The Loss of a Space Genius


It takes the cooperation of many great minds to invent vehicles to go into space. It also takes innovative minds to lead the research as we find out what is out there. Donald Lynden-Bell had a mind for the unusual and the impossible. He was a British theoretical astrophysicist who recently passed away at 82 years of age. His research included many years of interrogation on black holes and quasars. Along with his research, he served the University of Cambridge as a professor from 1972-2001.

A major part of his research, done along with other scientists, included the contradiction of an ongoing theory considering the even expansion of the universe. This theory was disproved with the help of Lynden-Bell. His scientific brain was geared towards complex thought in many ways. He specialized in mathematical formulas applied to physics. He also served, in the past, as president of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge welcomed him as their first director, as well.

The Kavli Prize for Astrophysics was awarded to Lynden-Bell and Maarten Schmidt in 2008. Together they worked on different aspects of research involving quasars. Quasars are quasi-stellar radio sources. Lynden-Bell successfully clarified their energy source, and motion.

His research on black-holes is astonishing. He spent many of his years expanding the theories surrounding the gravitational pull of black holes and their role in galaxies and their energy. Other developments include his theory of “violent relaxation” relating to particles, and “gravothermal catastrophe” explaining a phenomenon of heat and a star cluster. Dr. Lynden Bell’s research continued long after his retirement from the University and did not stop until near the time of his death.

Theoretical research, like that of Dr. Lynden-Bell is an important part of why we explore space. The information gathered on space missions fuels the great minds here on earth to make sense of it all.