Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell: an unsung hero of Belfast ... and deserving of a statue

I don't normally post sponsored infographics. Every month I get one or two emails from companies who are wanting to boost their SEO and brand awareness through some charts that are vaguely related to their business. However, Jurys Inns (they have a hotel in Belfast!) have created a list of Unsung Belfast Heroes which includes Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astrophysicist and past pupil of Lurgan College. They explain:
A Northern Irish astrophysicist (Belfast born), Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the first radio pulsars while under her thesis supervisor. This discovery resulted in her supervisor Anthony Hewish, and Martin Ryle sharing a Nobel Prize in Physics. The omission of Bell Burnell from the prize sparked outrage and has been a point of controversy ever since as she not only found the initial anomaly, but also reviewed and reported on as much as 96ft of paper data per night, even against Hewish's scepticism.

Despite helping to build the four-acre radio telescope and being omitted from the discovery, Bell Burnell stated that Nobel Prizes would be demeaned if they were awarded to research students unless in very exceptional cases, which she deemed that hers was not. However, many institutions awarded her recognition for the discovery and she continued to rise in her career serving as the president of the Institute of Physics for two years.

Bell Burnell attended Lurgan College where she was one of the first girls permitted to study science in place of subjects such as cross-stitching and cooking.

You can hear a little of her story in her TEDxStormont talk earlier this year.



You can also watch clips of her explaining pulsars, listen to her discussing being a woman in the scientific community, and listen to her Desert Island Discs! On a BBC News Channel HARDtalk programme she explained:
I have discovered that even if you do describe it as an injustice you can do incredibly well out of not getting a Nobel Prize.
What a great success and role-model for Belfast City Council to celebrate with freedom of the city and a statue?

And the infographic ...

Belfast Unsung Heroes Infographic by Belfast Jurys Inn
Unsung Heroes of Belfast, by The Belfast Jurys Inn Hotel

1 comment:

Lanelle Hilling said...

Thank you. Elegant work. Thomas Andrews waits his day, the story of engineering genius drowned by lesser minds.