Martin Rees Wins Templeton Prize

Martin Rees, a theoretical astrophysicist, the master of Trinity College at Cambridge University, and the former president of Britain’s Royal Society, is the 2011 Templeton Prize winner. He accepted the award this morning at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London.

For decades, Rees has explored some of life’s big questions—like the emergence of the cosmos and the size of physical reality—by studying black holes, galaxy formation, and gamma ray bursts and making speculations on the multiverse. He has also urged the scientific community to raise awareness of how human activity is impacting our planet. His book Our Final Hour argues that we now have the power to determine the future of the entire biosphere.

As he explained in prepared remarks:

Some people might surmise that intellectual immersion in vast expanses of space and time would render cosmologists serene and uncaring about what happens next year, next week, or tomorrow. But, for me, the opposite is the case. My concerns are deepened by the realization that, even in a perspective extending billions of years into the future, as well as into the past, this century may be a defining moment. Our planet has existed for 45 million centuries, but this is the first in its history where one species—ours—has Earth’s future in its hands, and could jeopardize not only itself, but life’s immense potential.

The Templeton Prize, valued at about 1.61 million dollars, celebrates someone who has made “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” While Rees says he has no religious beliefs and was surprised to win the award, the big questions his work raises “are reshaping crucial philosophical and theological considerations that strike at the core of life, fostering the spiritual progress that the Templeton Prize has long sought to recognize,” the Templeton Foundation said in a statement. The prize will be officially awarded to Rees by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 1.

Category: Kudos

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One Response

  1. saulsky says:

    What about the authors of two new Atheist Bibles to win next year’s Templeton Prize. We could only give it to the author of one of them because the other does not have an author.

    The specific nature of these two Atheist Bibles and the fact that you will not find a strident word in either means that given this year’s award, this is not as outrageous an idea as it sounds on its face.

    The Good Book is by AC Grayling and 21st Century Testament has no author.

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