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Images: 1-3, Julien Gremaud / 4, Courtesy of Breakwater Studios.

Images: 1-3, Julien Gremaud / 4, Courtesy of Breakwater Studios.

The Silent Pulsar of the Universe

Ben Proudfoot

While astrophysicists trace the past of the Universe, astronauts envisage the future of humanity in space. Until recently, these professions were unofficially reserved for a minority from which women and people of colour were excluded. The integration of a wider diversity of people into these domains has required the exceptional resilience of an unrelenting few motivated by their unlimited fascination with space. Presented in Cosmos Archaeology, these two films re-establish the contribution of two pioneers who were unjustly dismissed by the scientific institutions of their time and almost forgotten in the history of space exploration.

Motivated by her passion for physics, every single day of her entire PhD, Jocelyn Bell single-handedly operated a Cambridge University radiotelescope and analysed the unpredictable signals it detected. Her scientific knowledge and tenacity led to the discovery of the first pulsars, remnants of stars that behave like cosmic clocks that are now used to study the laws of gravitation. Although the Nobel committee chose to ignore Bell by awarding her thesis director the prize for her work, subsequent controversy gave rise to a new scientific prize that was awarded to Bell 50 years later in recognition of her scientific discoveries.

Courtesy of Breakwater Studios.