Scientist Robbed of 1974 Nobel Prize, Now Wins $3M
Jocelyn Bell Burnell made an important astrophysics discovery as a graduate student in 1967. Bell Burnell was responsible for the radio pulsar, which could one day form the basis of a “galactic positioning system.” The discovery went on to win a Nobel Prize in 1974 but Bell Burnell didn’t receive the prize.
Instead, her supervisor at the University of Cambridge, Antony Hewish, received the award. Hewish had built the necessary radio telescope with Bell Burnell but didn’t discover the radio pulsar. Fast-forward 44 years later, and Bell Burnell is now receiving the Breakthrough Prize for the same discovery, as well as her leadership and contributions to science all of these years.
“Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s discovery of pulsars will always stand as one of the great surprises in the history of astronomy.” – Edward Witten, Breakthrough Prize selection committee, via statement
The Breakthrough Prize, with an award of $3M, is the largest scientific award in the world. Bell Burnell won’t keep the money. Instead, she plans to set up a scholarship to support women and minorities interested in science. “I don’t want or need the money myself, and it seemed to me that this was perhaps the best use I could put to it.” – Jocelyn Bell Burnell, to BBC