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Paul Davies

Paul Davies

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Paul Charles William Davies, AM
Order of Australia
The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, "for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service"...

 (born 22 April 1946) is an English
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

, writer and broadcaster
Presenter
A presenter, or host , is a person or organization responsible for running an event. A museum or university, for example, may be the presenter or host of an exhibit. Likewise, a master of ceremonies is a person that hosts or presents a show...

, currently a professor at Arizona State University
Arizona State University
Arizona State University is a public research university located in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area of the State of Arizona...

 as well as the Director of BEYOND
Beyond
Beyond may refer to:In music:*Beyond , a Hong Kong rock band*Delaware , a Norwegian band originally named Beyond*Beyond *Beyond *Beyond...

: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He has held previous academic appointments at the 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...

, University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide
The University of Adelaide is a public university located in Adelaide, South Australia. Established in 1874, it is the third oldest university in Australia...

 and Macquarie University
Macquarie University
Macquarie University is an Australian public teaching and research university located in Sydney, with its main campus situated in Macquarie Park. Founded in 1964 by the New South Wales Government, it was the third university to be established in the metropolitan area of Sydney...

. His research interests are in the fields of 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...

, quantum field theory
Quantum field theory
Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

, and astrobiology
Astrobiology
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry,...

. He has proposed that a one-way trip to Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 could be a viable option.

In 2005, he took up the chair of the SETI
SETI
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is the collective name for a number of activities people undertake to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Some of the most well known projects are run by the SETI Institute. SETI projects use scientific methods to search for intelligent life...

: Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup of the International Academy of Astronautics
International Academy of Astronautics
The International Academy of Astronautics is an international community of experts committed to expanding the frontiers of space. It is a non-governmental organisation established in Stockholm on August 16, 1960....

. He is also an adviser to the Microbes Mind Forum.

Education


Davies was brought up in Finchley
Finchley
Finchley is a district in Barnet in north London, England. Finchley is on high ground, about north of Charing Cross. It formed an ancient parish in the county of Middlesex, becoming a municipal borough in 1933, and has formed part of Greater London since 1965...

 and attended Woodhouse Grammar School
Woodhouse College
Woodhouse College is a single site state sixth form college situated between North Finchley and Friern Barnet on the eastern side of the London Borough of Barnet...

 on Woodhouse Road. He then studied Physics at UCL
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...

, gaining a 1st class BSc
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 in 1967.

In 1970, he completed his PhD entitled Contributions to Theoretical Physics: (i) Radiation Damping in the Optical Continuum (ii) A Quantum Theory of Wheeler-Feynman Electrodynamics under Michael J. Seaton and Sigurd Zienau
Sigurd Zienau
-Education:His undergraduate studies were in mathematics at Birkbeck College. His further studies in physics were very much in the 'old school' European style at the time and he variously studied under Walter Heitler, Wolfgang Pauli, and Herbert Fröhlich.-Career:...

 at UCL. He then carried out postdoctoral research under 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...

 at Cambridge University
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...

.

Scientific research


Davies' inquiries have included theoretical physics
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

, 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...

, and astrobiology
Astrobiology
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry,...

; his research has been mainly in the area of quantum field theory
Quantum field theory
Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

 in curved spacetime. Notable contributions are the so-called Fulling–Davies–Unruh effect, according to which an observer accelerating through empty space will perceive a bath of thermal radiation
Thermal radiation
Thermal radiation is electromagnetic radiation generated by the thermal motion of charged particles in matter. All matter with a temperature greater than absolute zero emits thermal radiation....

, and the Bunch–Davies vacuum state, often used as the basis for explaining the fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation left over from 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...

. A paper co-authored with Stephen Fulling and William Unruh was the first to suggest that black holes evaporating via the Hawking
Hawking
- People :* Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist- Fictional characters :* James "Jim" Hawking, a character from the anime series, Outlaw Star- Other uses :...

 effect lose mass as a result of a flux of negative energy streaming into the hole from the surrounding space. Davies has had a longstanding association with the problem of time’s arrow
Arrow of time
The arrow of time, or time’s arrow, is a term coined in 1927 by the British astronomer Arthur Eddington to describe the "one-way direction" or "asymmetry" of time...

, and was also a forerunner of the theory that life on Earth may have come from Mars cocooned in rocks ejected by asteroid and comet impacts. During his time in Australia he helped establish the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. Davies was an author on the widely criticized Science article "A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus."

Awards


Davies' talent as a communicator of science has been recognized in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 by an Advance Australia Award
Advance Australia Award
The Advance Australia Foundation was established in 1980. The AAF recognised "individuals or groups who have made outstanding contributions to the growth and enhancement of Australia, the Australian people and the Australian way of life"....

 and two Eureka Prizes, and in the UK by the 2001 Kelvin Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics
Institute of Physics
The Institute of Physics is a scientific charity devoted to increasing the practice, understanding and application of physics. It has a worldwide membership of around 40,000....

, and the 2002 Faraday Prize by The 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"...

. Davies received 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...

 in 1995.

Davies was made a member of the Order of Australia
Order of Australia
The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, "for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service"...

 in the 2007 Queen's birthday honours list.

