Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell addresses the Chichester Quakers for the Festival of Chichester

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is the guest of the Chichester Quakers at this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Chris Grove, clerk to Chichester Quaker Meeting, said: “In 1967, a 24-year-old PhD student, Jocelyn Bell was studying the night sky using a radio telescope. She detected some regular pulses coming from the edge of the universe. For a while she and her colleagues really thought they might have contacted an alien intelligence – designated as LGM (Little Green Men). Then they thought there might be another explanation. It turned out to be an object, previously unknown in the universe, now called a pulsar.

“For this work her supervisors received a Nobel prize.

“After marriage, she became Bell Burnell and was elected President of the Royal Astronomical Society and later as President of the Institute of Physics.

“In 2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. She used the £2.3 million prize money to establish the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund, to help female, minority and refugee students become physics researchers.

“In 2021, Bell Burnell became the second female recipient of the Copley Medal and Northern Ireland’s Ulster Bank unveiled a new £50 bank note, which features Jocelyn Bell, originally from Northern Ireland.

“She was awarded a Damehood in 2007 but in keeping with her Quaker principles rarely uses the title. She was a member of Chichester Quaker Meeting in the 1970s.

“At 5pm on July 10 she will speak in the Festival of Chichester at the Quaker Meeting House on the subject A Quaker Astronomer Reflects. Those who think science and religion are mutually exclusive should find her talk particularly interesting.”