While in Cambridge last summer, I had the pleasure of meeting the astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees and touring the master’s rooms and gardens in Trinity College–which is something like heaven on Earth. So I knew the Templeton program was a big fan of Rees–but I didn’t know he’d be the next winner of the Templeton Prize.
Until recently the head of the Royal Society, Rees is credited with asking the “big questions” in his explorations of astrophysics and the nature of the universe–or multiverse–but also with being a leader in the scientific community in drawing attention to the problem of climate change.
There’s a very notable fact here: Rees is not religious, though he calls Anglican traditions the “customs of my tribe.”
Let’s end with some words from Rees in acceptance of the prize:
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 realisation 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 jeopardise not only itself, but life’s immense potential.
I applaud the Templeton Foundation for choosing such a distinguished scientific leader to receive its biggest award. For more on the Templeton Prize, see here.