The asteroid 6870 Pauldavies
6870 Pauldavies
6870 Pauldavies is an inner main-belt asteroid discovered on July 28, 1992 by R. H. McNaught at Siding Spring.- External links :*...

 is named after him.

Media activity


Davies writes and comments on scientific and philosophical issues. He made a documentary series for BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 is a national radio station operated by the BBC within the United Kingdom. Its output centres on classical music and opera, but jazz, world music, drama, culture and the arts also feature. The station is the world’s most significant commissioner of new music, and its New Generation...

, and two Australian television series, The Big Questions
The Big Questions
The Big Questions is a faith and ethics television programme usually presented by Nicky Campbell. It is currently broadcast live on BBC One between 10:00am and 11:00am on Sunday, replacing Heaven & Earth as the BBC's religious discussion programme....

and More Big Questions. His BBC documentary The Cradle of Life featured the subject of his Faraday Prize lecture. He writes regularly for newspapers and magazines worldwide. He has been guest on numerous radio and television programmes including the children podcast programme Ask A Biologist
Ask A Biologist
Ask A Biologist is a science outreach program originating from Arizona State University's School of Life Sciences.-About the program:Ask A Biologist is a pre-kindergarten through high school program dedicated to answering questions from students, their teachers, and parents...

.

An opinion piece published in the New York Times generated controversy over its exploration of the role of faith in scientific inquiry. Davies argued that the faith scientists have in the immutability of physical laws has origins in Christian theology, and that the claim that science is "free of faith" is "manifestly bogus." The Edge Foundation presented a criticism of Davies' article written by Jerry Coyne
Jerry Coyne
-Online articles:* , The New Republic* , The New Republic* , The New Republic* ", The New Republic * -Online articles:* , The New Republic* , The New Republic* , The New Republic* ", The New Republic (Review of Michael Behe's The Edge of Evolution)* -Online articles:* , The New Republic* , The...

, Nathan Myhrvold
Nathan Myhrvold
Nathan Paul Myhrvold , formerly Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, is co-founder of Intellectual Ventures. Myhrvold, usually with coinventors, holds 17 U.S. patents assigned to Microsoft and has applied for more than 500 patents. In addition, Myhrvold and coinventors hold 115 U.S...

, Lawrence Krauss, Scott Atran
Scott Atran
Scott Atran is an American and French anthropologist.-Education and early career:Atran was born in New York City in 1952 and he received his PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. While a student at Columbia, he became assistant to anthropologist Margaret Mead at the American Museum of...

, Sean Carroll
Sean Carroll
Sean Carroll may refer to:*Sean B. Carroll , US evolutionary biologist*Sean M. Carroll , US theoretical physicist*Seán Carroll , Irish Sinn Féin politician...

, Jeremy Bernstein, PZ Myers
PZ Myers
Paul Zachary "PZ" Myers is an American biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris and the author of the Pharyngula science blog. He is currently an associate professor of biology at UMM, works with zebrafish in the field of evolutionary developmental biology , and also cultivates an...

, Lee Smolin
Lee Smolin
Lee Smolin is an American theoretical physicist, a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo. He is married to Dina Graser, a communications lawyer in Toronto. His brother is David M...

, John Horgan
John Horgan
John Horgan may refer to:*John Horgan , Australian politician, Western Australia MLC;*John Horgan , Canadian politician, British Columbia NDP MLA...

, Alan Sokal
Alan Sokal
Alan David Sokal is a professor of mathematics at University College London and professor of physics at New York University. He works in statistical mechanics and combinatorics. To the general public he is best known for his criticism of postmodernism, resulting in the Sokal affair in...

 and a response by Davies beginning I was dismayed at how many of my detractors completely misunderstood what I had written. Indeed, their responses bore the hallmarks of a superficial knee-jerk reaction to the sight of the words "science" and "faith" juxtaposed. While atheists Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

 and Victor J. Stenger
Victor J. Stenger
Victor John Stenger is an American particle physicist, outspoken atheist, and author, now active in philosophy and popular religious skepticism....

 have criticised Davies' public stance on science and religion, others, including the John Templeton Foundation
John Templeton Foundation
"The John Templeton Foundation is a philanthropic organizationthat funds inter-disciplinary research about human purpose and ultimate reality. It is usually referred to simply as the Templeton Foundation...

 have praised his work.
Davies wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal where he described the background to the 2 Dec 2010 arsenic bacteria press conference and stated that he supported the 'arsenic can replace phosphorus' idea of Felisa Wolfe-Simon
Felisa Wolfe-Simon
Felisa Wolfe-Simon is an American microbial geobiologist and biogeochemist. As a NASA research fellow in residence at the US Geological Survey and a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Wolfe-Simon led the team that discovered GFAJ-1, an extremophile bacterium that they claim is capable of...

 because "I had the advantage of being unencumbered by knowledge. I dropped chemistry at the age of 16, and all I knew about arsenic came from Agatha Christie novels."

