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Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor

Fascinated by radio astronomy from a young age, the Northern Irish astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge when in 1967 she made the first two recorded observations of pulsars – compact, electromagnetic radiation-emitting neutron stars that, until Bell’s discovery, were only theoretical. The news was almost instantly recognised as one of the most important astrophysics breakthroughs of the century. However, as this short film from the Canadian director Ben Proudfoot explores, Bell faced extraordinary obstacles and scepticism, even after the discovery that would make her one of the UK’s most recognisable scientists. With a kinetic editing style, Proudfoot’s film deftly chronicles how Bell’s colleagues, the media and scientific institutions undermined what, for a male scientist, would have been a career-making breakthrough.

Director: Ben Proudfoot

Producers: Elizabeth Brooke, Abby Lynn Kang Davis, Gabriel Berk Godoi, Brandon Somerhalder, Sarah Stewart

5 October 2021

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