Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Bardeen, James M.
Location University of Washington
Primary Field Physics
Secondary Field Astronomy
 Election Citation
Bardeen is one of a handful of theorists whose seminal work underlies the current era of precision cosmology and its connections to the early universe. In classical general relativity he has made pioneering contributions to black hole physics and astrophysics.
 Research Interests
The explosive discovery of new astrophysical phenomena in the 1960's, from quasars to the cosmic microwave background radiation to pulsars inspired Bardeen to devote his career to the frontier between the fundamental physics of relativistic gravity and its applications to astrophysics. Particularly exciting early on was the concept of a black hole as the final state of gravitational collapse, the realization that generic astrophysical black holes could be described by a simple two-parameter solution of the Einstein equations, the Kerr metric, and understanding how accretion of gas into a black hole could release energy with the high efficiency necessary to power quasars and radio galaxies, as well as certain X-ray binaries in our galaxy. Bardeen's development of gauge-invariant perturbation theory in the cosmological context laid a foundation which proved useful in understanding the implications of inflation for the origin of structure in the universe, and what has now become the standard model of cosmology, in which quantum fluctuations in an inflaton scalar field eventually become density perturbations which, as they evolve in a universe dominated by radiation, then dark matter, and now dark energy, generate anisotropies in the microwave background in remarkable agreement with recent observations by the Wilkinson and Planck observatories. Also remarkable is how the quantum properties black holes and the early universe, and the insights they provide into quantum gravity, now play a key role in developments in fundamental particle theory.

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