Davies in popular culture

  • The novel Naive, Super
    Naive, Super
    Naïve. Super. is a novel by the Norwegian Erlend Loe. It was first published in 1996 in Norwegian, where it was very popular. In 2006, it was on the newspaper Dagbladet's list of the best Norwegian novels 1981-2006. The novel has since been translated into nineteen other languages...

    , by Norwegian writer Erlend Loe
    Erlend Loe
    Erlend Loe is a Norwegian novelist and screenwriter. He has gained popularity in Scandinavia with his humorous and sometimes naïve novels, although his stories have become darker in tone, moving towards a more satirical criticism of modern Norwegian society.-Biography:Erlend Loe worked at a...

     (translated by Tor Ketil Solberg), published in 1996, refers to Davies frequently.
  • He has an Erdős Number
    Erdos number
    The Erdős number describes the "collaborative distance" between a person and mathematician Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers.The same principle has been proposed for other eminent persons in other fields.- Overview :...

     of three.
  • Numbers (season 5, episode 12) refers to Paul Davies' Cosmic Think Tank at Arizona State.
  • Lawrence Leungs Unbelievable (season 1, episode 3), Leung interviews Paul Davies on Alien abduction, where Paul admits to having experienced sleep paralysis.

Popular books

  • 1974 The Physics of Time Asymmetry, ISBN 0-520-03247-0
  • 1978 The Runaway Universe ISBN 0-460-04286-6
  • 1979 Stardoom ISBN 0-00-635318-5
  • 1980 Other Worlds, ISBN 0-460-04400-1
  • 1981 The Edge of Infinity, ISBN 0-14-023194-3
  • 1982 The Accidental Universe ISBN 0-521-28692-1
  • 1982 Quantum Fields in Curved Space (with N.D. Birrell), ISBN 0-521-27858-9
  • 1983 God and the New Physics
    God and the New Physics
    God and the New Physics is a 1984 scientific book written by English scientist Paul Davies. The book deals fundamentally with cosmology although throughout the text several sciences are mentioned, such as: physics, mathematics, neurology, and philosophy. It deals with a wide variety of...

    ISBN 0-14-022550-1
  • 1984 Superforce, ISBN 0-04-539006-1
  • 1986 The Ghost in the Atom, ISBN 0-521-31316-3
  • 1987 The Cosmic Blueprint, ISBN 0-04-440182-5
  • 1988 Superstrings: A Theory of Everything ISBN 0-521-35741-1
  • 1991 The Matter Myth, ISBN 0-670-83585-4
  • 1992 The Mind of God
    The Mind of God
    The Mind of God is a 1992 non-fiction book by Paul Davies. Subtitled The Scientific Basis for a Rational World, it is a whirlwind tour and explanation of theories, both physical and metaphysical, regarding ultimate causes...

    , ISBN 0-671-71069-9
  • 1994 The Last Three Minutes ISBN 1-85799-336-5
  • 1995 Are We Alone? ISBN 0-14-025179-0
  • 1995 About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution
    About Time (book)
    About Time is the second book written by Paul Davies, regarding the subject of time. The intended audience is the general public, rather than science academics....

    , ISBN 0-670-84761-5
  • 1998 The Fifth Miracle: : The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0684837994
  • 2002 How to Build a Time Machine
    How to Build a Time Machine
    How to Build a Time Machine by Paul Davies is a 2002, non-fiction book that discusses the possibilities of time travel. It was published by Penguin Books....

    ISBN 0-14-100534-3
  • 2007 The Goldilocks Enigma, also under the title Cosmic Jackpot
    Cosmic Jackpot
    Cosmic Jackpot, also published under the title The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?, is a 2007 non-fiction book by physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies, describing the idea of a fine-tuned Universe.-The Enigma:...

    , ISBN 0-14-102326-0
  • 2008 Quantum Aspects of Life
    Quantum Aspects of Life
    Quantum Aspects of Life is a 2008 science text, with a foreword by Sir Roger Penrose, which notably explores the open question of the role of quantum mechanics at molecular scales of relevance to biology. The book adopts a debate-like style and contains chapters written by various world-experts;...

    (Eds. Derek Abbott
    Derek Abbott
    Derek Abbott is a physicist and electronic engineer. He is a Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Adelaide, Australia...

    , Paul C. W. Davies, and Arun K. Pati
    Arun K. Pati
    Arun Kumar Pati is a physicist notable for his research in quantum information and computation, the theory of geometric phases and its applications, and the foundations of quantum mechanics.-Career:...

    , with foreword by Sir Roger Penrose
    Roger Penrose
    Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College...

    ), ISBN 1-84816-267-7
  • 2010 The Eerie Silence, ISBN 1-4001-6551-2
  • 2010 Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics, ISBN 978-0521762250

Essays and papers

  • "What Happened Before the Big Bang?" in God for the 21st Century, Russell Stannard
    Russell Stannard
    Russell Stannard is a retired high-energy particle physicist, who was born in London, England, on December 24, 1931. He currently holds the position of Professor Emeritus of Physics at the Open University...

     ed., Templeton Foundation Press, 2000, ISBN 1890151394

External links


Videos


On an Ultimate Explanation: