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Thursday, 12 November 2009 20:07

Michael Green succeeds Stephen Hawking

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Physicist Michael Green has been elected the eighteen recipient of the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He succeds Stephen Hawking to the prestigious mathematical position.


Dr. Green was confirmed on October 19, 2009, as the next Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He succeeded Stephen Hawking on November 1, 2009.

Dr. Green (1946-) is one of the pioneering founders of string theory. The October 24, 2009 Guardian.co.uk article “Michael Green: Master of the universe” discusses some of the history of Green’s efforts in developing string theory.

The article asks the questions “[D]oes the pioneer of string theory think he holds the answers to life's mysteries?”

Green collaborated with John H. Schwartz in discovering what came to be known as the Green-Schwartz mechanism (or the Green Schwartz anomaly cancellation mechanism), which led to the “First Superstring Revolution.”

Further information on the GS mechanism is found at: Green-Schwarz mechanism.

Upon Green’s election to the position, Peter Haynes, head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at University of Cambridge, stated, "Michael Green has played a leading role in theoretical physics research in the department since 1993. He is internationally known as a pioneer in string theory which over the last 20 years has become one of the most important and active areas of the field."

"In the department he continues to make important advances in this topic and at the same time to support and inspire young researchers. His appointment as Lucasian Professor continues the very distinguished tradition of that post."
[Plus Magazine (10/22/09): “Michael Green replaces Stephen Hawking in Lucasian chair”]


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Theoretical physicist Hawking (1942-), who has held the position since 1979, is mandated by university requirements to step down at this time. Hawking now holds the position of Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

Hawking’s website appears at Hawking.org.uk.

The position was created in 1663 by Henry Lucas, from which its name originates. It was formally established by King Charles II on January 18, 1664.

Many famous mathematicians have held the Lucasian Professorship other than Hawking. The second pErson to hold the position was Sir Isaac Newton.

Other well known mathematicians holding the prestigious academic position have included:

Mathematician, inventor, and mechanical engineer Charles Babbage (1791-1871)—who is considered the Father of Computer Science after he came up with the original concept of the programmable computer and developed an incomplete ‘difference engine.

In 1991, Babbage’s incomplete difference engine was completed and, in 2000, the printer designed by Babbage was constructed. Both worked, proving that Babbage’s computer and printer would have worked even back in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Information about Babbage appears at “Charles Babbage (1791-1871).”

Theoretical physicist Paul Dirac (1902-1984)—who contributed to the early development of quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.

Dirac is known for such concepts as Dirac’s Large Numbers Hypothesis, which compares ratios of size scales in the Universe with that of force scales (such as the inversely proportional ratio of the gravitational constant and the age of the Universe) and the Dirac equation, which eventually led to the prediction for the existence of antimatter.

His Nobel Prize biography appears at “Paul A.M. Dirac: The Nobel Prize in Physics 1933.”

A listing of the previous holders of the Lucasian Professorship is found at the LucasianChair.org website. Other information and background on the position is found on the website, too.

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