Paul Davies

Paul Davies
Paul Davies

Paul Davies, September 2006
Born Paul Charles William Davies
22 April 1946 (1946-04-22) (age 65)
London, UK
Nationality British
Fields Physicist
Institutions Arizona State University
University of Cambridge
University of Adelaide
Macquarie University
University of Newcastle
Alma mater University College London
University of Cambridge
Doctoral advisor Michael J. Seaton
Sigurd Zienau
Other academic advisors Fred Hoyle
Doctoral students Nicholas Birrell
Edmund Copeland
Kerry Hinton
Don Koks
Andrew Matacz
Carol Oliver
William Walker
Known for Fulling-Davies-Unruh effect
Bunch–Davies vacuum state
Notable awards Kelvin Medal (2001)
Faraday Prize (2002)
Templeton Prize (1995)

Paul Charles William Davies, AM (born 22 April 1946) is an English physicist, writer and broadcaster, currently a professor at Arizona State University as well as the Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He has held previous academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, University of London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. His research interests are in the fields of cosmology, quantum field theory, and astrobiology. He has proposed that a one-way trip to Mars could be a viable option.

In 2005, he took up the chair of the SETI: Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup of the International Academy of Astronautics. He is also an adviser to the Microbes Mind Forum.



Davies was brought up in Finchley and attended Woodhouse Grammar School on Woodhouse Road. He then studied Physics at UCL, gaining a 1st class BSc in 1967.

In 1970, he completed his PhD entitled Contributions to Theoretical Physics: (i) Radiation Damping in the Optical Continuum (ii) A Quantum Theory of Wheeler-Feynman Electrodynamics under Michael J. Seaton and Sigurd Zienau at UCL. He then carried out postdoctoral research under Fred Hoyle at Cambridge University.

Scientific research

Davies' inquiries have included theoretical physics, cosmology, and astrobiology; his research has been mainly in the area of quantum field theory in curved spacetime. Notable contributions are the so-called Fulling–Davies–Unruh effect, according to which an observer accelerating through empty space will perceive a bath of thermal radiation, and the Bunch–Davies vacuum state, often used as the basis for explaining the fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation left over from the big bang. A paper co-authored with Stephen Fulling and William Unruh was the first to suggest that black holes evaporating via the Hawking effect lose mass as a result of a flux of negative energy streaming into the hole from the surrounding space. Davies has had a longstanding association with the problem of time’s arrow, and was also a forerunner of the theory that life on Earth may have come from Mars cocooned in rocks ejected by asteroid and comet impacts. During his time in Australia he helped establish the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. Davies was an author on the widely criticized Science article "A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus."[1]


Davies' talent as a communicator of science has been recognized in Australia by an Advance Australia Award and two Eureka Prizes, and in the UK by the 2001 Kelvin Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics, and the 2002 Faraday Prize by The Royal Society. Davies received the Templeton Prize in 1995.

Davies was made a member of the Order of Australia in the 2007 Queen's birthday honours list.

The asteroid 6870 Pauldavies is named after him.

Media activity

Davies writes and comments on scientific and philosophical issues. He made a documentary series for BBC Radio 3, and two Australian television series, The Big Questions and More Big Questions. His BBC documentary The Cradle of Life featured the subject of his Faraday Prize lecture. He writes regularly for newspapers and magazines worldwide. He has been guest on numerous radio and television programmes including the children podcast programme Ask A Biologist.

An opinion piece published in the New York Times[2] generated controversy over its exploration of the role of faith in scientific inquiry. Davies argued that the faith scientists have in the immutability of physical laws has origins in Christian theology, and that the claim that science is "free of faith" is "manifestly bogus."[2] The Edge Foundation presented a criticism of Davies' article written by Jerry Coyne, Nathan Myhrvold, Lawrence Krauss, Scott Atran, Sean Carroll, Jeremy Bernstein, PZ Myers, Lee Smolin, John Horgan, Alan Sokal and a response by Davies beginning I was dismayed at how many of my detractors completely misunderstood what I had written. Indeed, their responses bore the hallmarks of a superficial knee-jerk reaction to the sight of the words "science" and "faith" juxtaposed.[3] While atheists Richard Dawkins[4] and Victor J. Stenger[5] have criticised Davies' public stance on science and religion, others, including the John Templeton Foundation have praised his work. Davies wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal where he described the background to the 2 Dec 2010 arsenic bacteria press conference and stated that he supported the 'arsenic can replace phosphorus' idea of Felisa Wolfe-Simon because "I had the advantage of being unencumbered by knowledge. I dropped chemistry at the age of 16, and all I knew about arsenic came from Agatha Christie novels." [6]

Davies in popular culture

  • The novel Naive, Super, by Norwegian writer Erlend Loe (translated by Tor Ketil Solberg), published in 1996, refers to Davies frequently.
  • He has an Erdős Number of three.[7]
  • Numbers (season 5, episode 12) refers to Paul Davies' Cosmic Think Tank at Arizona State.
  • Lawrence Leungs Unbelievable (season 1, episode 3), Leung interviews Paul Davies on Alien abduction, where Paul admits to having experienced sleep paralysis.


