Advancing Basic Science for Humanity
Roger Blandford is director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC). Housed at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, Blandford oversees research that seeks to answer some of our great cosmic questions: what powered the Big Bang? What are dark matter and dark energy? What is happening around black holes?
A specialist in black holes, white dwarfs, gamma ray bursts, gravitational lensing and the evolution of the universe, Blandford’s own research includes establishing the Blandford-Znajek Process – the leading model that explains how energy can be extracted from a rotating black hole, producing jets of plasma that travel near light speed. In this interview, Blandford discusses his own research, as well as phenomena in space and the research being conducted by KIPAC scientists, including their leadership role in NASA’s Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope satellite. Taped prior to the launching of GLAST, Blandford explains how this satellite will reveal the high-energy universe, providing an unprecedented view of black holes, pulsars and possibly dark matter. In addition, it allows the study of subatomic particles at energies far greater than those seen in ground-based particle accelerators, providing deeper insights into the evolution of the Universe.
Blandford taught theoretical astrophysics at Caltech for more than 25 years before coming to Stanford University in 2003. He is a native of England and received his BA, MA and PhD degrees at the University of Cambridge. Among his notable recognitions, he is a Fellow of The Royal Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.