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We are made of star stuff

This Tuesday, the Scientific Society was privileged enough to host Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell for its final meeting of the year. Dame Jocelyn is a prominent astrophysicist credited with having discovered radio pulsars in 1967, which is regarded by many as one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century. However, somewhat controversially, she was not awarded a Nobel Prize for her work. She came to deliver a talk with the intriguing title ‘We are made of star stuff.’ 

In her talk, Dame Jocelyn began by explaining the connection between the Big Bang, the star formation and the chemical elements in our bodies. She talked about how the most basic particles first appeared during the Big Bang and how the life cycles of stars then led to the formation of other more complex elements.

As the star’s life cycle ends, these elements are ‘spewed out’ eventually leading to them becoming prominent on planet earth, and thus become the elements that compose our bodies today. In the words of Dame Jocelyn: ‘we are children of the stars.’

Everyone present really enjoyed Dame Jocelyn’s accessible, humorous and intellectually stimulating talk, and we would like to thank her for coming to deliver it.  

Thomas Hilditch

DATE POSTED: 19 May 2019

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