Martin Rees is a professor of cosmology and astrophysics, master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, and president of the Royal Society. He was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1995, and was nominated to the House of Lords in 2005 as a cross-bench peer and appointed a member of the Order of Merit in 2007.
Lord Rees has made important scientific contributions in the formation and properties of galaxies, especially the early generation of stars and galaxies that formed at the end of cosmic dark ages more than 12 billion years ago shortly after the “Big Bang.” His studies of the distribution of quasars proved an argument against the steady state theory, and he was one of the first to propose observational tests for early star and galaxy clustering. He is also a popular publicist of astronomy and science in general; he is the author of seven books, five for general readership.
Lord Rees earned a bachelor’s (1963) and Ph.D. (1967) degrees from the University of Cambridge. He held post-doctoral positions at Cambridge, Caltech, and Princeton before becoming a Professor at Sussex University. Returning to Cambridge (1973), he held the Plumian Professor and was Director of Institute of Astronomy until 1991. From 1992 to 2003 he was Royal Society Research Professor, and from 2002 Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cambridge. In 2005 he was appointed to the House of Lords and elected President of the Royal Society.
In this special interview, Lord Rees discusses his fascination with astrophysics, how he arrived in the field, his own groundbreaking research, and some of the current challenges facing the field, as well as how technology may expand our understanding of the universe.