iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 25 October 2011

Jim Al-Khalili talks to astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell forged her own path through the male-dominated world of science - in the days when it was unusual enough for women to work, let alone make a discovery in astrophysics that was worthy of a Nobel Prize.

As a 24-year old PhD student, Jocelyn spotted an anomaly on a graph buried within 100 feet of printed data from a radio telescope. Her curiosity about such a tiny detail led to one of the most important discoveries in 20th century astronomy - the discovery of pulsars - those dense cores of collapsed stars.
It's a discovery which changed the way we see the universe, making the existence of black holes suddenly seem much more likely and providing further proof to Einstein's theory of gravity.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell was made a Dame in 2008 and a year later became the first ever female President of the Institute of Physics.

Producer: Anna Buckley.

  • The Life Scientific: Jocelyn Bell Burnell - Programme Transcript

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell - Programme Transcript
  • Science Explorer

    Science Explorer

    Explore the big ideas from The Life Scientific with the Science Explorer, featuring hundreds of programmes from the Radio 4 science archive.

    The first-ever female president of the Institute of Physics, Jocelyn Bell Burnell forged her own path through the male-dominated world of science. She was famously snubbed by the Nobel Prize committee for her discovery of pulsars.

    Explore the themes and ideas from in the Science Explorer.

Broadcasts

Featured in...

  • The Life Scientific

    A selection of pioneers in science & Nobel Prize winners from the Life Scientific.

  • Inspired by Ada

    A collection on women in science, maths, and the internet - all inspired by Ada Lovelace.

  • From the Archive

    Listen to an ever growing selection of programmes from the Radio 4 archives.

Jim Al-Khalili - Presenter

Jim Al-Khalili

Find out more about Jim Al-Khalili and listen to his Science Explorer journey.

Plants: From Roots to Riches

Plants: From Roots to Riches

Our relationship with plants: a major new history by Kew's science director Kathy Willis

Inside Science

Image for BBC Inside Science

Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.

Podcast

  1. Image for The Life Scientific

    The Life Scientific

    Each week, Jim al-Khalili invites a leading scientist to tell us about their life and work. He'll…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss