Hermann Bondi, an astrophysicist whose ideas about cosmology helped formulate the steady-state theory of the universe, has died at age 85.
Martin Rees, Britain’s royal astronomer, said Bondi died on September 10 in Cambridge. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for years, Rees said.
Bondi was working on developing radar systems for the British Admiralty in the 1940s when he began collaborating with two other scientists, Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold.
In 1948, the three presented the theory that the universe has always existed in a steady state with no beginning and no end. That idea was supplanted by the big-bang theory in 1965.
Bondi then focused his studies on the theory of relativity and black holes. His theory of accretion states that the gravitational pull of a black hole builds up gas in its vicinity.
In the 1960s, Bondi promoted space exploration. He served as director general of the European Space Research Organisation between 1967 and 1971, working to build ties between the space programs of western European countries.
Bondi served the British government as chief scientific adviser to the ministry of defence from 1971 to 1977. He was knighted in 1973 and later promoted to chief scientist for the Department of Energy, a position he held until 1980.
Bondi was born in 1919 in Vienna, Austria. He completed a degree in mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1940. As an Austrian alien during World War II, he was interned first on an English island and then in Canada.
Among Bondi’s many scientific papers and books are Cosmology, published in 1952, The Universe at Large, from 1961, and his autobiography, Science, Churchill and Me, released in 1990. He lectured in mathematics at Cambridge and was a professor at King’s College, London.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters. — Sapa-AP