Biography

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist. 

He is Regents’ Professor of Physics and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University, where he also runs a cancer research project and co-directs a cosmology program. He is also a Visiting Professor of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, a Visiting Professor Physics at the University of New South Wales and a Fellow of University College London. His research ranges from the origin of the universe to the origin of life and the nature of time. His work on the theory of quantum fields in curved spacetime is widely cited as an explanation for the ripples in the cosmic microwave background radiation – the fading afterglow of the big bang. He was also the first person to discover that accelerating observers perceive thermal radiation even when no thermal energy is present. 

In the early 1990s he championed the idea that microbial life could travel between Earth and Mars inside rocks ejected by comet and asteroid impacts, long before it became widely accepted. He has recently developed a new theory of cancer, tracing its deep evolutionary roots back to the dawn of multicellularity; this ‘atavism’ theory of cancer is now receiving experimental support. Davies has written several hundred research papers, newspaper and magazine articles, and about 30 books, many for the general public, the latest being The Eerie Silence: are we alone in the universe? He is well-known worldwide for his many media appearances. 

In Australia his TV series The Big Questions, filmed with Phillip Adams in the Outback, won wide acclaim. He also devised and presented a one hour BBC documentary called ‘The Cradle of Life’ and has produced, presented and participated in hundreds of radio and TV science features over the years. He has lectured in such diverse locations as the United Nations, Westminster Abbey, the European Commission, UNESCO, The Vatican, Parliament House in Canberra and – last but not least – Sydney Opera House, on one occasion with Stephen Hawking via holographic projection. Davies was recently described by Nature magazine as “The Disruptor” on account of his provocative scientific thinking. He is a recipient of the Templeton Prize, the Faraday Prize of The Royal Society, the Kelvin Medal of the UK Institute of Physics, the Robinson Cosmology Prize and the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. The asteroid 1992 OG was renamed (6870) Pauldavies in recognition of his work on cosmic impacts.

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