Honorary Fellow awarded the Isaac Newton medal

Martin Rees

Professor Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow) has been awarded the Isaac Newton medal for outstanding contributions to relativistic astrophysics and cosmology.

The medal is awarded by the Institute of Physics (IOP) to 'any physicist, regardless of subject area, background or nationality, for outstanding contributions to physics'. The medal will be accompanied by a prize of £1000 and a certificate.

Martin Rees was a Fellow of King's between 1969 and 2003, and was elected an Honorary Fellow in 2008. His one of the most eminent and respected astrophysicists in the world.

He has won numerous awards, including the Gruber Prize in Cosmology (2001), the Michael Faraday Prize (2004), and the Templeton Prize (2011). He is the Astronomer Royal, the President of the Royal Society and a working Peer.

IOP Isaac Newton medal citation

Martin Rees is responsible for paradigm-shifting papers in galaxy formation, active galactic nuclei and cosmic explosions. His papers are direct, graceful and accessible to theorists and observers, students and professors. He first attracted astronomical attention with a 1967 prediction that rapidly varying radio sources would show structural changes seemingly faster that the speed of light. This was confirmed in 1973. A second major prediction (with P. Meszaros) of long-wavelength afterglows to gamma ray bursts was also rapidly confirmed.

His major contributions include: fitting quasars into the history of the universe, showing that their numbers evolve (with D. Sciama), that their observed properties follow if the basic energy mechanism is the expulsion from near a black hole of two, oppositely-directed, relativistic jets (with R. Blandford), and the prediction that every large galaxy should have a central supermassive black hole; predicting properties of the 3K background radiation, including its polarization (seen 38 years later) and secondary anisotropies introduced between us and the last scattering surface (the Rees-Sciama effect); fundamental work on galaxy formation and cold dark matter (with S. White) and how the processes could be probed using highly red-shifted 21 cm radiation from neutral hydrogen (with D. Scott and H. Couchman); radiation mechanisms and physical processes near black holes in Active Galactic Nuclei and x-ray binaries, and many other topics including star formation, origin of the x-ray background, fine-tuning and implications for multiverses, origin of cosmic magnetic fields, and sources and effects of gravitational radiation and cosmic strings.

In addition to the significance of his own research and the mentoring of more than 40 students and postdocs, he has made an enormous impact on public understanding of science through his non-technical books and many articles for newspapers and magazines. He has also provided leadership for the Royal Society, the Institute of Astronomy and Trinity College, Cambridge, and as board member or trustee for many other organisations.

See the IOP website.

4 July 2012