The Bruce Medalists


  Photo 1966, courtesy University of California, San Diego
Geoffrey Ronald Burbidge
24 September 1925 1999 Bruce Medalist 26 January 2010

Geoff Burbidge was born in England and educated at the University of Bristol and University College, London, where he earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1951. He said that he got into astronomy by marrying an astronomer. He worked at Harvard University, Yerkes Observatory, Cambridge University, Mt. Wilson & Palomar Observatories, and the California Institute of Technology, and he was at the University of California, San Diego from 1962 until his death, aside from six years (1978-84) as director of the Kitt Peak National Observatory. In 1957 he, Margaret Burbidge, William A. Fowler, and Fred Hoyle showed how all of the elements except the very lightest are produced by nuclear reactions in stellar interiors. He did extensive research into the physics of non-thermal radiation processes. He contributed to our knowledge of structures and masses of galaxies and of the physics and structure of quasars. He served from 1974-2004 as editor of the Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He was a gadfly to cosmologists, frequently challenging the prevailing big bang models. In 2000, long after nearly all cosmologists had accepted the evidence for an evolving universe, he, Fred Hoyle, and N.V. Narlikar expressed continued support for a (quasi) steady state universe.

Personal Web Page

Presentation of Bruce medal
Filippenko, Alexei V., Mercury 28, 3, 5 (1999).

Other awards
American Astronomical Society, Helen Warner Prize, 1959 (with Margaret Burbidge)
Indian National Science Academy, Vainu Bappu Memorial Award, 1989.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Jansky Prize, 1985.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 2005 (with Margaret Burbidge).

Some offices held
Astronomical Society of the Pacific, President, 1974-76.

Biographical materials
Bonnet-Bidaud, Jean-Marc, “Geoffrey Burbidge: L’art de la critique,” Ciel & Espace, 325, 32-36 (1997) [in French].
Burbidge, Geoffrey, “An Accidental Career,” Annual Reviews of Astronomy & Astrophysics 45, 1-41 (2007)
Robinson, Leif J., “Geoffrey Burbidge: KPNO’s Man at the Top,” Sky & Telescope 66, 195 (1983).

Anonymous, The Telegraph, 25 March 2010.
Faulkner, John, The Guardian, 18 February 2010.
Gonzalez, Blanca, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 January 2010.
Maugh II, Thomas H., Los Angeles Times, 31 January 2010.
McDonald, Kim, University of California, San Diego, 28 January 2010.
Narlikar, Jayant V., Physics Today 63 (10), 65-66 (2010).
Overbye, Dennis, New York Times, 6 February 2010.
Sacco, Laurent, Futura-Sciences, 4 February 2010 [in French].
Trimble, Virginia, Astronomy & Geophysics 51, 2.37-2.38 (2010).
Wolfe, Arthur, PASP 122, 1255-57 (2010).
Wolfe, Arthur, Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 43, 005 (2011).

AIP Center for History of Physics (several)
Caltech Archives (several)
Clemson University Photo Archive in Nuclear Astrophysics
National Optical Astronomy Observatories

Named after him
Minor Planet #11753 Geoffburbidge

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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