Jocelyn Bell Burnell: Expanding celestial horizons

Originally published in the ebook A Passion for Science: Stories of Discovery and Invention.

by Jacqui Farnham

In February 1968, a last minute paper was rushed into Volume 217 of the scientific journal Nature. The paper detailed the discovery of a completely new kind of star, a type of celestial object that had previously been utterly unknown to astronomers. It was a revelation that shook the world of astrophysics and preceded a new way of thinking about the Universe. But the momentous discovery described in the paper was not its only surprise. Up in the top left hand corner of the front page were the names of the authors, and one of them was a woman: Jocelyn Bell. Though it was not completely unknown, a woman author on a scientific paper was quite a novelty. Science, and science journals simply were not the normal habitat of women in the 1960s. Yet Bell had made an indelible impression on this world of men almost unintentionally.

Born in 1943, Jocelyn Bell was a 25 year old P...



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Posted in STEM Stories.