Geoffrey Burbidge

Geoffrey Burbidge

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Geoffrey Ronald Burbidge FRS (24 September 1925 – 26 January 2010) was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

, most recently at the University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Diego, commonly known as UCSD or UC San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, United States...

. He was married to astrophysicist Dr. Margaret Burbidge
Margaret Burbidge
Eleanor Margaret Burbidge, née Peachey, FRS is a British-born American astrophysicist, noted for original research and holding many administrative posts, including director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory....



He first attended the University of Bristol
University of Bristol
The University of Bristol is a public research university located in Bristol, United Kingdom. One of the so-called "red brick" universities, it received its Royal Charter in 1909, although its predecessor institution, University College, Bristol, had been in existence since 1876.The University is...

 to study history, but changed to physics. He went to London and received his PhD from University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 in 1951.

In this period, he met Margaret Peachey and they married in 1948.


The Burbidges worked at Harvard, the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 and Cambridge University, before Margaret obtained work at the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

, while Geoffrey worked at the Mount Wilson Observatory
Mount Wilson Observatory
The Mount Wilson Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The MWO is located on Mount Wilson, a 5,715 foot peak in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, northeast of Los Angeles...

 and Palomar Observatory
Palomar Observatory
Palomar Observatory is a privately owned observatory located in San Diego County, California, southeast of Pasadena's Mount Wilson Observatory, in the Palomar Mountain Range. At approximately elevation, it is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology...


They obtained positions at the University of California
University of California
The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...

, San Diego, in 1962.

He was the Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory
Kitt Peak National Observatory
The Kitt Peak National Observatory is a United States astronomical observatory located on 2,096 m Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O'odham Nation, southwest of Tucson...

 from 1978 to 1984.


In 1957 he and his wife were co-authors, together with William Fowler
William Alfred Fowler
William Alfred "Willy" Fowler was an American astrophysicist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983. He should not be confused with the British astronomer Alfred Fowler....

, the American physicist, and Fred Hoyle
Fred Hoyle
Sir Fred Hoyle FRS was an English astronomer and mathematician noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stance on other cosmological and scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the "Big Bang" theory, a term originally...

, the British astronomer, of a famous paper on stellar nucleosynthesis
Stellar nucleosynthesis
Stellar nucleosynthesis is the collective term for the nuclear reactions taking place in stars to build the nuclei of the elements heavier than hydrogen. Some small quantity of these reactions also occur on the stellar surface under various circumstances...

, which was referred to as the B2FH paper, after the initials of the surnames of the four authors. This paper described the process of stars burning lighter elements into successively heavier atoms which were then expelled to form other structures in the universe, including planets.

Alternative cosmology

In recent years Burbidge was known mostly for his alternative cosmology
Non-standard cosmology
A non-standard cosmology is any physical cosmological model of the universe that has been, or still is, proposed as an alternative to the big bang model of standard physical cosmology...

 "quasi-steady state theory", which contradicts the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...


According to Burbidge, the universe is oscillatory
Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value or between two or more different states. Familiar examples include a swinging pendulum and AC power. The term vibration is sometimes used more narrowly to mean a mechanical oscillation but sometimes...

 and as such expands and contracts periodically over infinite time. This theory, due to its controversial nature, has brought a certain amount of fame (or even infamy) to Burbidge.


  • Warner Prize
    Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy
    The Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy is awarded annually by the American Astronomical Society to a young astronomer for a significant contribution to observational or theoretical astronomy....

    , with his wife (1959)
  • Bruce Medal
    Bruce Medal
    The Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal is awarded every year by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for outstanding lifetime contributions to astronomy. It is named after Catherine Wolfe Bruce, an American patroness of astronomy, and was first awarded in 1898...

  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
    -History:In the early years, more than one medal was often awarded in a year, but by 1833 only one medal was being awarded per year. This caused a problem when Neptune was discovered in 1846, because many felt an award should jointly be made to John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier...

  • NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing of the National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...


Named after him
  • Asteroid
    Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

     11753 Geoffburbidge
    11753 Geoffburbidge
    - External links :*...

External links