Leading space expert comes to Portsmouth

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WOMEN in science and the poetry of space were the topics which kicked off the second week of this year’s Portsmouth Festivities.

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, one of the country’s leading experts in astrophysics, treated audiences at Portsmouth Grammar School to in-depth talks about two of her great passions.

Kicking off with a discussion of the achievements of female scientists, and the challenges they still face in the modern world, Dame Burnell addressed students from schools, teachers and scientists.

Dr Nicky Thomas travelled from Romsey, where she teaches science at Hampshire Collegiate School, to hear her speak.

‘It was fantastic,’ she said. ‘Jocelyn speaks brilliantly, and the issue is still one of great importance. She discussed why women are still so under-represented in the sciences, and made a lot of sense.’

In the second session Dame Burnell – who was president of the Institute of Physics from 2008 to 2010 and is currently a visiting professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford – discussed poems about space and the universe by writers such as John Donne, Emily Dickinson and Philip Larkin.

· Organisers have announced that tomorrow’s Musickosmos event at 9.30pm in Portsmouth Cathedral has been cancelled.