April 12, 2015
Jocelyn Bell Burnell To this day, even though there is equality for all, its not easy being a woman in a professional field. However, it isn’t because a woman is incapable but its because she’s not a man. These past decades a woman’s place has been in the home and thankfully things have changed; the world still carries over some of these mediocre feelings towards women. Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an exception to this as all women should be. She’s an intellectual and gifted woman in one of the most ‘man’ dominated fields, science. Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born on July 15, 1943 in Belfast Ireland. Her last name, Bell, whose married named became Burnell is a female British astronomer and astrophysicist who discovered the first pulsars. Pulsars are the stars that release regular bursts of radio waves and the discovery ranks as an important milestone in the history of astrophysics. Jocelyn started her career academically by failing the Northern Ireland equivalent of 11+. She gained a creditable number of 0 and A levels and went on to earn a Physics degree at Glasgow University, in Scotland in 1965, according to csupomona.edu. She began her road to discovery while attending Cambridge University working on her Ph.D. as a research student under the supervision of her staff advisor Anthony Hewish. Jocelyn began working on a radio astronomy project designed to study the interplanetary scintillation of compact radio waves.
Radio astronomy research had been occurring since the 1950s but until Cambridge astronomers began development of a particularly suitable type of radio telescope had been severely limited. Her work largely involved the tedious work of looking at charts by hand and while uneventful it was important and critical to the project. Her persistence would prove to be unexpected for her ultimate discovery.
In November 1967 Jocelyn began to take notice of unusual signs, which she called as ‘scruff’ that at first was though to be some form of radio wave interference, a common occurrence with highly sensitive radio telescopes. While over a period of numerous days, these signals became clearly distinguishable and regular in their manifestation and it was obvious to her that they were originating from outside the solar system.
Jocelyn was able to record these pulses and study them in great detail. Then, over the next eight weeks the group at Cambridge had a hard time convincing themselves that the signals had been emitted by naturally occurring astronomical objects. At the time of discovery, Jocelyn termed this first stellar discovery LGM that stood for Little Green Men. In time these radio signals proved to be emissions from a unique category of neutron star. Jocelyn Bell had made the most remarkable astronomical discovery in recent history; she had detected the first known pulsar, which is a rapidly spinning neutron star that sends out regular burst of radio waves and other electromagnetic radiation. After completing her thesis and Ph.D degree at Cambridge, Jocelyn Bell’s career led her into x-ray and gamma-ray