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Dr Richard Fong

Richard Fong
Richard Fong is Emeritus Senior Lecturer at the University of Durham. He is essentially a local lad, having done all his schooling in Darlington. Indeed, he acknowledges how much he owes to his inspirational Maths teacher, Mr. Hastie, at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Darlington. From there, he entered Cambridge as an Open Exhibitioner, becoming a Scholar the following year. He did his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in the States, where his work was explained to Dirac, who had come to present a seminar. Dirac thought at first that it was impossible that the work could be correct, but the day after Dr. Fong and his supervisor, Prof. Joe Sucher, were summoned to meet Dirac again, whereupon he gave his seal of approval. The subsequent paper, published in 1964, was also complemented on by the Nobel laureate, Steve Weinberg, and is, remarkably, still being cited by current researchers today.

In 1975, encouraged by Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale, he formed with Richard Ellis as his Research Assistant the Cosmology Group of Durham University. Both at the time were complete novices as far as Cosmology was concerned and, thus, had to build their research in Cosmology from scratch, along with the three brilliant graduate students they were supervising, George Efstathiou, Steve Phillipps and Tom Shanks. The group soon became a world leader, with Dr. Fong serving on a number of Research Council committees and panels. Dr. Fong has also collaborated with scientists abroad, including the renowned Russian cosmologist, Andrei Doroshkevich.

Since retiring 9 years ago, Dr. Fong still comes into the Department to interact with members of the very large group that Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology has become and makes it a point to attend it's main seminars on Wednesday afternoons. Retirement has allowed him to stand back and attempt to see Physics as a whole. He also has a great passion for classical music and served on Classical FM's very first Consumer Panel, where he came up with the idea for the station to award a prize for best commercial, to be voted on by listeners. He considers music as a language of emotions and that, as such, musical works of art exist on many levels, just as with the literature of ordinary language, in its array of detective stories, Mills and Boon, Science Fiction, the art novel, plays and poetry. He has a deep interest in the possible parallels between the Arts and Science in terms of human vision and imagination.

Richard Fong is presenting Seeing the unseen, vision, imagination and truth; a conversation about Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics, and Physics in general at as part of The Green Phoenix debate and talk programme on 21st August 2010.

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Department of Physics, University of Durham

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