Thursday, August 17, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell


Known as Jocelyn Bell Burnell, is a British astrophysicist who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars with her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish.
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Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Science always doesn't go forwards. It's a bit like doing a Rubik's cube. You sometimes have to make more of a mess with a Rubik's cube before you can get it to go right. You build up this picture of what there is and you believe it to be true and you work with this picture and you refine it but sometimes you have to abandon the picture. Sometimes you discover the picture you thought you had, that everybody thought we had, actually turns out to be wrong.
Burnell quotes
If we assume we've arrived: we stop searching, we stop developing.
Burnell
I have this sense that we need to picture cosmology, the evolution of the universe in a whole new way. I'm probably not one that can achieve this new thinking but somebody will and I feel at the moment we're kind of waiting for it to happen. A bit like a pregnant pause. A bit like what happens when there's a snowfall, first snowfall of the year, when everything goes quiet and kind of waits. I feel we are in that kind of phase.




Burnell Jocelyn Bell quotes
I switched on the high speed recorder and it came blip.... blip.... blip.... blip.... blip.... Clearly the same family, the same sort of stuff and that was great, that was really sweet. It finally scotched the little green men hypothesis cos it's highly unlikely there's two lots of little green men, opposite sides of the universe, both deciding to signal to a rather inconspicuous planet earth, at the same time, using a daft technique and a rather common place frequency. It has to be some new kind of star, not seen before, and that then cleared the way for us publishing, going public!
Burnell Jocelyn Bell
One of the things women bring to a research project, or indeed any project, is they come from a different place, they've got a different background. Science has been named, developed, interpreted by white males for decades and women view the conventional wisdom from a slightly different angle and that sometimes means they can clearly point to flaws in the logic, gaps in the argument, they can give a different perspective of what science is.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell quotes
Scientists should never claim that something is absolutely true. You should never claim perfect, or total, or 100% because you never ever get there.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Looking at the universe as a whole; cosmology, the birth, life and death of the whole universe, we used to have a nice simple model. Then we had to add things like dark energy, and our nice simple picture is getting messier and messier and messier.
Burnell Jocelyn Bell quotes
By the end of my PhD I could swing a sledgehammer.
Burnell
Science is a quest for understanding. A search for truth seems to me to be full of pitfalls. We all have different understandings of what truth is, and we'll each believe, or we are in danger of each believing, that our truth is the one and only absolute truth, which is why I say it's full of pitfalls. I think a search for understanding is much more serviceable to humankind, and is a sufficiently ambitious goal of itself.
Burnell Jocelyn Bell
I find that quakerism and research science fit together very, very well. In quakerism you're expected to develop your own understanding of god from your experience in the world. There isn't a creed, there isn't a dogma. There's an understanding but nothing as formal as a dogma or creed and this idea that you develop your own understanding also means that you keep redeveloping your understanding as you get more experience, and it seems to me that's very like what goes on in "the scientific method." You have a model, of a star, its an understanding, and you develop that model in the light of experiments and observations, and so in both you're expected to evolve your thinking. Nothing is static, nothing is final, everything is held provisionally.
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