Pioneering astrophysicist visits UCT

07 March 2008 | Story by Chris McEvoy

World-renowned astrophysicist Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell visited UCT to deliver a public lecture on radio pulsars on 6 March.

As a postgraduate student, Burnell discovered - news broke in 1968 - the first radio pulsars with her thesis advisor Antony Hewish. Hewish won a Nobel Prize for the discovery, and Burnell's omission is still thought controversial. She is currently Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Mansfield College in the UK.

AT UCT, Bell spoke of the nature of pulsars, ie signals from rapidly rotating neutron stars. 'Pulsar' is an abbreviation for pulsating radio star or rapidly pulsating radio sources.

"I find pulsars very hard to believe in," quipped Burnell. "But I suppose I must."

Burnell is in Cape Town as part of a two-month trip around the world.

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