The Royal Astronomical Society offers its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Professor John Barrow, who has died at the age of 67. Barrow’s many awards and prizes included the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, which he won in 2016 in recognition of his work as a world-renowned theoretical cosmologist.
Completing his first degree at the Durham University, he completed his doctorate at the University of Oxford, taking up a post there, before moving to the University of California at Berkeley, then in 1981 moving to the University of Sussex where he became director of the Astronomy Centre. Barrow moved to Cambridge University in 1999.
His work centred on cosmology, the resulting philosophical questions about the nature of the universe, and public engagement with physics and mathematics, including the Millennium Mathematics Project, which he directed from 1999. He authored more than 500 scientific papers over his career, ranging over topics such as the origin of cosmic magnetic fields, the synthesis of elements in the early Universe, and extensions of general relativity. He is also widely known through his popular books on astronomy, mathematics and physics, and was the only person since 1642 to have been elected to two different Gresham Professorships, in his case in Astronomy and Geometry.
Professor Emma Bunce, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said:
“John was a major global figure in cosmology and in science as a whole, pushing both academics and the wider public to consider the deep questions that underpin our understanding of the nature of the universe. Many of today’s leading scientists were inspired by his ideas and his intellectual generosity.”
Notes for editors
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organises scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognises outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 4,400 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.
In 2020 the RAS is 200 years old. The Society is celebrating its bicentennial anniversary with a series of events around the UK, including public lectures, exhibitions, an organ recital, a pop-up planetarium, and the culmination of the RAS 200: Sky & Earth project.
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