Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Canterbury professor to receive Einstein Medal

Canterbury University emeritus professor Roy Kerr. Photo / Supplied
Canterbury University emeritus professor Roy Kerr. Photo / Supplied

A Canterbury astrophysicist will fly to Europe next week to be presented with the Einstein Medal from the Albert Einstein Society.

Emeritus Professor Roy Kerr from Canterbury University is the first New Zealander to receive the award.

It will be presented at Switzerland's University of Bern on May 28.

Prof Kerr discovered a specific solution to Einstein's field equations which described a structure now termed a Kerr black hole.

With over 100 million trillion black holes in the observable universe, his achievement has been recognised as being of crucial importance for science.

The Kerr Solution has come to be regarded as the most important exact solution to any equation in physics and has been pivotal in understanding the most violent and energetic phenomena in the Universe.

Prof Kerr's solution has already been recognised by the Royal Society, which awarded him its Hughes Medal in 1984, and by the Royal Society of New Zealand which awarded him its Hector Medal in 1982 and its Rutherford Medal in 1993.

The Einstein Medal is awarded annually by the Einstein Society which is based in Bern, where Einstein completed his revolutionary work in the first decade of the 20th century.

The Einstein Society works with the University of Bern to preserve Einstein's legacy through different activities and, in particular, by annually awarding a medal "to deserving individuals for outstanding scientific findings, works, or publications related to Albert Einstein".

The medal was first awarded to Stephen Hawking in 1979 and, since then, many distinguished scientists have received the medal including six Nobel laureates.

Professor Kerr said he was honoured to receive the award for his achievements.

Canterbury University acting vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Town, said the university was "immensely proud" of Prof Kerr's achievements.


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