If you want to win $3m, just get yourself featured in my blog (maybe).

Last year I wrote how several previously anonymous women in science were finally getting the recognition they deserved for their past achievements.  One of the women featured, Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, had “discovered” pulsars as part of her Doctoral research, but it was her supervisor who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974.

Today it was announced in The Guardian that Jocelyn Bell-Burnell had jocelynbell04.jpgbeen chosen by a panel of leading scientists to receive the £2.3m special Breakthrough prize in fundamental physics for work on pulsars and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.

And, befitting for a modern hero, rather than take the money and run as many of us might have done, Jocelyn has decided to pass on the prize to the Institute of Physics to fund PhD studentships for people underrepresented in physics.

A lot of the pulsar story happened because I was a minority person and a PhD student.  Increasing the diversity in physics could lead to all sorts of good things.

Additionally, The Times today carries the story of how English Heritage are trying to retrospectively identify the nurses who worked at Wrest Park military hospital Bedfordshire from 1914 to 1916.  In an attempt to identify the “forgotten” nurses who worked there, old black-and-white images from the hospital have been transformed into colour for the first time, and readers have been asked to respond if they recognise any old family members as no formal records exist of many of the nurses who served there during the war.

The day after the war started, Wrest Park was offered by its owner (Auberon Herbert, 9th Baron Lucas) directly to Winston Churchill (First Lord of the Admiralty) as a place to treat wounded servicemen.  A month later, on September 7, it was ready to receive its first patients and it functioned as an auxiliary hospital for two years before it was closed after a fire on September 14, 1916.  However, it was Nan Herbert, the sister of the former owner, who was the driving force behind the hospital.


Andrew Hann, an English Heritage historian, said:

“She managed to transform it from a country house into a functioning convalescent home, including introducing electricity, which had not been on site previously, with a generator…
Such hospitals were hugely important…  We would not have been able to cope in terms of providing care for the wounded without their help. It would be wonderful if the public could help us identify these forgotten women.”

Slowly, another step is taken towards the creation of a history that records the experience of all, not just the preoccupations of a European elite.