George Ellis

George Ellis

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George Francis Rayner Ellis, FRS, (born August 11, 1939) is the Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Complex Systems
Complex systems
Complex systems present problems in mathematical modelling.The equations from which complex system models are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics, and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of systems of nature that are considered...

 in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...

 in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. He co-authored The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 physicist Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

, published in 1973, and is considered one of the world's leading theorists in cosmology
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

. He is an active Quaker and in 2004 he won the Templeton Prize
Templeton Prize
The Templeton Prize is an annual award presented by the Templeton Foundation. Established in 1972, it is awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical...

. From 1989 to 1992 he served as President of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation. He is a past President of the International Society for Science and Religion
International Society for Science and Religion
The International Society for Science and Religion is a learned society established in 2001 for the purpose of the promotion of education through the support of inter-disciplinary learning and research in the fields of science and religion conducted where possible in an international and...

. He is an A-rated researcher with the NRF.

Ellis was a vocal opponent of apartheid during the National Party
National Party (South Africa)
The National Party is a former political party in South Africa. Founded in 1914, it was the governing party of the country from 4 June 1948 until 9 May 1994. Members of the National Party were sometimes known as Nationalists or Nats. Its policies included apartheid, the establishment of a...

 reign in the 1970s and 1980s, and it is during this period that Ellis' research has focused on the more philosophical aspects of cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

, for which he won the Templeton Prize
Templeton Prize
The Templeton Prize is an annual award presented by the Templeton Foundation. Established in 1972, it is awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical...

. He was also awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa
Order of the Star of South Africa
The Order of the Star of South Africa was a South African honour. It was instituted on 1 July 1975, and was granted by the state president of South Africa, for services connected with national defence and security. It replaced the Star of South Africa decoration, instituted in 1952. The order...

 by Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

, in 1999. On May 18, 2007, he was elected a Fellow
Fellow
A fellow in the broadest sense is someone who is an equal or a comrade. The term fellow is also used to describe a person, particularly by those in the upper social classes. It is most often used in an academic context: a fellow is often part of an elite group of learned people who are awarded...

 of the British Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

.

In 2005 Ellis appeared as a guest speaker at the Nobel Conference in St. Peter, Minnesota
St. Peter, Minnesota
St. Peter is a city in Nicollet County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 11,196 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Nicollet County.St...

.

Biography


Born in 1939 to George Rayner Ellis, a newspaper editor, and Gwendoline Hilda MacRobert Ellis in Johannesburg, George Francis Rayner Ellis attended the University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...

, where he graduated with honours in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics with distinction. He represented the university in fencing, rowing and flying.

While a student at Cambridge University, where he received a PhD. in applied maths and theoretical physics in 1964, he was on college rowing teams.

At Cambridge, Ellis served as a research fellow from 1965 to 1967, was assistant lecturer in the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics until 1970, and was then appointed university lecturer, serving until 1974.

Ellis rapidly established himself within academic circles, becoming a visiting professor at the Enrico Fermi Institute at 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...

 in 1970, a lecturer at the Cargese Summer School in Corsica in 1971 and the Erice Summer School in Sicily in 1972, and a visiting H3 professor at the University of Hamburg
University of Hamburg
The University of Hamburg is a university in Hamburg, Germany. It was founded on 28 March 1919 by Wilhelm Stern and others. It grew out of the previous Allgemeines Vorlesungswesen and the Kolonialinstitut as well as the Akademisches Gymnasium. There are around 38,000 students as of the start of...

, also in 1972.

The following year, Ellis co-wrote The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

, debuting at a strategic moment in the development of General Relativity Theory.

In the following year, Ellis returned to South Africa to accept an appointment as Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...

, a position he held until his retirement in 2005.

Ideas


George Ellis proposed a model universe that contains a naked singularity
Naked singularity
In general relativity, a naked singularity is a gravitational singularity, without an event horizon. In a black hole, there is a region around the singularity, the event horizon, where the gravitational force of the singularity is strong enough so that light cannot escape. Hence, the singularity...

 as a recycling mechanism, which, he claims, gives almost as good a description of the real universe as the conventional model.

In terms of philosophy of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

, Ellis is a Platonist.

Books

  • (with Stephen Hawking
    Stephen Hawking
    Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

    ):
  • (with David Dewar): Low Income Housing Policy in South Africa, Urban Problems Research Unit, UCT, 1979.
  • (with Ruth Williams): Flat and Curved Space Times, Oxford University Press, 1988, revised 2000.
  • Before the Beginning: Cosmology Explained, Bowerdean/Marion Boyars, 1993.
  • (with A. Lanza and J. Miller): The Renaissance of General Relativity and Cosmology. University Press, Cambridge 1993; paperback, 2005.
  • Science Research Policy in South Africa, Royal Society of South Africa, 1994.
  • (with Nancey Murphy
    Nancey Murphy
    Nancey Murphy is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA. She received the B.A. from Creighton University in 1973, the Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in 1980, and the Th.D...

    ): On The Moral Nature of the universe: Cosmology, Theology, and Ethics. Fortress Press, 1996.
  • (with John Wainwright, Eds.):
  • (with Peter Coles
    Peter Coles
    Peter Coles is Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at Cardiff University where he has worked since 2007.He was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle. He did his first degree at Magdalene College, Cambridge in Natural Sciences, specialising in Theoretical...

    ): Is The Universe Open or Closed? The Density of Matter in the Universe. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • (Ed.): The Far Future Universe, Templeton Foundation Press, 2002.
  • Science in Faith and Hope: an interaction, Quaker Books, 2004.

Papers


Ellis has over 500 published articles including 17 in Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

. Notable papers include:
  • "Cosmological perturbations and the physical meaning of gauge-invariant variables" (with Marco Bruni, Peter K. S. Dunsby) The Astrophysical Journal, volume 395 (1992)
  • "Schwarzschild black hole lensing" (with K. S. Virbhadra) [Phys. Rev. D 62084003, (2000)]
  • "arXiv:gr-qc/9812046v5 Cosmological models" (Cargèse Lectures 1998) (with Henk van Elst)
  • "The case for an open Universe" in Nature
    Nature (journal)
    Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

     370, 609–615 (25 August 1994)
  • "Physics, complexity and causality" in Nature
    Nature (journal)
    Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

     435, p. 743 (9 June 2005)
  • "Gravitational lensing by naked singularities" (with K. S. Virbhadra) [Phys. Rev. D 65, 103004 (2002)]

External links


See also the transcript of the above radio interview ...
  • http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/scienceandhope/transcript.shtml