Sir Martin John Rees (born June 23, 1942) has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. Educated at Shrewsbury School and Trinity College, Cambridge, he studied in the United States before taking a professorship at Sussex University. Returning to Cambridge, he held the post of Plumian Professor until 1991 and was director of the Institute of Astronomy there.
Rees won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1987. He was knighted in 1992 and won the Bruce Medal in 1993. He was awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society in 2004. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious Crafoord Prize along with James Gunn and James Peebles.
In a career that has seen him publish over 500 research papers, he has made important contributions in the origin of cosmic microwave background radiation, as well as galaxy clustering and formation. His studies of the distribution of quasars proved a strong argument against the steady state theory, and he was one of the first to propose that enormous black holes power the quasars. He is also a well-respected and popular publicist of astronomy and science in general.
He was recently nominated as the next president of the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, and is expected to take over the post in November 2005.
- "Cosmic Coincidences", 1989.
- "New perspectives in astrophysical cosmology", 1995.
- "Gravity's fatal attraction: black holes in the universe", 1995.
- "Before the beginning - our universe and others", 1997.
- "Just Six Numbers", 2000.
- "Our Cosmic Habitat", 2001.
- "Our Final Hour " (UK title: "Our Final Century "), 2003, ISBN 0465068626.
- "Once the threshold is crossed when there is a self-sustaining level of life in space, then life's long-range future will be secure irrespective of any of the risks on Earth (with the single exception of the catastrophic destruction of space itself). Will this happen before our technical civilisation disintegrates, leaving this as a might-have-been? Will the self-sustaining space communities be established before a catastrophe sets back the prospect of any such enterprise, perhaps foreclosing it for ever? We live at what could be a defining moment for the cosmos, not just for our Earth." ~ Our Final Hour by Martin Rees