On This Day

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Profession: Astrophysicist

United Kingdom

Why Famous: Jocelyn Bell Burnell was still a research student at Cambridge University when she was part of the team that was the first to detect a radio pulsar in 1967. It is now considered to be one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the 20th century. The discovery won the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics, but was controversially awarded to just her supervisor Antony Hewish and astronomer Martin Ryle, despite Burnell Bell being the first to spot the pulsar in the data .

Bell Burnell went on to a distinguished career. She served as the President of the Royal Astronomical Society (2002-04) and in 2018 was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Physics worth $3 million which she donated to the Institute of Physics to set up a bursary scheme to allow more women to work in physics.

Born: July 15, 1943
Birthplace: Lurgan, Northern Ireland
Age: 77 years old

Generation: Silent Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Goat/Sheep
Star Sign: Cancer

Historical Events

  • 1967-11-28 1st radio pulsars detected by British postgraduate Jocelyn Bell Burnell and her supervisor Antony Hewish at Cambridge University
  • 1968-02-24 Discovery of 1st pulsar announced (CP 1919) by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish

Famous Physicists