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Special Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics awarded to Jocelyn Burnell Bell for the discovery of pulsars

The Special Breakthrough Award recognizes the detection of radio signals from spirally superdense neutron stars quickly achieved by Bell Burnell in 1967 and an inspiring life of scientific leadership

50 years after his important role in the discovery, Bell Burnell, from the University of Oxford and the University of Dundee, gets a Physics Award of 3 million dollars

Among the previous winners of the Special Prize we find Stephen Hawking, seven CERN scientists whose leadership led to the discovery of the Higgs boson and the entire LIGO cooperation team that detected gravitational waves

SAN FRANCISCO, September 6, 2018 / PRNewswire / – The Selection Committee of the Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics today announced the Special Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics that recognizes British astrophysics Jocelyn Bell Burnell, for the discovery of the pulsars, the first detection achieved in February 1968 and its inspiring scientific leadership in the last five decades.

Bell Burnell receives the award "for his fundamental contributions in the discovery of the pulsars and for a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community." Pulsars are a highly magnetized form of superdense stars that spin rapidly, known as neutron stars. His discovery was one of the biggest surprises in the history of astronomy and transformed the neutron stars of science fiction into a reality in the most dramatic way. Among many later consequences, it led to several extraordinary proofs of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and to a new understanding of the origin of the heavy elements in the universe.

Yuri Milner, one of the founders of the Breakthrough Awards, said, "Professor Bell Burnell truly deserves this recognition, her curiosity, diligent observations and rigorous analysis revealed some of the most interesting and mysterious objects in the Universe."

The Special Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics can be awarded at any time in recognition of an extraordinary scientific achievement. This is the fourth special prize awarded: among the previous winners we find Stephen Hawking, seven CERN scientists whose leadership led to the discovery of the Higgs boson and the entire LIGO cooperation team that detected gravitational waves

Five decades after his dramatic discovery of the pulsar, Bell Burnell will be recognized at the 2019 Breakthrough Awards Ceremony on Sunday, November 4, 2018, which will also honor the winners of the annual physics prize, along with the winners of the Breakthrough Awards in Life Sciences and Mathematics and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

Discovery of pulsars

Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a graduate student in the mid-1960s who worked with Anthony Hewish at the University of Cambridge. While taking data with a new radio telescope he had helped build, he found an unexpected signal: regular pulses of radio waves. With insight and persistence, he distinguished the signal and located its origin in space. He had discovered the pulsars. Hewish shared with Sir Martin Ryle, the Nobel Prize in Physics of 1974 "for his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars".

The pulsars, in whose discovery Bell Burnell played such a fundamental role, they are wonders of nature. They are stars about the size of San Francisco with masses comparable to those of the Sun. They are rich in neutrons (particles that are in the nucleus of atoms) and can spin and spiral so fast that their surfaces move at a significant fraction of the speed of light.

"The discovery of pulsars of Jocelyn Bell Burnell It will always be one of the great surprises in the history of astronomy, "he said. Edward Witten, president of the Selection Committee. "Until then, nobody had a real idea of ​​how the neutron stars could be observed, if they existed at all." Suddenly, it turned out that nature has provided an incredibly accurate way of observing these objects, something that has led to many advances. later ".

The study of pulsars has enabled some of the most rigorous tests of the general theory of relativity and the first empirical evidence of gravitational waves. In one of the most exciting recent astronomical events, LIGO observed in gravitational waves the coalescence of two neutron stars, and in other observatories the coalescence was observed in a wide spectrum of electromagnetic waves. Such coalescence, called hypernovas, is one of the main sources of heavy elements, such as gold, and they form a very important part of our daily life.

As they spin rapidly, pulsars emit radio waves, visible light, X-rays or gamma rays like the beam of a beacon sweeping the sky. It was this type of radio broadcast that Bell Burnell detected The regularity of these pulses makes pulsars extraordinarily precise natural clocks, with a precision of one part in a billion, which means that a pulsar that is active today has slowed down in just one second since the age of the dinosaurs . Because of these properties, pulsars have helped astrophysicists map our galaxy and the visible universe.

A lifetime of leadership

During the last half century, Bell Burnell She has remained deeply committed to astronomy, teaching at multiple research institutes and assuming leadership roles as project manager at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. Always as a champion of science, education and STEM program, he has been president of the Royal Astronomical Society and the first female president of both the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Bell Burnell is currently a Guest Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and Rector of the University of Dundee. He received a CBE in 1999 and a DBE in 2007 for his services in astronomy.

Special Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics

A Special Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics may be granted by the Selection Committee at any time and, in addition to the usual Breakthrough Award granted through the ordinary annual nomination process. Unlike the annual Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics, the Special Prize is not limited to recent discoveries.

The Selection Committee of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics is composed of: Nima Arkani-Hamed, Charles Bennett, Lyn Evans, Michael B. Green, Alan Guth, Joseph Incandela, Takaaki Kajita, Alexei Kitaev, Maxim Kontsevich, Andrei Linde, Arthur McDonald, Juan Maldacena, Lyman Page, Saul Perlmutter, Alexander Polyakov, Adam Riess, John H. Schwarz, Nathan Seiberg, Ashoke Sen, David Spergel, Andrew Strominger, Kip Thorne, Cumrun Vafa, Yifang Wang, Rainer Weiss, Edward Witten.

Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics

The Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics recognizes people who have made important contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists, theorists, mathematicians and experimentalists, who work in the deepest mysteries of the Universe. The prize can be shared among different scientists.

Breakthrough Award

For the seventh year, the Breakthrough Awards will recognize the best scientists in the world. Each prize carries a financial reward of 3 million dollars and is presented in the fields of Life Sciences (up to four per year), Fundamental Physics (one per year) and Mathematics (one per year). In addition, each year, Nobel researchers are awarded up to three New Horizons prizes in Physics and up to three New Horizons in Mathematics. The winners attend a live televised awards ceremony designed to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists. As part of the program of the ceremony, they also participate in a program of conferences and debates.

The Breakthrough Awards are sponsored by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan Y Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner, Y Anne Wojcicki. The selection committees, composed of the previous winners of the Breakthrough Award in each field, choose the winners.

Information about the Breakthrough Awards available at www.breakthroughprize.org.

The resources available for this announcement, including a video and photos of Dr. Burnell, are available for download here.

Special Breakthrough Award 2018 in Fundamental Physics

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

University of Oxford and University of Dundee

For his fundamental contributions in the discovery of pulsars and for a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/740277/Breakthrough_Prize___Jocelyn_Bell_Burnell.jpg

Related Links

https://breakthroughprize.org

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