort of party because I've got another award. That's much more fun."


Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Julia Fox defends viral ‘Uncut Gems’ interview moment: ‘I was stoned’ | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
4m-p0_-ePd8
Alexia Echevarria pushed ‘RHOM’ producers to show more of son Frankie’s recovery | Page Six
February 17, 2022
E-wTaN9NfkI
Pete Davidson rejoins Instagram amid Kanye West drama | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
SsC3dmsI6t4
Aaron Rodgers And Shailene Woodley Reportedly Break Up | TMZ LIVE
February 17, 2022
FoErdRE8Qe4
Chet Hanks Done Talking About Famous Parents, Becoming Personal Trainer | TMZ
February 16, 2022
5_UrULOkQ6o
Woman Stabbed at Foot Locker During Nike Shoe Release
February 16, 2022
TfuXMs1JdVg
Steph's Freaky Side, "Summer House" & "Love During Lockup"
February 17, 2022
9W_raO0zlA8
Tay or Nay, Offset's Sushi Anxiety & Nick on Monogamy
February 17, 2022
PauYHpJRA6o
Kim Kardashian & North West TWINNING in Matching Pajamas | E! News
February 17, 2022
b-_Oib6R108
Adam McKay - Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony
February 17, 2022
tYtzsHoOZzo
Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and the Cast of 'Uncharted' Talk Most Challenging Stunts
February 15, 2022
d3ksX-SKi8c
Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell on ‘The Adam Project’, ‘Deadpool’, and Possible ‘Star Wars’ Role
February 16, 2022
5TxJsbJr9Dk
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
04
May
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Playoffs
Seattle Sounders - Pumas
04
May
USA: Major League Soccer
FC Cincinnati - Toronto FC
03
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Bournemouth - Nottingham Forest
02
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Brentford
02
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Fulham - Luton
02
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Real Betis
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Eintracht Frankfurt
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach - RB Leipzig
02
May
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Salernitana
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Leicester City
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Mallorca
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Bologna
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Arsenal
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Chelsea
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Inter Milan
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Fiorentina
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Venezia
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Rayo Vallecano - Real Sociedad
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Mainz - Bayern Munich
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bochum
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Liverpool
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Atletico Madrid
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Manchester City
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Espanyol
30
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Sassuolo
28
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Chelsea
27
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Liverpool - Villarreal
27
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Inter Milan
26
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Manchester City - Real Madrid
25
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Sassuolo - Juventus
24
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - AC Milan
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Everton
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - West Ham United
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Empoli - Napoli
23
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brentford - Tottenham Hotspur
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.