Thursday, April 8, 2010

Prof S J Bell Burnell

I watched a very interesting programme last night about Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. In 1967 she discovered pulsars. When I first "met her" I was an undergraduate (she is 12 years older than me) and she was NOT receiving a Nobel Prize. Neither was I, so we had that in common. She, however, should have been crowned Nobel Laureate. Instead, her PhD supervisor, Tony Hewish and the group head, Martin Ryle took all the plaudits. Cheeky buggers! Tony Hewish had the neck, last night, to point out that there are "captains and crew" in these things. Even after all these years, I still think the lass were robbed.
How different my own experience. When I used to come up with "stuff" as a graduate student, my supervisor (Prof Jim Turner FRS) and the other academics in the group (Prof Martyn Poliakoff and the late Prof Jeremy Burdett) used to argue black was white to find the cracks in what I was doing. When they were convinced it was OK we wrote papers and got them published. Jim and I are the senior authors on my first publication. I published my second paper with me as the sole author. Thank God I didn't work for Ryle and Hewish! Thank God I had the enormous honour and joy of working with Turner and Poliakoff.

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