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Skywatch Lecture - "In pursuit of pulsars"

  • When: Monday, November 12, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: GE Theater at Proctors , Schenectady
  • Cost: $5 - $15
  • Age limit: All ages
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Jocelyn Bell Burnell - "In pursuit of pulsars"

Pulsars, or pulsating radio sources, are some of the most bizarre objects in the universe and have stretched our understanding of physics. They can be used to check Einstein's theories and one day may serve as navigation beacons for interstellar travel. This talk introduces these amazing objects.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, is a British astronomer, currently a Visiting Professor in the Univerity of Oxford, England, and a Professorial Fellow in Mansfield College, Oxford.

She discovered the first four pulsars (pulsating radio sources) when a graduate student. While using a radio telescope to study quasars, she detected a bit of "scruff" on her chart-recorder papers that tracked across the sky with the stars. Bell found that the signal was pulsing with great regularity, at a rate of about one pulse per second. Temporarily dubbed "Little Green Man 1" (LGM-1) the source was identified after several years as a rapidly rotating neutron star, for which her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics.

In the Beautiful Minds documentary she talks about how in science, "nothing is static, nothing is final, everything is held provisionally" and that "sometimes you have to abandon the picture".

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