A Day with Jocelyn Burnell

o-jocelyn-bell-burnell-570.jpgThis year, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Dame Jocelyn Burnell, astrophysicist and discoverer of the Pulsar!

My Sixth form had arranged for Burnell to talk at Northcott Theatre about her career as a female astrophysicist. It was fascinating but I was surprised to learn how many barriers girls faced starting from secondary school. I had no idea girls had a higher pass boundary for grammar school entrance exams!

Professor Burnell talking about how she found the first pulsar.

Burnell also explained how she discovered pulsars, starting with the construction of a huge 4 acre radio telescope! All the data taken from the telescope was printed onto a moving chart, the good old “pen on paper” method. Burnell saw that there were very regular bumps on the chart, and after further investigation (and documenting it as “Little Green Men”) they were finally found to be rapidly rotating pulsars!

During the talk on dark matter.

After the talk, a good friend and I had lunch with Burnell: a delicious slice of spanakopita and peach tart!

Proceeding that was a talk that I gave to Jocelyn. I can’t believe I was able to do that! I talked about the theory of dark matter and how it came to be, with added maths of course!

To my surprise, a lot of people came to the talk, and Jocelyn really enjoyed it!

I’m so grateful to Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell for taking a whole day to come to the South West. She was so friendly and incredibly compassionate, I will never forget this day!

I hope this can inspire you to get out there and grab life by the reigns! I wouldn’t have met her if I hadn’t said anything. I’m so glad I did!

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Burnell and I after the talk. I was geeking out!


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