Pulsar discoverer wins $3 million prize … at last

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell is featured in an episode of the BBC documentary series “Beautiful Minds.” (BBC Photo)

British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell missed out on a share of the Nobel Prize for her part in the discovery of the first radio pulsars in 1967, but now she has a $3 million Breakthrough Prize all to herself.

Bell Burnell’s selection for the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was announced today, and she’ll receive the award during a Nov. 4 ceremony that will also honor winners of the annual prizes in physics, life sciences and math.

Organizers of the Breakthrough Prize program said the award serves to recognize Bell Burnell’s “fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community,”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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