Paul Davies is a British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and best-selling author. He is Regents' Professor and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative, and Principal Investigator in the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology, all at Arizona State University. Previously he held academic appointments at the Universities of Cambridge, London and Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, before moving to Australia in 1990, initially as Professor of Mathematical Physics at The University of Adelaide. Later he helped found the Australian Centre for Astrobiology.
Davies’s research interests are focused on the “big questions” of existence, ranging from the origin of the universe to the origin of life, and include the nature of time, the search for life in the universe and foundational questions in quantum mechanics. He helped create the theory of quantum fields in curved spacetime, with which he provided explanations for how black holes can radiate energy, and what caused the ripples in the cosmic afterglow of the big bang. In astrobiology, he was a forerunner of the theory that life on Earth may have come from Mars. He is currently championing the theory that Earth may host a shadow biosphere of alternative life forms.
In addition to his research, Davies is known as a passionate science communicator, and is in demand world-wide for media appearances and public presentations. He has lectured on scientific topics at institutions as diverse as The World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the Commission of the European Union, Google, Windsor Castle, The Vatican and Westminster Abbey, as well as mainstream academic establishments such as The Royal Society, The Smithsonian Institution, the New York Academy of Sciences, The American Association for the Advancement of Science and hundreds of universities. He has twice debated scientific topics with the Dalai Lama, and contributed to numerous debates about science, religion and culture. His 28 popular and specialist books have been translated into over 20 languages, and are notable for presenting complex ideas in accessible terms. Among his best sellers are The Mind of God, About Time, How to Build a Time Machine, The Fifth Miracle and The Goldilocks Enigma. His latest book, The Eerie Silence, is about the search for intelligent life in the universe, and will be published in early 2010. Davies devised and presented a highly successful series of 45 minute BBC Radio 3 science documentaries, and a one-hour television documentary about his work in astrobiology, entitled The Cradle of Life. In Australia his many television projects included two six-part series The Big Questions, filmed in the outback, and More Big Questions.
Paul Davies has won many awards, including the 1995 Templeton Prize for his work on the deeper implications of science, the 2001 Kelvin Medal from the UK Institute of Physics, and the 2002 Michael Faraday Prize from the Royal Society for promoting science to the public. In April 1999 the asteroid 1992 OG was officially named (6870) Pauldavies. In June 2007 he was named a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Is anybody down there?
Paul Davies makes the case for looking Earthward.
The question of whether or not we are alone in the Universe has always fascinated me, but when I was a student the id...
Do we have the right to colonise other planets?
Quite apart from the practicalities, there are serious ethical issues at stake.
The following is an excerpt from the article “Packing for our longest journey” about the right to colonise other plan...
Wings may be universal. Smarts, not so much.
Are we alone in the universe? Include science in the discussion.
Although we have no clue how life began, and no way to estimate the odds, many astrobiologists believe life gets goin...
Astrobiology: Did Mars and Earth swap microbes?
The concept of travel between planets.
Astrobiology is based on the hope that life is widespread in the universe. There are two ways this might be the case....
What to look for in the search for ET
Agreeing on a definition of life is a bedevilled exercise.
The search for life beyond Earth is hampered by a fundamental conundrum: there is no agreed definition of what life a...
Chandrasekhar: Black holes from absurd to fact
A shipbound student was the first to figure out the fate of dying stars.
In 1930 a 20-year-old Indian student named Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was sailing from Madras to England to pursue hi...
History’s most successful mathematical prediction
Power of physical theory drives us to know world in finer detail.
When Sir James Jeans proclaimed “God is a pure mathematician!” he was referring to the fact that most basic processes...
How geometry resolved a lengthy border dispute
Length of a boundary depends on the scale measured.
When Matthew Flinders completed the first circumnavigation of Australia in 1803, he readily established it as the wor...
Some infinities are bigger than others
There are two types of infinity, and it doesn’t stop there.
Few numbers have exercised more fascination, and confusion, than infinity. I can remember asking my father at a young...
“Microscopic blobs” confirmed as earliest known microbes
Proof that 3.5 billion-year-old chemical signatures are evidence of the earliest known microbes.
Life has existed on planet Earth for most of its 4.5 billion-year history, but pinning down the oldest traces has bee...
The 64 question that’s central to life
Structure of DNA indicates every species on Earth descended from a common ancestor.
Since ancient Greece it has been appreciated that pattern and form pervade the living world, from the arrangements of...
Why is a neutron heavier than a proton?
The slightest difference makes them weapons of mass creation.
Galileo famously wrote that the book of nature is “written in mathematical language”. It’s true that numbers crop up ...
The real gleam in the imaginary ‘i’
Scope & power of mathematical manipulations are broadened.
Credit: Jeffrey Phillips
The old aphorism “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” has a mathematical equivalent: multiplying...
Make a date with another dimension
The universe is a lot more complicated than people think.
We may have the dimensions wrong.
Credit: Jeffrey Phillips
Alice and Bob are colleagues at a New York law firm. They...
Explore the potential of exponential growth
Mathematics could help you get a good deal at the bank.
The 'Exponential Growth' formula wasn't a gimmick after all!
Credit: Jeffrey Phillips
Few people love mathematics. A...
The number at the heart of a cosmic coincidence
One huge ratio helps explain two very different phenomena.
The number 1040 has fascinated scientists throughout history
Credit: Jeffrey Phillips
Scientists are used to dealing...
The square root of 2
The mathematical truth upset the ancient Pythagoreans.
The Pythagorean philosophers of ancient Greece had a deep regard for numbers. Arithmetic and geometry were guarded as...
Gravitational waves – the Next Big Thing in astronomy
From post-doc to professor, Paul Davies has followed the search for gravitational waves – he even...
Some 36 years ago I wrote a little book called The Search for Gravity Waves. I wondered at the time whether these elu...
The number that fascinates physicists
The fine-structure constant denoted by the Greek letter alpha.
"God is a pure mathematician!” declared British astronomer Sir James Jeans. The physical Universe does seem to be org...
Ramanujan – a humble maths genius
Extraordinary mathematical ability has become legendary.
The number 1,729 is not one to make the average person’s pulse race, but it is the subject of one of the most remarka...
A beautiful number: the golden ratio
The golden ratio has long been associated with beauty.
Some numbers are held to be lucky, others unlucky and yet others are imbued with divine or mystical significance.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.