Popular books

Essays and papers


  1. ^ Wolfe-Simon, Felisa; Blum, Jodi Switzer; Kulp, Thomas R.; Gordon, Gwyneth W.; Hoeft, Shelley E.; Pett-Ridge, Jennifer; Stolz, John F.; Webb, Samuel M. et al. (2010-12-02). "A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus". Science 332 (6034): 1163–1166. Bibcode 2011Sci...332.1163W. doi:10.1126/science.1197258. PMID 21127214. Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  2. ^ a b Davies, Paul (2007-11-24). "Taking Science on Faith". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  3. ^ Jerry Coyne, Nathan Myhrvold, Lawrence Krauss, Scott Atran, Sean Carroll, Jeremy Bernstein, PZ Myers, Lee Smolin, John Horgan, Alan Sokal. "On "Taking Science on Faith" by Paul C. Davies". Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  4. ^ Richard Dawkins (2006). "A Deeply Religious Non-Believer". The God Delusion. Mariner Books. pp. 31–50. ISBN 978-0618918249. 
  5. ^ Victor J. Stenger. "Review of The Cosmic Blueprint". Science & Theology News. University of Colorado. 
  6. ^ Davies, Paul (4 December 2010). "The 'Give Me a Job' Microbe". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  7. ^ AMS collaboration data base

External links


On an Ultimate Explanation:

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Paul Davies — Paul Davies. Paul Charles William Davies (22 de abril de 1946) es un físico, escritor y locutor británico reconocido a escala internacional. Actualmente ocupa la posición de profesor en la Universidad Estatal de Arizona, donde dirige el instituto …   Wikipedia Español

  • Paul Davies — ist der Name folgender Personen: Paul Davies (Physiker) (* 1946), britischer Physiker und Autor Paul Davies (Snookerspieler) (* 1970), walisischer Snookerspieler Paul L. Davies (* 1944), britischer Jurist und Hochschullehrer Siehe auch: Paul… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Paul Davies — est un physicien et écrivain australo britannique né à Londres le 22 avril 1946. Il est actuellement professeur à l Arizona State University. Ses travaux concernent principalement la …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Paul Davies — Paul Charles William Davies (22 de abril de 1946) es un físico, escritor y locutor británico reconocido a nivel internacional. Actualmente ocupa la posición de Profesor de Filosofía Natural en el Centro Australiano de Astrobiología en la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Paul Davies (disambiguation) — Paul Davies may refer to: *Paul Davies – British physicist *Paul L. Davies British legal scholar *Paul Davies (Welsh politician) – Welsh politician *Paul Davies (snooker player) – Welsh snooker player *Paul Davies (footballer born 1952) – Welsh… …   Wikipedia

  • Paul Davies (Physiker) — Paul Davies Paul Charles William Davies[1] (* 22. April 1946 in London) ist ein britischer Physiker und Sachbuchautor, der in Großbritannien, Australien und den USA gelehrt hat. Inhaltsve …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Paul Davies (Snookerspieler) — Paul Davies Geburtstag 22. Juni 1970 Geburtsort Newtown Nationalität Wales …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Paul Davies (footballer born 1960) — Infobox Football biography playername = Paul Davies fullname = Paul Andrew Davies dateofbirth = birth date and age|1960|10|9 cityofbirth = flagicon|England Kidderminster countryofbirth = England height = nickname = position = Striker currentclub …   Wikipedia

  • Paul Davies (Welsh politician) — Infobox Politician name=Paul Davies AM imagesize=150px birth date = birth place = Wales office = Assembly Member constituency= Preseli Pembrokeshire term start =2007 term end = predecessor = Tamsin Dunwoody successor = (incumbent) office2 = term… …   Wikipedia

  • Paul Davies (footballer born 1952) — Infobox Football biography playername = Paul Davies fullname = Paul Davies height = dateofbirth = Birth date and age|1952|10|10|df=y cityofbirth = Holywell, Flintshire countryofbirth = Wales youthyears = youthclubs = Arsenal currentclub =… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”