Four Seasons Lecture Series - Summer: The Legend of Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Aug 04, 2019

Four Seasons Lecture Series - Summer: The Legend of Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

 

Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell is one of the world's most legendary female scientists. In her early twenties, she discovered the first pulsars, which is considered one of the most important astronomical discoveries of the 20th century. This month, Four Seasons Lecture Series – Summer, organized by GASE and the National Museum of Natural Science, invited Dr. Bell Burnell to give a speech on the topic, “A Graduate Student’s Tale, the Discovery of Pulsars.”

 

Dr. Bell Burnell recalled when she was a teenager, girls were expected to learn cooking and sewing instead of science. However, she was interested in science and was one of the few girls in the class. When she began her graduate studies in radio astronomy at the University of Cambridge, she worried that she was not smart enough and would be sent back to her hometown. However, she made up her mind and study her hardest until she was forced to leave.

 

At that time, graduate students were given a set of tools to build radio telescope for collecting radio waves from space. There was only one computer at Cambridge and graduate students had few accesses to use it. She had to print roughly 100 feet of paper charts per day and analyzed data by herself. Studying the radio wave drawings, she unexpectedly discovered the existence of pulsars from the tiny, abnormal signals received.

 

Although Dr. Bell Burnell’s instructor did not believe this discovery at first, but that did not stop her from pursuing further. She believed that the signal was not from little green men (aliens), nor a noise or error. She presented evidence to convince him.

 

Also at the event, Dr. Chu You-hua, the Director of Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA), Academia Sinica, shared with the audience that she studied astronomy in graduate school unintentionally. After she travelled from California to Chile and saw the bright stars in the sky, she was deeply moved. She never knew that there were so many stars in the sky, and the pleasure of celestial observation inspired her path of astronomical research.

 

Dr. Sun Wei-Hsin, Director-General of National Museum of Natural Science also said that astronomers enjoy the celestial observation not because of the moment of discovery. The enthusiasm of astronomers is as similar as the Pokemon (Pocket Monster) player those who are eager to collect virtual monsters.

 

Under the interpretation of Dr. Sun, the audience was more aware of the learning experience and the groundbreaking discovery by Dr. Bell Burnell. Dr. Hsiao-Wei Yuan, Director of GASE, said that by inviting international distinguished experts to come to Taiwan, the Four Seasons Lecture Series give the audience opportunities to meet world renounced scholars and expert face to face.

 

Although Dr. Bell Burnell’s instructor did not believe this discovery at first, but that did not stop her from pursuing further. She believed that the signal was not from little green men (aliens), nor a noise or error. She presented evidence to convince him.

 

Also at the event, Dr. Chu You-hua, the Director of Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA), Academia Sinica, shared with the audience that she studied astronomy in graduate school unintetionally. After she travelled from California to Chile and saw the bright stars in the sky, she was deeply moved. She never knew that there were so many stars in the sky, and the pleasure of celestial observation inspired her path of astronomical research.

 

Dr. Sun Wei-Hsin, Director-General of National Museum of Natural Science also said that astronomers enjoy the celestial observation not because of the moment of discovery. The enthusiasm of astronomers is as similar as the Pokemon (Pocket Monster) player those who are eager to collect virtual monsters.

Under the interpretation of Dr. Sun, the audience was more aware of the learning experience and the groundbreaking discovery by Dr. Bell Burnell. Dr. Hsiao-Wei Yuan, Director of GASE, said that by inviting international distinguished experts to come to Taiwan, the Four Seasons Lecture Series give the audience opportunities to meet world renounced scholars and expert face to face.