Jim al-Khalili talks to the astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell about missing out a Nobel Prize, sexism in science and a strange smudge in the data from a radio telescope. While others dismissed this smudge as insignificant, Jocelyn revealed a series of strange flashing signals. They might have been evidence of faulty radio telescope or even messages from a little green man; but Jocelyn thought otherwise and her determination to get to the bottom of it all, led to one of the most exciting discoveries in 20th century astronomy, the discovery of pulsars, those dense cores of collapsed stars.
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Stephen Sackur talks to the astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell about being a scientist in a man’s world and tells him why she has learned to live with missing out on a Nobel Prize.
Melvyn Bragg is joined by guests Frank Close, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Ruth Gregory to discuss the Vacuum of Space.
Alice Bell argues that better engagement by scientists, rather than lessons in ‘scientific literacy’, is the solution to the lack of public understanding of science. She is frustrated how often this apparent panacea is rolled out as the solution to the problem. But on some controversial subjects the scientific evidence does not point in a single direction, she says. More than that, the specific bit of science needed to understand the subject at hand varies from issue to issue.