Prof Roy Kerr honoured in UC Chancellor's Dinner
07 December 2016
The University of Canterbury has awarded the rare honour of the Canterbury Distinguished Professor title to Emeritus Professor Roy Kerr.
The University of Canterbury has awarded the coveted Council Medals for 2016, recognising Academic Excellence in Research and Innovation (to UC academics David Schiel and Michael Tarren-Sweeney, respectively) in the annual Chancellor's Dinner. This year the rare honour of the title ‘Canterbury Distinguished Professor’ was also bestowed on one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded academics, whose discovery of the Kerr black hole was so extraordinary that it is comparable to the discovery of a new elementary particle.
Canterbury Distinguished Professor and Emeritus Professor Roy Kerr, recipient of the Crafoord Prize
In 1963, before advanced computers existed, Prof Kerr solved some of the most difficult equations of physics by hand. He found the exact solution of Einstein's equations that describes rotating black holes. Prof Kerr's discovery sparked a revolution in physics. At that time there was no consensus that such objects even existed; the term “black hole” was only coined in 1967.
Stephen Hawking described Kerr's discovery in his book, A Brief History of Time. The Royal Society of London described his work as of particular importance to general relativistic astrophysics, and all subsequent detailed work on black holes has depended fundamentally on it.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded him The Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 2016 (worth over $NZ1 million) “for fundamental work concerning rotating black holes and their astrophysical consequences”.
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