Monday, January 25, 2010

Michael Green -Lucasian Professor of Mathematics

Professor Michael Green, one of the world's leading theoretical physicists is to become the 18th Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.He was elected by senior university staff to one of the world's most famous academic titles after Professor Stephen Hawking decided to shed the title. Prof Green is a professor of theoretical physics at Cambridge and the university said he was a pioneering scientist.Prof Hawking stepped down in September after holding the title for 30 years but continues to work at the university. Previous holders of the title, founded by MP Henry Lucas in 1663, include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, Sir Joseph Larmor and Sir James Lighthill.Michael Green is one of the founders of string theory, which he pioneered from the early seventies onwards. Apart from original research in the area, his contributions include the a textbook co-authored with Edward Witten and John Schwarz, which for many years remained the only string theory text book around.
Michael Green, together with John Schwarz of the California Institute of Technology, laid the foundations for string theory, which is being heralded as the unifying link between Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics. String theory has the potential to better explain all kinds of forces in the physical world, from electromagnetic forces and the forces of attraction in the nucleus of an atom, to gravity. The eighteenth Professor to take up this position carries forward the very distinguished tradition of the post.Green and Schwarz have been working on string theory since the early nineteen seventies, a time when physicists were baffled by inconsistencies and anomalies in the theory and easily gave up working on it. The duo’s first breakthrough came in 1984, when they made their first breakthrough in the field and convinced the theoretical physicists of the world of the viability of string theory.
The Chair was deeded in December 1663 as a gift to the University of Cambridge from Henry Lucas, who was a Member of Parliament for the University. It was a time when many of the fundamental mathematical tools used today, such as calculus, had yet to be developed. Professors who have held the chair have made contributions, not just to mathematics, but also to the fields of theoretical and applied physics, fluid mechanics, chemistry, astronomy, and even computing.
The Chair never got quite as much media attention until it was held by Stephen Hawking, well known theoretical physicist and author of A Brief History of Time.

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